A Concise Overview of Recent Advances in the Internet of Things (IoT)

A lot happened in IoT during 2016. Read this post for a briefing on some of the most important events, how they unfolded, and what they mean moving forward, complete with select videos to reinforce and elaborate.

Raphaelle Roffo, Grakn Labs.

Editor's note: Originally posted as part of Grakn's Advent at Grakn Labs series. #GraknLovesTech

In 2016, the Internet of Things (IoT) has impacted our lives in both visible and invisible ways. Fitness trackers tend to be what comes to mind when we talk about the IoT, but there is much more to it and some of the IoT applications are not directly visible to all of us. So here is a selection of some of 2016 best innovations in the wearable and smart platforms technologies.

1. Wearable technology

Wearables refers to all those smart connected devices that you wear on your body or as an implant, and that collect personal data, such as your health. Fitness trackers are by far the most popular type of wearable. We were pretty sad yesterday to read that Pebble, a pioneer of smart watches and the most funded Kickstarted project back in 2012, is being acquired by Fitbit. But there was more to the news on wearable technology in 2016.

We were especially interested in wearable technology for health — with devices that help you control your blood pressure, stress levels, fertility, weight, sleep... Take, for instance, this asthma management system:

Or this — slightly creepy — wireless coach called Moov:

Personally, I’m not sure I would love having somebody that forces me to run faster or to change gears on my bike, but I’m sure athletes and very fit people can see the value added. Also, the technology itself is quite fascinating! And there are many, many more devices that allow you to track all your vitals:

Top 10 Healthcare Wearables For A Healthy Lifestyle - The Medical Futurist

"I started measuring details of my life in 1997 and have been doing so without missing a day for the past 7000 days..."

via medicalfuturist.com

Besides healthcare applications, wearables are seeping into the future of payment with Apple Play on the Apple Watch, or Android Wear etc. Wearable payments are expected to reach $100bn by 2018!

2. Smart homes

The Internet of Things is also about all smart home appliances from smart thermostats such as Hive, intelligent fridges to other connected sockets.

One product that produced a lot of hype this year is the Amazon Echo. It’s basically a wireless speaker, so you can stream music, radio etc. to it, letting you control your music without picking up your phone or walking over to your laptop, you can ask for the weather by saying “Alexa, what’s the weather?” or get other information, a bit like Siri.

Amazon Echo review

"The Amazon Echo speaker is just over a year old now and it’s fair to say it’s been a bit of a hit for the online retail..."

via www.wareable.com

You can also install “skills” developed by third parties (the equivalent of smartphone apps). With the Uber skill, for example, can order you a car, or Just Eat can request a takeaway. But a big focus with skills is the smart home. If you have a smart thermostat such as Hive, Philips Hue lights or anything using Samsung’s SmartThings, you can download a skill and then, use Amazon Echo as the one bot to control them all! The Echo then becomes the omniscient hub for your smart home: with a sentence you can turn off your lights or warm up your house.

3. The Internet of Things hacking

But undoubtedly, the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against Dyn was the most surprising Internet of Things event of the year. The culprit were poorly designed and constructed devices that allowed a major interruption of infrastructure and therefore of other internet-based services. To put it simply: hackers exploited major security flaws in these devices (people tend to set very weak passwords for their smart home devices and platforms, so they end up being easy to crack by hackers) to force thousands of devices to connect on Dyn’s servers, leading to the DDOS.

Cyber attack: hackers 'weaponised' everyday devices with malware

"The huge attack on global internet access, which blocked some of the world's most popular websites, is believed to have.."

via www.theguardian.com

According to Scott Nelson, there are “3 key lessons for manufacturers from this event: (1) security is hard to retrofit, (2) security is not just IT’s problem, and (3) security is about device behavior as well as data.”

Hacked by your fridge: the Internet of Things could spark a new wave of cyber attacks

"The past few weeks have seen a remarkable and somewhat alarming development in cyber security. It comes in the wake of..."

via theconversation.com

To conclude, we’ll leave you with this sequence from Back to the Future, where wearable technology was quite accurately predicted! 5-second pizza hydrators, voice controlled fruit baskets, TV glasses visors and... well, essentially: Skype on a smart TV!

Raphaelle Roffo is Communications Manager and general “swiss knife” at Grakn Labs. Advocate of open data, transparency and open government initiatives for social development. Previous experience with NGOs and international organizations. Passionate about urban issues with an masters in urban governance at SciencePo. In her spare time, she loves cycling, dancing and trying to convince her flatmates that they need a pet bunny.

GRAKN.AI is an open source distributed knowledge graph platform to power the next generation of intelligent applications. Using the power of machine reasoning, we provided a platform to help manage and make sense of highly interconnected big data. Grakn performs machine reasoning through Graql, a graph query language capable of reasoning and graph analytics.

Original. Reposted with permission.