Writing for the San Jose Mercury News, Steve Johnson notes that billions of ordinary items — ranging from factory equipment to prescription-drug bottles — are being fitted with microcontrollers and linked to the Internet.
“By outfitting the globe with billions of connected gadgets, experts foresee a world in which more elderly people survive once-life-threatening accidents, since doctors and emergency responders will be alerted the moment their patients fall,” Johnson explains. “[In addition], fewer planes will crash, because every part on every aircraft will be electronically monitored so they can be quickly replaced at the slightest sign of failure. Wines will [also] get better since vineyard operators will know precisely when their grapes have the perfect sugar concentrations for picking.”
According to Cisco, at least 10 billion devices (many of them phones) are already linked to the Internet. These include smart cars, “intelligent” pill-bottle caps and advanced connected thermostats. In addition, says Johnson, cows in England are being connected to the Internet to track their grazing habits, while thousands of smart trash cans allow waste-management officials to remotely check how full each container is in real-time.
Unsurprisingly, a recent General Electric (GE) study recently concluded that the Internet of Things could add as much as $15 trillion to global GDP over the next 20 years. Describing the trend as “much like the Industrial Revolution” of the 18th and 19th centuries, GE confirms the world is at “the cusp of another wave of innovation that promises to change the way we do business and interact with the world of industrial machines.”
Every facet of society, says Johnson, is expected to be transformed by the Internet of Things.
“[This includes] our ability to better protect the environment, boost farm production and get early warnings of structural weaknesses in bridges and dams to enabling people to remotely control their lights, sprinkler systems, washing machines and scores of other gadgets at home,” he added.
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