The Internet of Things is a natural next step for the Internet, and is being driven largely by improvements and adaptation of existing technology. 

The Five Internet Eras

Looking at the evolution of the Internet we can classify it into five eras:

  1. The Internet of Documents -- e-libraries, document based webpages
  2. The Internet of Commerce -- e-commerce, e-banking and stock trading websites
  3. The Internet of Applications -- Web 2.0
  4. The Internet of People -- Social networks
  5. The Internet of Things -- Connected devices and machines

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Each of the first four eras has provided significant benefits in transfer of information and documented knowledge, while creating a new economy around the information produced. By increasing the volume of available human knowledge as well as each person’s access to that data, innovation and new business opportunities stand at the forefront. The Internet of Things will do the same, and more.

Connectivity is Key

The social network revolution of the past decade has been largely driven by human connectivity to the Internet. As more people around the world became connected through the economical availability of devices, they began to form and join networks that enabled efficient communication and access to desired information about others in the network.

The Internet of Things revolution will similarly be driven by inexpensive device connectivity. As the price of embedded computing and sensors drops and performance improves, there is no longer any real barrier to connecting electronic devices to the Internet. The availability and innovation in hyper-local network technology such as Bluetooth Low Energy, and price and performance improvements in other network technologies like ZigBee, Z-Wave, RFID, EnOcean and traditional WiFi has finally brought robust and easy to configure connectivity to the devices in our homes and offices.

Physical connectivity, however, is just step one. Had there been no compelling social network websites, wide-scale human connectivity may have been largely wasted. Fortunately, new Internet of Things web applications and platforms are being deployed to provide the human-to-device, device-to-human and device-to-device communication that connected devices will need to thrive.

A Look at the Potential of the Internet of Things

Once devices are first class members of these networks, the possibilities are endless. Data produced by networks of humans and devices will provide an unprecedented insight into consumer and product behavior.