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IoT: the technological revolution of everyday life

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What is the Internet of Things?
Smart cities and objects: how does the IoT affect our daily lives?
The basis of a fourth industrial revolution
Application of the IoT in healthcare
Dangers of the IoT: cyberattacks and data protection
What technology underpins the Internet of Things?
What is the purpose of the IoT?
Opportunities and dangers of industry 4.0 and digital marketing
Health prevention and diagnosis
Hospital and ambulatory medical assistance
Orwellian Society: Dystopia or Reality?
How to protect yourself from cyberattacks?
Vulnerability in the system
IoT and the (absence of) net neutrality

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IoT: the technological revolution of everyday life

No definition has yet been established for the term? Internet of Things? (also known by its name in English, Internet of Things, and its acronym IoT). Rather, there are different definitions that differ in the small details, although, in general, they all coincide on one point: the term refers to the interconnection of everyday objects and industrial machines through the Internet . These objects are given a unique identity (address) on the network and can carry out tasks in a fully automated way. In this way, for example, simple objects can communicate with each other at any time and place, without the need for human intervention. Equipped with processors and sensors and connected thanks to network technology, these devices can collect information from their environment, analyze it and send it to other objects connected to the Internet..

Index
  1. What is the Internet of Things?
    1. What technology underpins the Internet of Things?
    2. What is the purpose of the IoT?
  2. Smart cities and objects: how does the IoT affect our daily lives?
  3. The basis of a fourth industrial revolution
    1. Opportunities and dangers of industry 4.0 and digital marketing
  4. Application of the IoT in healthcare
    1. Health prevention and diagnosis
    2. Hospital and ambulatory medical assistance
  5. Dangers of the IoT: cyberattacks and data protection
    1. Orwellian Society: Dystopia or Reality?
    2. How to protect yourself from cyberattacks?
    3. Vulnerability in the system
    4. IoT and the (absence of) net neutrality

Therefore, when talking about the Internet of Things, we must not only think about high-tech appliances or autonomous cars, since the possible range of applications is much wider . Imagine: clothes and watches for sports capable of monitoring the user's health status and sending the values ​​obtained directly to the medical consultation for evaluation. In the area of ​​agriculture, the results of the sensors of the water humidity and the nutrient requirements of the cultivated plants could be stored in the cloud. And these are just two examples of the many options that the IoT presents.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is directly related to a number of technological advances, as well as concepts such as ubiquitous computing and artificial intelligence  (AI). The possibility of transforming everyday objects into electronic devices is its fundamental characteristic : they can be identified through an IP address, through sensors they detect states and have storage capacity thanks to built-in chips. In addition, integrated minicomputers allow autonomous management, react to the environment and exchange data, which, together with machine learning, turns these objects into devices capable of recognizing and universalizing patterns and deducing a series of conclusions to adapt to new situations and go optimizing little by little. The application of a radio frequency technology such as RFID or Bluetooth is enough to transform physical objects into a transmitter-receiver system. With the help of more complex communication technology such as 4G, devices can transfer large amounts of data to a cloud or another IoT device over a long distance and without interruption..

The Internet of Things makes use of different technologies and, although there is no unified definition of the term, as a general rule the following characteristics are attributed to it:

  • Collection, storage and processing of data, as it does, for example, the thermostat that automatically measures the temperature of a room.
  • Communication with other objects , either directly or in the cloud.
  • Interconnection , for example, Bluetooth connection to the Internet.
  • Ubiquity , because connected devices can be used almost anywhere.
  • Automation , since the devices respond with a specific response to a specific scenario or action, without any user intervention. For example, some electric kitchen fires are automatically paused when the food has reached the set temperature.
  • Learning ability: a lamp connected to the Internet could analyze the intensity of the light and then adjust it automatically on subsequent occasions.

What technology underpins the Internet of Things?

To understand the principle behind the Internet of Things, you have to know its technological foundations. In theory, the IoT is currently being used in different fields thanks to ICT , both the most recent and those with a longer tradition . But for full coverage to really be established, this technology has to evolve even further.

In fact, there are still some obstacles to overcome to interconnect all devices, send and process data quickly without interference and be able to solve the problem of big data: the Internet of Things requires a very powerful mobile Internet connection capable of managing the immense volume of data from the large number of machine devices connected to the global network..

For all this, many developers have put all their hope in the new generation of 5G mobile telephony , which far exceeds previous standards when it comes to data volume per second. According to the European Union, by 2025 all major cities and main roads in all EU member countries must have 5G. In a first plan, it was thought to put a limit on 2020, but experts consider it much more realistic to wait five more years. Regardless of the year in which it is finally established, the truth is that 5G technology is practically a reality.

Simple means such as RFID systems or QR codes are sufficient to identify objects, gather information on physical conditions and power the network. In fact, this technology is already applied in the tracking of packages from logistics service providers and in the management of goods.

If, however, it is a question of evaluating complex data automatically and with autonomous management, the devices must have a more complex technology. If the M2M (machine to machine) principle is applied, which refers to the transmitter-receiver system that allows the automated exchange of information between devices remotely, a series of components must be available. For example, for remote maintenance of a picking vehicle from a logistics service provider you would need:

  • Machine or data end point : the autonomous picking vehicle equipped with motion sensors sends GPS signals.
  • Communication network: wireless networks such as UMTS, HSPA, LTE, 5G.
  • Server, data integration point : the server of a logistics company interprets the technical parameters sent by the picking vehicle.
  • M2M device : For example, an API (application programming interface) that helps the server evaluate results and trigger actions.

The following elements belong to the technical architecture of the Internet of Things:

  • Sensors : Objects in everyday life equipped with sensors can collect information about a number of physical or chemical conditions and measure, among others, temperature, pressure, luminosity, humidity, pH or movement. The results are transformed into electrical signals so that they can be processed by digital systems. Thanks to this, it is possible to adapt the brightness of the screen of a smartphone depending on the light intensity of the environment captured by a sensor.
     
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) : this technology allows the identification of an object remotely using electromagnetic waves (it has a range of up to 100 meters). An RDIF label with a unique code is attached to the object so that a measuring instrument is able to identify and locate it. Logistics companies turn to RFID systems to facilitate the location of a container when shipping it.
     
  • Location technologies : GPS, WLAN and Bluetooth reach greater distances and are capable of communicating more information. Thus, if the smartphone's location system is used to find a restaurant in the vicinity, it can show, for example, the one that is closest.
     
  • Wireless networks : To use the IoT in a wide range, you need more than short-range communication systems or short transmission paths of WLAN. The predominant transmission technologies are based on the 3G and 4G mobile telephony standards, however, they continue to present some delay. Therefore, to be able to work with a greater volume of data and to allow transmission to take place in real time, a new generation is required. In fact, the use of the following standards is promoted in the future:
    • 5G mobile phone standard . The fifth generation of mobile telephony standards represents a great leap, as it promises 10,000 MB per second, thus being one hundred times faster than the LTE standard and exceeding it a thousand times in terms of capacity. In fact, with 5G almost all applications can work in real time, becoming the requirement that can make automated driving a reality in smart cities. With the standard, even the large data packages of Full HD movies can be loaded almost immediately.
       
    • NB-IoT (NarrowBand-IoT) technology is an innovation. Although it only transmits small amounts of data, it is distinguished by other advantages: thanks to a high signal intensity it reaches places that are difficult to access such as an underground receiver or objects located in thick-walled buildings. This technology is extremely efficient from an energy point of view and works for a long period of time. For example, this technology would allow boilers to be kept in basements without external power or to control street lighting remotely.
       
  • Cloud : for the infrastructure of a powerful Internet of Things, a virtual data storage and processing network is also essential. The cloud allows you to safely store the information of IoT devices and at the same time increase their storage capacity.
  • System embedded (embedded computing) : microprocessors and other computing systems work only reduced when interacting with other devices. For their operation there are no great software or hardware requirements and they are very useful for the creation of autonomous systems in the most common objects.

What is the purpose of the IoT?

The prospect of a much more comfortable day-to-day life, a more efficient economy and administration, greater road safety, an ecological energy supply and a healthier life are undoubtedly driving the development of an Internet of Things that facilitates all areas of our lives: automatic coffee machines, an industrial production that reacts quickly to demand, autonomous cars and watches capable of immediately detecting and communicating any deterioration in health. With the information gathered by the different interconnected objects, activities can be planned much better and, in connection with AI systems, IoT devices work faster and more efficiently than people.

In the health sector, the Internet of things would increase the information collected from each patient, allowing accurate diagnoses and monitoring the health status of each individual continuously, ruling out unnecessary visits to the medical consultation.

IoT devices, self-taught and immersed in a continuous exchange of information, are also capable of anticipating risks, channeling them and optimizing processes without the need for human intervention. Machines that maintain themselves or plan production processes in a factory in real time not only reduce costs but also time . Heating systems or self-regulating sensors responsible for detecting the need for water and fertilizers in agricultural practices also guarantee a responsible and efficient use of resources.

The development of a digital infrastructure would allow in the future the creation of a sophisticated and comprehensive system, capable of self-regulation and covering all areas of daily life.

Done

The Internet of Things is growing by leaps and bounds. The information technology research and consulting company Gartner assured that by 2020 there will be a total of 20.4 billion IoT devices.

Smart cities and objects: how does the IoT affect our daily lives?

The revolution of our daily lives thanks to the Internet of Things is yet to come and, therefore, only hypotheses can be made about how this technology will affect our lives, even more so if we take into account that few live in smart home or use wearable objects (objects equipped with this technology that can be worn). On the other hand, there are other innovations that are gradually being incorporated, such as automated tellers, smart surveillance cameras and factories with autonomous operation. However, these advances remain in the background, since they do not affect our routine in such a visible way. The absolute integration of the IoT would mean being continuously surrounded by computer systems that collect and exchange data on the Internet. If these objects are used within the home, they completely slip into the private sphere.

Living in a smart home brings with it many advantages: thanks to the data collected on the different inhabitants and their activities, it is possible to react in advance and facilitate certain daily activities. Household appliances are self-regulating and thus guarantee greater safety: kitchen fires that turn off automatically or house doors that lock themselves.

Many of the devices connected to the Internet respond to a pattern of behavior : a smart wristwatch responsible for stimulating a healthy lifestyle alerts the user every time it detects an increase in sedentary lifestyle. However, human needs are only predictable to a certain extent, not forgetting a key question that often accompanies the use of this technology: what if technology increasingly controlled our lifestyle? Let's imagine that insurers begin to emerge that charge one or another rate taking into account the information collected on the physical activity performed by a client. Would it be ethical? Not only experts in this field try to find an answer, but also IT professionals discuss the disadvantages that the application of the IoT can bring.

One thing is certainly clear: the devices for home use already available are quite practical . An example of this is the smart thermostat from Nest, a company acquired by Google, capable of detecting the usual heating temperature in a place, to later regulate it autonomously. A motion detector records whether the inhabitants are at home and turns off the heating in their absence. This reduces heating costs, saves energy resources and increases comfort. If the inhabitants decide to go home earlier than usual, they can turn it on before arriving.

Some innovations tested in certain cities are a sample of what the IoT will allow to carry out in the public sector in the future. On a global scale, the Internet of Things could make transportation, traffic, garbage collection, etc., much more efficient, although this would require creating a complete infrastructure of interconnected streetlights, containers, traffic lights and facades of buildings that They will capture the information through sensors.

Santander is an example of a smart city. The narrow streets of the center have thousands of sensors to measure the volume of traffic and through an app, drivers are warned of the busiest routes as well as the available parking spaces. Amsterdam, for its part, has smart street lamps that regulate the intensity of the projected light, so that when there are no pedestrians or cars nearby, they turn off, reducing light pollution and saving energy.

The basis of a fourth industrial revolution

The IoT can be considered the engine of a fourth industrial revolution. There is no doubt that smart factories, in whose facilities production processes are organized autonomously, belong to a new era. In them , production is accelerated, efficiency is increased and costs are reduced thanks, for example, to the fact that the materials are equipped with RFID chips that indicate which machine is responsible for the next process and sensors that serve the machines to notify critical situations , as well as other systems to communicate repair or material needs.

Opportunities and dangers of industry 4.0 and digital marketing

The Internet of Things serves to optimize the different stages in a production process as well as all the services involved: from product development, through marketing, to delivery and subsequent recycling. Furthermore, with a set of interconnected and fully autonomous machines it is easier to adapt to the individual wishes of each customer. In this way, the manufacture of customized products does not always require the supervision of a person or the reconditioning of the facilities, even if it is a small number of parts. In fact, this is the mode used by Adidas to create custom shoes.

The IoT offers great potential also in the world of marketing . Retail, for example, targets a specific consumer in a specific area. For this reason, with what are known as iBeacons, you can improve your advertising strategy by sending signals to customers' smartphones with a specific offer. Another interesting example is that of smart drink vending machines. These are able to communicate the lack of inventory and possible failures, if they occur, as well as detect summer temperatures to adapt prices to the higher expected demand.

But far from being just an invention, there are real applications of IoT in marketing. The whiskey brand Johnnie Walker has created smart bottles that communicate with the buyer's mobile thanks to NFC technology. The sensors attached to the bottle label send information to the company about the supply chain and the entire customer journey: the sensors record whether the bottle has been opened or remains closed and, depending on this information, the buyer receives information or advice for a more pleasant consumption. For the customer, all this provides an incentive to buy and improves the product experience and, at the same time, the company obtains information about the product life cycle and can send the user personalized advertising.

The impact of the Internet of Things on the economy is also huge. According to a study by the consulting firm McKinsey, in the year 2025 the Internet of Things will have generated around 11.1 billion dollars.

However, Industry 4.0 faces a number of threats at the same time: a very large network offers hackers numerous access points, increasing the risk of data protection breaches and industrial espionage. In addition, if industrial processes are delegated to machines, they will end up replacing human labor not only in those monotonous or dangerous activities, but also in many other areas that generate jobs.

Experts do not agree on determining in what areas and to what extent the IoT will affect professional occupation. On the one hand, digitalization has created new work environments and in many areas smart devices would be limited to assisting employees. On the other hand, some economists predict that Industry 4.0 will be accompanied by a rationalization of jobs. Researcher Andrew McAfee, from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), assumes that by the middle of the 21st century, half of the jobs that now exist will be available. A study from the University of Oxford reaches a very similar conclusion.

Application of the IoT in healthcare

The Internet of Things is also going to revolutionize the healthcare field. The wearables , one of the options available for use in preventive medicine IoT important measure parameters such as heart rate or the glycemic index, helping patients who suffer heart disease or diabetes. In addition to contributing to diagnostic processes, IoT devices also improve hospital and outpatient medical care.

Health prevention and diagnosis

There are IoT devices that are used in the field of health prevention to measure body temperature, analyze respiratory rate, evaluate the chemical composition of sweat and record electrocardiograms, activities that, in theory, can be carried out every hour. It is, therefore, a continuous preventive checkup thanks to the sensors located in wearable devices, in smart toothbrushes or in the smartphone. It is the chronically ill who can benefit the most from the regular control of certain bodily functions. If necessary, these devices can even save their lives. In addition, its use would allow an early diagnosis of insidious diseases that, having been detected in time, can be treated more effectively. Similarly, unnecessary visits to the doctor's office would be avoided and emergency rooms would be decongested, since the subject would be able to distinguish the? Symptoms? harmless of the really important ones.

IoT devices are also good trainers, as they measure the steps and calorie consumption of their users and thus prevent overweight and sedentary lifestyle. These devices connected to the Network? Appeal? to self-responsibility and promote a healthy lifestyle. In the long term it is a very profitable method, it benefits the health system and allows, for example, to invest the money that has been saved in treatments for research.

Whether it is for a private interest or for a research purpose, it is clear that with the Internet of Things, large amounts of medically relevant data can be collected and evaluated over a long period of time. Also, as mentioned, the disease diagnosis process would be much more effective with these devices. Of course, for this it would be necessary to collect anonymously the data obtained by wearables to be analyzed outside the digital context.

Medical devices equipped with artificial intelligence also contribute to making a much more accurate diagnosis faster and more effectively than people themselves. Depending on the patient's symptoms, the device can check for all possible diseases in seconds. With an electronic medical record, patient history and previous test results can be included for comparison with statistical patterns of patients of the same age and gender.

Hospital and ambulatory medical assistance

It is always better at home than in the hospital. With the IoT it is possible to reduce hospital stays, since in certain cases this technology can take care of the patient and monitor their health without having to leave home. Nor are the elderly happy to abandon their independence to live in a nursing home, an uncomfortable change that can be avoided thanks to the presence on the market of devices capable of sending an emergency call. Falls are one of the great dangers older people face, as they are often unable to ask for help. However, carpets equipped with fall sensors automatically warn when this domestic accident occurs. Another use in the healthcare and healthcare sector is drug dispensers that control the intake of pills.

In clinics and hospitals, the Internet of Things is used above all to optimize processes, increase safety? With interconnected drug dispensers that avoid confusion? and improve hygiene with sensors that detect any impurities.

Dangers of the IoT: cyberattacks and data protection

In the IoT, not everything is good. Many experts, in fact, acknowledge that I oT puts the private sphere at risk . In addition, there is still no rule that effectively protects sensitive data from possible abuse.

Orwellian Society: Dystopia or Reality?

Grid-connected electrical appliances, autonomous cars and smart watches are gradually collecting information from all areas of people's lives. It is not only about knowing the web pages that a user visits, but also information that has not yet been evaluated on a large scale by any technology. Together they can create the exact profile of a person , being able to predict behaviors, health states, reactions, etc.

These circumstances force data protection advocates to warn of the danger of mass surveillance . Even when the data is anonymous and cannot identify individual users, it does allow the behavior and habits of a certain population group to be deduced. For all these reasons, data protection advocates fear that states in which the absence of democracy and human rights are a reality could access this data, giving rise to a surveillance system of Orwellian dimensions.

On the other hand, companies collect data with an economic interest . In fact, Apple, Amazon or Google already compete to lead the market for IoT devices. With the help of personalized data, companies offer their customers tailor-made offers. However, users can only control to a certain extent the data that IoT devices transmit to resellers or partner companies.

Only legal provisions could put an end to the comprehensive collection of personal data . In addition, with the implementation of AI, it is increasingly difficult for users to understand and control the way in which IT applications collect, store and manage their data, making it very difficult to securely configure security settings , more so if users turn to various IoT devices in their daily lives. Little is known about what data is collected, which providers carry it out and for what purpose.

It also warns that the right to informational self-determination is in danger . The GPEN (Global Privacy Enforcement Network) has recently investigated, with the participation of regulatory authorities from around the world, the data protection conditions of 300 IoT devices. The study showed that in most cases providers did not transparently explain to users how their data would be used.

How to protect yourself from cyberattacks?

Advocates of data protection consider it even more worrying that no solution is being worked on to guarantee the safety of users, which increases the possibility of hacker attacks and information theft in the Internet of Things. A study by the German consumer defense organization and foundation Stiftung Warentest found that most of the devices analyzed showed significant security breaches that gave cybercriminals free access and transmitted personal data unencrypted, so that access to data Sensitive personal photos, credit card numbers or email account passwords is easy.

Being part of the same network, a vast number of devices are exchanging information without pause, which makes the IoT accessible at many points making it, therefore, prone to being manipulated. If there are several objects related to each other, it is easier to access several devices from a single interface. Cybercriminals can access a smart home's front door control and alarm system through other devices, such as kitchen fires. And it's proven: an IT company was able to gain access to a user's Google passwords by hacking into their Samsung refrigerator.

Furthermore, cybercriminals are not limited to stealing data, but are also capable of handling the set of connected devices. Some research confirms this, such as, for example, the one carried out on Fiat Chrysler's Jeep Cherokee car. After having accessed the interface control it was possible to operate the brakes and steering wheel by remote control.

Some security experts warn that in an interconnected world it would be practically impossible to avoid this type of manipulation on factories, water supply companies or nuclear power plants. The good news is that little by little the voices that ask for greater protection will increase and they will be taken into account by the developers, which will lead to some changes. In fact, for example, they are working on developing a router app that has control over interconnected home devices and detects irregular traffic.

Vulnerability in the system

Targeted cyberattacks aren't the only danger for IoT devices - bugs are too. Critics of the Internet of Things warn of the risk of blindly relying on autonomous technology that is in principle error-free. Due to a computer defect, a device can miss an important value in a medical diagnosis and, consequently, administer the wrong medication. On the other hand, smart cities require a complex infrastructure with thousands of sensors and other elements. So that this system does not slow down, human control is necessary.

IoT and the (absence of) net neutrality

How does the IoT affect the digital society? Due to the technology behind the Internet of Things, the debates also focus on discussing the neutrality of the network, which would cease to exist as such, since the 5G mobile phone application provides for its segmentation. This segmentation, in English Network Slicing, is about the partition of the mobile Internet into virtual segments, each of which serves various applications whose data is transmitted at different speeds, thus creating a flexible 5G network that, for example, processes the voice applications differently from video applications.

The advocates of network segmentation justify the need for the procedure to manage an increasing volume of data and ensure real - time transmission . If all data packets were handled at the same time, a real-time reaction from data-intensive applications would not be possible. And it is understandable that a car that needs to brake suddenly should have a higher priority than a purchase reminder.

The detractors of network segmentation , however, consider it an attack on network neutrality . The Internet, as we know it until now, would cease to exist, as certain actions would be prioritized. In addition, it should be taken into account that companies would increase costs depending on the degree of prioritization and therefore consumers could be limited. Not forgetting that network segmentation jeopardizes free competition in the digital economy, for example, giving preference to companies that can easily cope with higher costs than newer companies.

Of course, if programmers take into account all the warning voices in the development of the Internet of Things, the positive aspects of this new technology in everyday life would be enormous.


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