Posts Tagged ‘Internet of things’

The Internet of Things is about to change how we live and work

January 2, 2018 Leave a comment

intel_iot-m1Last week, the Communication Authority of Kenya released its sector statistics report for July to September 2017 showing that Internet penetration has hit 112.7% in the country. This is higher than the mobile penetration rate which stood at 90.4% for the same period.

The availability of Internet access presents a great opportunity for individuals and businesses to improve their lives and operations through efficiencies gained by adopting the Internet as a tool in their daily activities.

As the technology evolves, the Internet as we know it is also rapidly changing, it is now no longer restricted in virtual interfaces such as web browsers and apps such as WhatsApp or Youtube. The Internet is now moving out of the screen and into the real world and will soon be part and parcel of our living and working environments. Many items in our environment from the clothes we wear, furniture to electric appliances and homes will become part of the Internet in what is now known as the Internet of things or IoT in short.

By connecting all these items to the internet (and ultimately to each other), The IoT will present us with endless possibilities to better our lives from an individual perspective and also lower costs and create new revenue streams for businesses.

Take for example the idea of connected fabrics and wearables which will connect all your clothes and other attire to the Internet. This will enable your shirt for example to detect the chemicals in your sweat and send this information to your email or WhatsApp telling you that based on the chemicals in your sweat, you are about to come down with an infection, the shirt or wearable will also be able to take your heart rate and blood pressure constantly and warn you or even share this information directly with your doctor. Another example in IoT connected fabrics is wearing your favourite football jersey that immediately glows when your team or favourite player scores a goal. Connected homes will also present a great opportunity for families. Take for example a fully connected home where the fridge detects that butter is running out and automatically adds this to the your shopping list that is resident in your phone or tablet. The phone or tablet will then send you a reminder when it detects you approaching a supermarket that stocks that particular brand of butter that you love. Imagine also getting an early morning meeting appointment in your calendar and this automatically adjusts your wake-up alarm to an earlier time than normal bases on traffic conditions of the route you intend to use to the meeting from your house. This same alarm will also send a signal to switch on the water heater slightly earlier than normal.

On the business front, organizations stand to benefit a great deal from the IoT. Using the butter and connected shirt example above, the supermarket can place small screens on shopping trolleys that automatically display your shopping list when your phone is near the trolley and automatically deletes each item you pick and place in the IoT-enabled trolley, the screen can also have shopping floor navigation aids to help you easily locate shelves hosting the items in your shopping list. They can also place sensors at the shelves that will make your shirt give you a signal (this can be vibration or change in colour of the shirt) when you pass by the frozen display area where butter is kept. Businesses can also adopt IoT in their processes to improve efficiency. For example, insurance companies can use sensors embedded in cars they insure to accurately gauge driver behaviour on the road and offer lower premiums to good drivers and higher premiums to reckless ones. County governments can also leverage the IoT to improve efficiency in parking space management in cities and towns. For example, sensors under each parking slot can be connected to mobile app or to IoT-enabled cars to indicate free or occupied slots and automatically navigate the drive to the nearest free slot, they can also measure how long a particular car has parked and automatically bill the car owner on time spent basis. The county government can also implement different parking rates based on demand for space and for traffic control too (e.g slots farther from the CBD would be made cheaper than those in CBD.

The IoT can also bring significant efficiencies into the agricultural sector. Aquaculture farmers in Vietnam are already using IoT sensors to detect pond water salinity and automatically switching on fresh water pumps to dilute the pond water to the correct salinity, the pump switching system is also connected to an IoT-enabled mini weather station that will delay switching on if rains are forecasted.

Despite great strides made on the internet penetration in Kenya, more needs to be done to create a conducive environment for the growth and adoption of the IoT. This could include passing the necessary legislation on cyber security and privacy, two major concerns in the adoption of the IoT. It is estimated that there will be over 75 billion IoT devices in the world by 2025 making IoT enabled devices ubiquitous, this presents a great opportunity for Kenya to once again lead its peers on new technology adoption.

Categories: IoT Tags: , , ,

How IPv6 will change the way we use the Internet

September 25, 2012 3 comments

The current Internet infrastructure is built on an addressing scheme known as IPv4 which in full stands for Internet Protocol version 4. These addresses are assigned to each device that is connected to the Internet be it a mobile phone, tablet, desktop computer, router or server.

The sad news however is that due to the tremendous growth and poor planning the Internet has experienced in the last ten or so years, the available IPv4 addresses are getting depleted. The  Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) which is the body responsible for allocating these addresses is on the verge of handling out the last unallocated addresses in the Internet’s IPv4 address space. The IANA is currently down to five unallocated “Class A” blocks of 16 million addresses each; under IANA and ICANN rules, those blocks will now be allocated (one each) to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIR’s)—the African Network Information Center (AfRINIC), the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), the Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Centre (LACNIC), and RIPE NCC (Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre). This means there are effectively no more unassigned Internet addresses available for ISP’s and others to expand the number of machines they have connected to the Internet.

There are about 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses that can be used, these would seem as sufficient considering only about 2 billion people have access to the Internet. The fast depletion of IPv4 addresses was caused by several factors such as:

  • Proliferation of mobile devices that can connect to the Internet. One person had several devices connected to the Internet each with its own unique IP address.
  • Poor and inefficient use of address blocks by ISP’s and end users due to ad hoc network growth with virtually no planning. There was a time when everyone though the IPv4 space would never get depleted and this made network admins careless.
  • “Always on” connections that ‘hoard’ IP addresses even when not in active use.

As it stands, if nothing is done to assign addresses to the millions of new devices that need to be connected to the Internet, there will soon be a crisis as users will lack addresses. If a device lacks an address, it cannot connect to the Internet.

Enter IPv6

A solution to the depletion of IPv4 addresses is to have all users on the Internet adopt the use of IPv6 addressing scheme. (One of my favorite interview questions to would-be network engineers is ask them why we are moving from IPv4 to IPv6 and not IPv5, you should see the puzzled faces). The IPv6 addressing scheme will avail slightly over 340 trillion IP addresses for use. To put that into perspective, there will be over 100,000 IP addresses available per square meter of the earths surface including land and sea. That means each and every device today can get an IP address, be it your computer, phone, toaster, wrist watch, fridge, door, water heater, car, alarm clock, oven etc. If devices become IP enabled, this will spawn a new way of doing things. The Internet will no longer be about information but about things.

The Internet of Things

Imagine a world where everything is interconnected. Let us assume you get a meeting invite for tomorrow 7AM. Let us also assume that your usual arrival time to the office is 8:30AM on normal days. The meeting invite lands on your outlook calendar and the following events then happen between the time you receive and accept the invite to the time you eave the meeting:

  • Your Outlook notes that your home wake up alarm is usually set to go off at 7:40AM because you normally wake up at that time. Outlook then adjusts your alarm to wake you up at 6:00AM or 6:30AM depending on the predicted traffic conditions and weather tomorrow morning.
  • Your alarm notes this change and appropriately adjusts the time your water heating system comes on by making it come on an hour earlier than usual (because this day you will wake up earlier than usual).
  • Once the water heater is done heating your water, it alerts the coffee maker to come on and have your coffee ready the minute you come off the bathroom.
  • because even your lights have IPv6 addresses, when you switch on your dining room lights after dressing, the lights instruct the toaster to start toasting your bread so that by the time you are done pouring your coffee, the toast is ready.
  • You apply the last bit of butter to your toast and throw away the can.
  • While having your breakfast, you tune to a radio station on your home audio system. As you leave to your car, your home system communicates with your car and tunes to the exact station you were listening to in the house.
  • Based on your meeting location, the car’s GPS system gets the address from your outlook calendar and plots out your travel route based on traffic conditions on the road.
  • Assuming you arrive at your meeting and its put off for about 30 minutes due to one reason or the other, you update that on your phone and all your meetings and activities for that day are appropriately adjusted
  • Based on your twitter and Facebook statuses in the course of the day, your mood can be predicted and appropriate music played in your car/home to sooth you. If your social media statuses indicate that you have had a long day and are tired, your jacuzzi will note that and have  a bubbly indulgence waiting for you the minute you step into your house later in the day.
  • However, on your way home as you approach the local supermarket, your car alerts you that you ran out of butter in your house (because the fridge noticed you did not return the butter can into it after your breakfast).
  • Your cars GPS directs you to the supermarket parking where there is a free parking slot (because the parking slots also have IP connectivity and can communicate their availability to cars searching for free parking space). You alight and buy your butter then head home.

All this is possible if each and every device on the Internet can get an IPv6 address, this will only be possible through the adoption and use of IPv6. The Internet will no longer be about information and data, it will be about our daily lives.