You know the Internet of Things or The Internet of Things. (Industrial) Internet of Things and wonder where the journey is headed? Let us ask future research!
Short history of the Internet
In times of digitalization, no one can get past computer topics. But moment! Hand on heart: since when has this digitalization actually been around? It depends on the scale you set.
- Digitization did not appear in the broad perception of the Western world until after the turn of the millennium, when “this Internet, as it was often called at the time, slowly spread. At that time you probably already had a PC at home and maybe already an Internet line with more than 56k or ISDN modem. Amazon was founded in 1994, and from 1995 onwards, goods were traded between private individuals in the online auction house ebay.
- The commercialization of the Internet began in 1989, and not only an iron curtain fell. Suddenly, thanks to the Domain Name System (DNS), it was possible to access a website created somewhere in the world by pioneers of the world wide web by entering www addresses and a browser – probably Netscape or Opera at that time. Previously, global connections had already emerged in the 1960s; driven mainly by the military, fueled by the “Sputnik shock”. The first emails were sent in the late 1970s.
- As early as 1938, Konrad Zuse completed the first modern and above all digitally working computer based on transistors. All ancient precursors worked purely mechanically (e.g. abacus) and have little to do with the subject of this article. Can we agree for this article that, firstly, digitalization and the Internet – digital computers and the Internet – are older than commonly recognized and, secondly, have not yet reached their full potential. It’s just started.
From the Internet to the Internet of Things to the Internet of Everything
With the first networked computers, it quickly became clear that in addition to the “Moore’s Law“, which describes the exponential doubling of the computing speed and storage capacity of computer systems at the same price, another powerful mechanism would have an impact. The “Metcalfe law” states that in communication networks the total benefit increases proportionally to the number of possible connections, while the costs increase only proportionally to the number of participants. Transferred to the Internet, the combination of the two laws has rapidly led to immense values being generated almost out of nowhere simply through networking itself. This value is difficult to measure quantitatively or qualitatively, as is tragically demonstrated not least by a “dotcom” speculative bubble in March 2000.
Today, we all use the Internet for granted. We googling everything we don’t know ourselves, look at Wikipedia instead of the lexicon, offer goods on online exchanges, order books, furniture and groceries on the Internet. Without the Internet, many shelves in your supermarket would look different, communicating with friends and relatives across national borders would be difficult or very expensive, and you would be significantly less high-quality produced series or cat videos from Hobby vets.
As a result of the miniaturization of computer chips, a person living in Germany uses 1.6 mobile phones, 95% of 14- to 49-year-olds use a smartphone, more and more wearables like smartwatches connect the existing devices with the digital twin of the owners, while the data streams into the cloud (i.e. in data centers somewhere on earth) and generate added value. In industry, plants and devices are interconnected, every new car sold today has an internet connection, the Internet of Things is present. The Metcalfe law has long been in force here: the companies that sell the devices do not necessarily have to make the largest turnover. A software layer is very successful in the revenue streams and developers from San Francisco to Berlin and Tel Aviv to Bangladesh earn a lot.
On average, every German household had 500 connected devices in 2018, and worldwide it is expected to be around 50 billion by 2020. The trend is unbroken: everything that can be digitized will be digitized. I don’t know who made that statement first, presumably someone from Silicon Valley. Translated, this means – for this topic – that in the coming years all everyday objects will be equipped with IP addresses and transmitting function, including clothing, household appliances, packaging material, furniture, bodies, internal organs…
Short Future of the Internet: The Omninet
- Every hearing aid, every pacemaker, every smart mirror now contains more high-tech than the computers that calculated the lunar mission. Even the health sector is, of course, now subject to free market logic – where there is an offer that satisfies a (possibly unknown) need, markets around the world can conquer.
- Already today, more than 50,000 people worldwide wear an NFC or RFID chip under the skin (t3n 2017), I am one of them. Today, data can be stored on the approximately rice-grain-sized implants, such as the health file, links to your favorite music or social profiles. Anything you do with a hotel room card can be done by the chip; provided that the card typewriter at the hotel reception is compatible with it. Anything a credit card can do, if you pay contactless at the supermarket checkout, the chip can. From insider conversations, I know that the big credit card companies are still hesitant, but a notable German bank is working on allowing a banking process to allow the cyborgs to pay contactless even without a wallet.
- IBM announced in 2017 that it will launch the “lab on a chip” in five years. The idea: a nanochip the size of a few nanometers is injected into the blood path to permanently observe human vital or inflammatory values. Unfortunately, many deadly diseases – including breast and prostate cancer – are detected too late, as they do not cause discomfort in the early stages, when the chances of cure are still close to 100%.
- A handful of companies are developing contact lenses that can not only increase vision up to 150% using a computer chip, but can also display virtual information such as navigation data, a football game or Wikipedia article. I also expect these lenses, which will not focus exclusively on people with visual impairment, to be ready for the market in 2022.
In the 2030s, companies like Neuralink could launch minichips for use in the brain. The purpose: storage of thoughts in a cloud, downloading knowledge from the Internet, optimizing thinking performance based on AI…. and all these devices are connected to the Internet. Welcome to Omninet, where you and your digital twin will have their own IP address. Incidentally, your digital twin will make its own decisions and be independently liable for them as an electronic person on the basis of the legislation.
Please explain to me why, in view of these revolutionary advances of the past few decades, there is still no school subject, why employees are not regularly digitally trained, why there is no serious Digitisation Ministry and why is the old economic logic still being adhered to?
Wikipedia (2019): Digitization, online: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitalisierung, retrieved on 19.05.2019.
Wikipedia (2019): History of the computer, online: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschichte_des_Computers, retrieved on 19.05.2019.
Wikipedia (2019): Internet, online: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet, accessed 19.05.2019.