We heard about the "Internet of Things" (IoT), perhaps as part of a long list of new technologies that seem to take our lives. Is it really so useful for us?
IOT is a huge network of related "things", including electronic devices, household appliances and mobile phones; in fact, any physical object that has an IP address for Internet connectivity. These objects essentially "talk" with one another, collect data and provide us with information.
Although many of IOT's comments focus on lenient gadgets that attack our lives – such as smart refrigerators that tell us when we run out of milk – it can also help us to solve problems that arise in distress.
For example, place an internet sensor in your old lady's kitchen and check that she stands up for a morning cup of tea. Attach a sensor to access the Internet in the nest and see how often it is visited by endangered birds. Or, attach an Internet sensor to the public container cover to see if it needs to be emptied.
IoT can also help us with a healthy life. Leave the car home and plan a convenient walk to the office with a route planner informed by a network of weather sensors using the Internet. So why can not we use our regular Internet connection to find these things? As we know, devices can connect to the Internet with a range of communication technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).
Now, there are many new and emerging technologies – collectively called low-power networks (LPWAN), which have two major advantages: low power and long range.
We will not connect our phones with them – with modern standards they are very slow, but they allow us to keep weather sensors and counters of living creatures that do not use a lot of data, some AA batteries.
Devices that use LPWAN technology to connect to the Internet are also cheap, so sensors in public containers for waste and bird nests throughout the city. And due to the large size of LPWAN, they do not need to be close to the Wi-Fi network.
The public transitions of LPWAN IoT, which enable this technology, appear everywhere in Australia. IoT, and especially LPWAN IoT, has the ability to change the way data is collected and used forever. Instead of looking at him as unnecessary, we should hug his whole heart.
Dr. Simon Egerton is head of the Laboratory of Technology and Innovation at La Trobe University.