The internet of things (IoT) is the predicted consequence of massive growth in the number of devices that will be connected to the internet over the coming decade. Cisco calculated in 2012 that some 8.7 billion computers of various types had the ability to connect to the internet and that this number, driven by rapid growth in machine-to-machine (M2M) communication applications, would reach 50 billion by 2020.
Cisco claims that the rise will be propelled by declining connectivity costs – a 25 per cent drop per annum to 2020: "We assume the price-elasticity of demand to be ~1 and consequently expect annual growth in the number of things to be 25 per cent CAGR during 2013-20."
Most 'things' that will be connected are expected to be sensor and actuator nodes that may be connected directly to the wider internet or which may only gain access through gateways. Mike Muller, CTO of ARM, said in summer 2013 many applications will be on private networks. For example, parking garages may use magnetic or other sensor technologies to detect cars in their parking bays and use that data to provide real-time information to drivers on where best to park and how much it will cost. Only the aggregate data is likely to be provided via the internet.
In other applications, such as intelligent street lighting, sensor data may be provided by third parties over the internet and fed to a network of power switches that control one or more street lamps interconnected by wireless or powerline links.
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