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Defining the Internet of Things
MAR 16, 2015 07:26 AM
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Defining the Internet of Things
By Irena Bojanova
The Internet of Things is a reality now. Much is here and more is coming in full speed. We are already able to monitor our health through wearables, get our houses and cars on the phone, use our human bodies for data transmission, and sense the environment. 
Hungry? Then send your oven a message. Meeting people? Then exchange contacts through handshakes. Worried about climate change? Then analyze what trees are texting about. Look only at the variety of wearable technology applications that are nicely depicted in the graphic below.
The new digital industrial economy is being built upon the Nexus of Forces in combination with IoT, unlocking an incredible opportunity to connect everything together. This Nexus is evolving through the convergence and mutual reinforcement of social, mobile, cloud, and information. Social and mobile provide the platform for effective interactions, while Cloud offers the computational and information delivery infrastructure. The gap between ideas and actions is being rapidly reduced through near-global connectivity, pervasive mobility, industrial-strength compute services, access to vast amounts of information, and opportunities to analyze it and act on it. 
Currently, there is no universally-accepted definition of IoT or a “thing.” Mark Weiser envisioned the technology behind IoT in the early 1990s, and as it has evolved, the concept has been called ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, ambient computing – and now the Internet of Things (IoT), a term RFID pioneer Kevin Ashton claims to have coined in 1999. Some of the available definitions of IoT are as follows:
Wikipedia: The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.
Gartner: Network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.
European Research Cluster on IoT (IERC): A dynamic global network infrastructure with self-configuring capabilities based on standard and interoperable communication protocols where physical and virtual ‘things’ have identities, physical attributes, and virtual personalities, use intelligent interfaces, and are seamlessly integrated into the information network.
IEEE IoT Initiative (working draft): 
Small environment scenario: a network that connects uniquely identifiable “Things” to the Internet; the “Things” have sensing/actuation and potential programmability capability; Information about the “Thing” can be collected; The state of the “Thing” can be changed from anywhere, at anytime, by anything. 
Large environment scenario: A self-configuring and adaptive complex network that interconnects “Things” to the Internet through the use of interoperable communication protocol.
Have ideas or sources on how IoT is being or should be defined? Please share them in the comments section.
In future posts, I will discuss IoT components, available and emerging IoT frameworks, products, and solutions; IoT government efforts; IoT standardization issues; and of course what is the big deal about IoT security.
Irena Bojanova, Ph.D., is a program chair, a professor at UMUC and a computer scientist at NIST. She is the founding chair of IEEE CS Cloud Computing Special Technical Community,  a  Co‐Chair  of the IEEE Reliability Society IoT Technical Committee, and a founding member of the IEEE Technical Sub‐Committee on Big Data. She is Acting EIC of the IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing, AEIC of the IEEE IT Professional, and AE of the International Journal of Big Data Intelligence (IJBDI). Dr. Bojanova is a General Co‐Chair of ISSRE 2015 and OC member of STC 2015 Conference. You can read her Cloud and IoT blogs on Dr. Bojanova is a senior member of IEEE and can be reached at
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