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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Almost as soon as the Internet emerged as an idea– its basic protocols in the early 70s, in fact– it was clear that it could be used to connect things. And I remember being involved in the mid 80s on plans to connect parts of the house– fridges, lighting systems, energy systems, and so on– and make them more efficient. Well, it’s interesting. Many technologies take time to come to fruition. I mean things like IPv6 is a great example. It’s been here forever. I mean, since I started, which is a long time ago. But it only came to fruition when the requirement really came, and people were able to do it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds So sometimes technology and technology solutions require the buyers to be in the right position, the social environment to be right, but also the technology. And I think IoT, in principle, has always been there, but the marginal cost of sensors, the ability for pervasive networks to be there, the capabilities on Wi-Fi and low speed, wireless networks is now around. So a number of the pieces of the jigsaw are now in place, which probably mean that the applications can now go over the top, which is really the key to it. It’s a bit like the internet. You couldn’t have built the internet because you wanted to run Amazon. That would have been a bit of expensive business model.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds But when the internet was there, Amazon, eBay, Google, et cetera could exist. Well, I think the same is true of the IoT. Once you create the pieces of the jigsaw that start to be there, the pervasive network, the wireless capability, the low cost sensors, et cetera, et cetera– then you start to see the applications appear. And that’s what magic will happen I think. So IoT is absolutely revolutionary. But it’s not revolutionary in the same way as the invention of the steam engine or the invention of the regular Internet. It’s not like you suddenly have this new infrastructure that suddenly like arrives. It’s not like the Internet of Things will be launched in June 2016.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 seconds And there’ll be a day when it’s turned on. And suddenly everything starts talking to you. It’s really just a slow accretion of all of these new capabilities that’s coming about because, through Moore’s law and other sort of industrial innovations, we’ve got connectivity and both in terms of the actual data pipe and also connectivity in terms of the componentry that you need to connect something to the Internet is now cheap enough that we can start connecting things. And so is it a big revolution? Yes.

Skip to 2 minutes and 50 seconds But I think it’s going to be a medium term thing that sort of slowly, over 20 years, as old stuff breaks and is replaced by new stuff, that new stuff is connected to the internet just by default. Because you might as well, because the little bit of electronics that you need to stick it online is $0.50. And why not, right? And so is it a revolution in terms of will we be storming the barricades next summer? No. Is it a revolution in terms of when we look back in 30 years time, we’ll be like wow, things really changed in the way we did we do stuff? Yes. I think so.

Skip to 3 minutes and 37 seconds The Internet of Things is going to change society as a whole. It will mean the objects around us are perpetually communicating with each other– fantastic opportunities, but real risks. The opportunity is that when the four Sim cards active in a given flat are all more than two kilometres away, you can automatically turn down the thermostat in the flat by three degrees and turn it up when they’re within five kilometres again. You can do all that type of thing. Your fridge, when it’s low running low on milk, can order milk to be delivered from Tesco for you to have your fridge to be replenished. Those are all the kind of simple things that will happen in the coming years.

Skip to 4 minutes and 14 seconds If you have a frail elderly lady living on her own who’s got a wrist band that is monitoring her movements and start tracking that she’s wobbling slightly more as she walks into the kitchen, so her risks of a fall in the next 24 hours are rising, so you then have an intervention, incidentally, probably prompted by a change in her drug prescription that’s normally a prelude to an accident in the home for elderly people– then you can deliver social care and enable people who live independently in their home much better. On the other hand, people will also be able to track individuals through society. People will know where you are.

Skip to 4 minutes and 49 seconds They’ll know much more accurately what you’re spending and things like that. So privacy protection linked to the issue of cyber security, linked to the issue of what we should know about our fellow citizens and what we should not know are going to be a very important tricky set of issues. That’s why this is both a fascinating engineering and technological challenge. But it can’t be detached from fundamental questions about the rights of an individual in a modern society. The Internet of Things opens up many opportunities. And if you think about it the other way around, what is not connected today is quite an interesting way of thinking about it. You can start to imagine more efficiency with energy management.

Skip to 5 minutes and 31 seconds You can start to imagine better security in a city where perhaps the connected thing may help make a zone or area secure. But also you can think about cleanliness, greenness, better informed citizens, better movement of traffic. Lots of things come with the Internet of Things. It has an impact on society which is huge for innovation through to jobs, through to the citizen and communities.

Skip to 5 minutes and 59 seconds The IoT has mainly been driven by engineers and technologists thinking about how hardware and data and bits and so on can coordinate the physical flows of the city. But we’ve learned from a lot of the mistakes of big smart city projects that only thinking about hardware doesn’t work very well, because it’s humans who make cities work. And they don’t often like the visions, the utopias created by the engineers and technologists. And we’ve seen that in examples like new Songdo in Korea or Masdar in Abu Dhabi. City models which work beautifully on the screen, simply didn’t work in practise because of the people.

Skip to 6 minutes and 33 seconds So the next generation of smart cities is trying to link the best of the technology and the hardware with much more citizen engagement. China is a very good example of this. Nearly 200 smart city projects underway and trying to link much smarter sensors, logistics, and so on with citizen involvement on things like measuring air quality or generating new civic-led solutions to reducing car congestion or using the city’s assets in more efficient ways. And I think this is a 360-degree approach to the smart cities where it’s top down and bottom up. It’s hardware and software. It’s the stuff and the people. We’ll become much more productive. And this is really the linking of social innovation to technology innovation.

Skip to 7 minutes and 17 seconds And that’s always been what cities have done at their best. But in a way, we forgot some of those lessons in the last few years with models of technological change which were to, in some ways, inhuman– too much just about the stuff and not about the humans.

Skip to 7 minutes and 35 seconds The British government is backing the Internet of Things, because it’s part of a very significant group of technologies where the UK has a real opportunity. We have historically been very good in mobile telephony. And we want to regain our lead in mobile telephony as we move on to 4G and then 5G communications. When you’ve got 5G communications, you’ve got such intense capacity to communicate, that it becomes possible to for the Internet of Things to function. And within the Internet of Things, you particularly can enable robotics and autonomous systems to operate. And Britain has got historical strengths in robotics.

Skip to 8 minutes and 13 seconds So there is a coherent vision underpinning all this, that we we should be world leaders in the Internet of Things, connected objects within the Internet of Things, namely robotic systems, and the 5G mobile communications that makes the communications between those objects possible. That is what we are backing. It’s where you have, at places like the University of Surrey at Guildford, a really important shared research centre. And why of course, we here at King’s are doing excellent work as well led by you, Mischa.

The evolution and transformation of the Internet of Things

In this video, you will hear from various IoT experts about whom you can find further information in the SEE ALSO links below.

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This video is from the free online course:

The Internet of Things

King's College London