What is The Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things has become a sort of shorthand for network-aware smart objects that connect the physical world with the world of information. A smart object has four key attributes: it is small, and thus easy to attach to almost anything; it has a unique identifier; it has a small store of data or information; and it has a way to communicate that information to an external device on demand. The Internet of Things extends that concept by using TCP/IP as the means to convey the information, thus making objects addressable (and findable) on the Internet. Objects that carry information with them have long been used for the monitoring of sensitive equipment or materials, point-of-sale purchases, passport tracking, inventory management, identification, and similar applications. Smart objects are the next generation of those technologies — they “know” about a certain kind of information, such as cost, age, temperature, color, pressure, or humidity — and can pass that information along easily and instantly upon electronic request. They are ideal for digital management of physical objects, monitoring their status, tracking them throughout their lifespan, alerting someone when they are in danger of being damaged or spoiled — or even annotating them with descriptions, instructions, warranties, tutorials, photographs, connections to other objects, and any other kind of contextual information imaginable. The Internet of Things would make access to these data as easy as it is to use the web.