The “Internet of Things” (IoT) has moved from the realms of science and technology through the business world. It is now a subject that is talked about by the general public – even if they are not quite sure what the IoT is or what it might mean for the future.

It is a concept that will undoubtedly have a significant effect on how we will live and on how we will do business. The general public is probably aware that the IoT will change many things in their life, but are perhaps less sure as to what precisely meant by the term “Internet of things” and how far-reaching will its influence be. There are many interlocking intricate parts to the “Internet of things” which are probably beyond the scope of this article; we will attempt to lay out the rudimentary facets of the concept of the IoT, as it is commonly understood.

The structure

Home Wi-Fi/4G is now widely accessible, the expense of connection is plummeting, more and more Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets are entering the market place, innovation costs are falling, and almost everyone has access to a smart mobile device. It is this use and widespread growth of this underlying hardware which is providing the base for the expansion of the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things?

The basic idea underlying the concept of the IoT can be put simply; any gadget with an on and off switch and access to the Internet can become linked. Thus everything from mobile phones, espresso machines, washing/tumble dryers, earphones, light fittings, wearable gadgets, and practically anything else you care to consider, can become linked and interact with each other. Not only does this apply to machines but also extends to specific parts of devices, for instance, a plane’s engine or something as basic as the drill bit of a gas/oil platform.

As discussed earlier, if a product has a switch for on/off, it may be considered to be a component of the IoT. Gartner, a leading compiler of data in this field, believes that by 2020 there will be more than 26 billion Wi-Fi associated gadgets. That is a lot of linkable systems (some even gauge this number to be a lot higher, more than 100 billion).

So as we can see, the IoT is already a vast system of associated “things” – and importantly included in those “things” are we humans. It is this relationship, the one between man and machine, that will revolutionise how we work play and interact with each other and the world. In effect, the IoT will see a revolution in human to human, human to gadget and gadget to gadget connectivity. An increase in connectivity will open the door to a world-changing level of inter-cooperation between man and machine, covering a hitherto unimaginable level of activities and processes. This cooperation, it is believed, will see vast increases in productivity and economic output. Exponential growth in connectivity, in turn, could change the very nature of how human beings interact with both machines and other human beings. These new enhanced interactions will open the way for a new leap forward in both social and economic progress – a jump that some commentators have suggested will surpass that of the Industrial Revolution.