The Internet of Everything: the Next Step
The term “Internet of Everything” describes a more complex, interactive digital world that encompasses not only the machine to machine connections of the Internet of Things, but also a communications between machines and people (M2P) and between people (P2P) with the assistance of technology. By incorporating people and processes into the world of constant connectivity, the Internet of Things takes on a broader scope with more potential for enhancing interactions of all kinds.
Beyond M2M The interface between humans and smart technology in the Internet of Everything adds more functionality to existing interactions made possible by the Internet of Things.
M2P (Machine to People) For example, the Internet of Things makes it possible to remotely program a thermostat or air conditioner so that the house is comfortable when you arrive home. But with the enhanced connectivity of the Internet of Everything, it may be possible to set a sequence in which a sensor in a car recognizes that the owner is headed home and sends a signal to those units to turn on at precisely the right time and at the right temperature, all arising from an initial programming step generated by the human owner.
P2P (People to People) When people and processes – or sequences of events that have outcomes dictated by information and decisions arising from each individual step in the process – are added to the mix of M2M communication in the Internet of Things, networking can become more efficient and broader in scope. In this new world, connectivity is enhanced by responsiveness: things don’t just exchange information, they do things with the information they receive, and they interact with people to extend their functions even more.
The kind of networking made possible by the Internet of Everything can be seen in applications such as health care. A person with diabetes might have a subcutaneous sensor placed in a thigh or arm, and this sensor collects data constantly about blood sugar levels and other vital signs, sending the information to a unit that stores all the information.
The device’s owner puts it into a dock that sends the data to his healthcare providers, who review the numbers and contact him with advice to make changes in diet or other aspects of his health. In this way, the “things” that are in communication make it possible for the two humans in the mix to interact more effectively. And because the relevant data is uploaded to the cloud, it can be accessed at any time, by anyone involved with the diabetic person’s health care, such as an emergency room doctor.
In complex systems with a large number of interconnected “things,” too, the addition of people to previously machine-centric systems can make it possible to construct broader networks that support multiple connections at the same time. The interactions between people and technology may also change within these networks. Like the diabetic individual in the previous example, people may be able to transmit information of all kinds passively through sensors on the skin, or use ever-smaller devices to send and receive data across all kinds of devices.
As the Internet of Things evolves into the Internet of Everything, businesses will need to develop new processes that incorporate all the elements – M2M, M2P and P2P in a meaningful way that enhances their brand and business model. And cloud technology provides the framework that makes it all possible.