Those of you who aren’t quite familiar with the history of the Internet would be surprised to know that it has been around since the sixties and not the nineties as most people believe. However, its use was confined to heads of states, scientists and top military personnel as means of sharing vital information and taking action.
However, as we all know, the Internet was born in the early nineties when we first witnessed the creation of the world’s first website along with the arrival of dial-up Internet Service Providers to complete the picture. Those of you who have been with the Internet since its childhood days would remember the unmistakable sound of the dial-up modem that connected people to the Internet, yet lamenting the poor speed delivered through the 1 Mbps modem.
The scenario, however, changed during the late nineties when the network speed increased (as did the connection to the Internet) with the advent of DSL and the cable modem. This was followed by services that included iTunes, YouTube and Netflix that revolutionized the way people accessed music and video content, as well as social network sites such as Myspace and ‘the’ Facebook that provided novel ways to connect with friends and colleagues. To be honest about it, in a social set up, people literally became glued to their computers.
However, yet another breakthrough awaited all when the mobile phone metamorphosed into a smartphone, changing the scenario all over again. Miraculously, the Internet became mobile. The fast, reliable connectivity had become so pervasive as to turn the Internet as an inextricable part of daily lives of people all over the world. Today you can not only store innumerable number of photos, music and videos in ‘the cloud’ but can access info on any type of device, anywhere, any time. From education to entertainment; healthcare to shopping, digital connectivity has become the bond that holds together every aspect of a person’s life.
If, however, you analyze events, you are sure to observe that the Internet has transitioned through several stages – email, websites, entertainment and then mobile apps. But what awaits us next? There will be hyperconnection though the Internet, while this hyperconnecetd society is going to transform every aspect of our life. Take for instance, the healthcare issue. Instead of grappling with exhaustive medical records, specialists, pharmacy and the terms and conditions laid down by the insurance company, envision a scenario where all of them will seamlessly function from your electronic health record, while the authentication as to who you will be processed through your smartphone.
As for the immediate future of Internet, it would not be merely a matter of people being connected to the Internet, but innumerable chips, implants, sensors and devices would also be connected at the same time – a technology known as the Internet of Things or just IoT. In its fully developed state, the IoT will allow objects to be sensed and/or controlled across existing network infrastructure remotely, giving rise to better efficiency, accuracy as well as economic benefit sans human intervention. Augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology will become an instance of the more general class of ‘cyber-physical system, encompassing technologies that include smart grids, virtual power plants, smart homes, smart cars and finally smart cities.
Incidentally, the term ‘The Internet of Things’ was coined by Kevin Ashton of Procter & Gamble, later MIT’s Auto-ID Center in 1999.