The Internet of Things

If you’re wondering what the Internet of Things is, our latest Essential Knowledge book, The Internet of Things by Samuel Greengard is a good start. Below, Greengard writes about “How the Internet of Things Will Shape our Lives in 2025.”

Since the beginning of time, humans have pondered the future. Leonardo da Vinci imagined incredible machines that would fly and use the sun to generate power. Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov predicted a world filled with sophisticated robots. And mathematician Alan Turing foresaw machines that could think far beyond human capabilities—a.k.a. computers.

Now, the next phase of the future is unfolding before our eyes. It’s a space where physical and virtual objects connect and interconnect—and in the process introduce smart homes, connected cities and a level of automation and artificial intelligence that will radically redefine our lives. In fact, the Internet of Things promises to introduce greater change over the next decade than perhaps the entire history of human evolution.

By the year 2025, our homes will have automated lighting systems and thermostats that recognize when we are in a room and adjust accordingly—even based on whether we’re eating dinner or watching a movie. Voice commands will allow us to change settings at any moment and manage a spate of other functions, such as operating entertainment systems. Connected door locks—operated by smartphones—will likely be widespread, and sprinkler systems will monitor ground moisture, temperature and check the weather forecast to optimize watering. In addition, sensors will tell us when a refrigerator or washing machine requires repair or replacement—before it breaks.

Our personal space will also change. We will wear clothing and wearable devices that collect and deliver information in far deeper and broader ways. At the same time, nearly microscopic devices—microbots and nanobots—will travel inside our bodies. This will offer deep insights into our health and wellness. Not only will we understand how to exercise optimally, we will receive early warnings if our arteries are clogged or a cancer is developing. What’s more, if an organ fails, doctors will print 3D replacement parts—perhaps even a pancreas, lung or heart.

Our automobiles and transportation networks will evolve too. Highly automated vehicles—embedded with sensors and using both on-board and cloud processing—will create safer and more efficient transportation systems. Cars—that in many cases drive themselves—will connect to other cars so that a motorist can take the fastest route on any given day—and find a parking place immediately. These automobiles will peer around corners using data from other vehicles. This will allow a car to brake automatically if a bicyclist or pedestrian darts out from a blind alley. Likewise, the pedestrian at risk could receive a vibration or audio alert that danger is imminent.