RFID and the Emerging IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the newly emerging model for the network of addressable physical objects (which can just about be any “thing”) that include electronics, software, sensors, RFID tags, and network connectivity. This capability enables these things to collect, process, store, and exchange data.
The IoT allows these network-aware entities to be sensed, scanned, and controlled remotely across an existing network infrastructure. This creates opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and results in improved efficiency, accuracy, and many other economic benefits. Every thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system and can communicate within the existing Internet infrastructure. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020!
The IoT actually started with RFID. A British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton first coined the term in 1999 while working at the Auto-ID Labs. The IoT is expected to offer seamless connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond current machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications. The mesh interconnection of these things—also called “smart objects” — is expected to bring in automation in many new fields such as remotely controlling homes and also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid and intelligent control of utilities.
A “Thing” in the IoT world refers to a wide assortment of devices ranging from heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, and field operation devices that assist firefighters in search and rescue operations. These devices collect useful data using various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that use Wi-Fi for remote monitoring. Things will also contain RFID tags that will allow them to be read in many conventional and new RFID applications.
Besides the many new types of possible applications for Internet connected automation to expand into, the IoT is also expected to generate large amounts of data from diverse locations that gets aggregated very quickly, thereby increasing the need to better index, store, and process such data. The use of big data technologies including Hadoop and NoSQL databases will begin to become ubiquitous.
As the IoT matures, the role of RFID enabled things—often augmented with various types of sensors– will grow as assets and other tagged items will be monitored and controlled over the network. Many new and innovative applications will be developed to utilize these new RFID capabilities.
Got any great ideas on the Internet of Things and its developing relationship with RFID? Let us know in the comments!