WSIS: 'Net will enable interactivity with common objects

The ITU released a report "The Internet of Things," which points to the rapid emergence of ubiquitous network connectivity.

Imagine things like doorknobs, toasters and lightbulbs communicating with each other in a network that far exceeds anything we know today. The concept, often referred to as ubiquitous computing, isn't new. What's new is that technologies are now emerging to make it happen sooner than many of us imagine.

That is the key message of a report "The Internet of Things," which was presented Thursday at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, Tunisia.

The report points to four key technologies, all at advanced stages, that will enable ubiquitous network connectivity: RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, sensor, embedded intelligence and nanotechnology.

In this new world, for instance, clothes embedded with chips will communicate with sensor-equipped washing machines about colors and their suitable washing temperatures and bags will remind their owners that they have forgotten something.

The result will be billions of new Internet "users" in the form of objects that will push humans into the minority as generators and receivers of 'Net traffic.

"There are challenges, such as standards and governance of these resources, but we're moving toward a world in which the many things around us will soon be communicating with each other without any interaction from us," said Lara Srivastava, telecommunications policy analyst at the ITU.

Machine-to-machine communication, already happening today, will gain substantial traction over the next few years, said Srivastava, who presented the report at a news conference in Tunis.

At a panel discussion, MIT Media Lab Chairman Nicholas Negroponte spoke of his vision of an entirely new networked world, far more ubiquitous than the network of computers that we now have linked to the Internet. "Things will play an important role in the Internet themselves," Negroponte said. "The future is a meshed network of things. Objects will speak to other objects via other objects."

A big advantage of a meshed network, according to Negroponte, is that all these connected, embedded devices can cooperate and help each other. "Failure won't be as binary," he said.

A similar view is held by Jonathan Murray, vice president and chief technology officer of Microsoft's EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region. "Software will make these devices smart and able to communicate end to end," he said. "In this new world, it's not about personal computing but about community computing and sharing information."

Despite all the benefits such a ubiquitous network society could bring, John Gage, chief researcher and director of the science office at Sun Microsystems Inc., warned of "the very deep implications" of this new world. He pointed to the ability of technology to gather increasingly more information about us.

"Every Google search you do is retained forever," Gage said. "And look at how RFID tags can track your location. When identity and location structures overlap, we're no longer anonymous."

A big concern, according to Gage, is that certain groups, like the police, are predestined to want to know everything. "So privacy, get over it; we're going to become a different kind of society," he said.

Governance could also be a challenge in such a massive peer-to-peer network, Gage said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Blau

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?