• Paul Fingleton

Editorial: What was the "Big Thing" at CES 2015? "Internet of Things"

If there was one phrase to sum up CES 2015 and all that was clamouring for attention in the bright lights of Las Vegas it would be "Internet of Things".

The "Internet of Things" is certainly the buzzphrase in tech circles of late. But what exactly is the "Internet of Things", or IoT as all the hip kids are saying these days?

IoT does exactly what it says on the tin: An Internet of Things device is a device that connects a service hosted in the Internet or is somehow networked via your Smartphone to access data from out on the web. IoT devices can come in any sizes, small smart watches or exercise bands that track your fitness and update you on your Facebook or Twitter messages. Smart Wearables such as Google Glass or they could even go large like Smart Advertising billboards, 3D printers, coffee makers, heart monitors, smart thermostats or if you really want to push the envelope, cars.

Most of these IoT gadgets on display can do great things, things that were unheard of even five years ago because they can get so much computational power into such a small space and can communicate through mostly reliable wireless networking.

The down side for now is that it is quite fragmented: Can your Thermostat talk with your Smoke Detector, and will your Smart Lights know what to do if there was a problem? Will your exercise band store information in a place that your diet app can also?

If these IoT devices are all isolated from each other then they lose some of their effectiveness.

There is an industry sprouting up around creating third-party services to try and link all these disparate devices into a useful whole. Services such as "If This Then That" allow users to create recipes to perform actions when their devices detect certain conditions - If I am leaving work, and the temperature at home is under 15 degrees, turn on the heat.

The next few years will bring many advances in interconnectivity and how devices can learn and talk to each other. For now, though "Internet of Things" will be the new "Cloud Computing" which was the new "Web 2.0" which was the new "Digital Hub" and so on, and so on.

Perhaps some have learned a little from the lessons of the past. Intel, for example, held their entire Keynote address and demonstrations without uttering "Internet of Things" or "IoT" once.

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