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Imagine a world where your coffee machine makes coffee the moment you get out of bed. On the way to the kitchen, the room temperature adjusted to your preferences and coffee done just the way you like. It seems very distant? It can be very close to now, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT).

What is it?

Basically, Internet of Things is the concept to connect all devices to a network, which causes them to be connected to each other. The list of devices includes everything that can be connected to the Internet, even though, at present, they don’t have this feature yet. Today, a coffee machine most likely won’t connect to Wi-Fi. With the Internet of Things, it would be integrated with other objects in the house and could communicate with each of them.

 

The list includes cell phones, virtual assistants and the electrical system of a house, but also the less obvious items like beds, washing machines and even traffic lights. How would this relationship work? A cloud database would receive information collected by all devices and allow constant communication among them. This way, your virtual assistant would report that it’s time to buy more coffee and you could ask to put the item in the grocery list.

 

Kevin Ashton, responsible for creating the Internet of Things expression, thought the information collected would be used to reduce waste and losses as well as the cost of things.

Uses of IoT

Many of the possibilities of the Internet of Things are still uncertain. Thinking about a coffee machine that makes coffee as soon as you get up of bed seems such a distant reality. Imagining a smart city that exists in a sustainable way due to data collected in real time seems even more distant. Cellphones, computers, traffic lights and even the weather forecast would be connected and, therefore, could optimize energy use, manage the flow of people in town and define beneficial public policies according to the city’s planning.

 

While smart cities seem a utopia for now, on the other hand there are already tangible applications that are being used around the world. With the Internet of Things, hospitals can identify when a bed is empty, reducing the waiting time in the emergency room. The rooms machines are also monitored, as well as its functioning. This way, they can pinpoint any small flaw that could lead to a more serious problem in devices, before it actually occurs.

A Brazilian IoT

This existing scenario in some parts of the world may be coming to Brazil in the next years. Based on a study on IoT conducted over ten months, the Brazilian government has produced a plan called “Internet of Things: An Action Plan for Brazil “. The aim is to give Brazil a prominent position in the segment while promoting sustainable development of the country. The final version of the plan consists of goals and strategies for the deployment of technologies required, which must be done between 2018 and 2022.

 

The study defined four priority areas to receive the first activities: Health, Cities, Agriculture and Industry. The plan will include Brazilian businesses, government, universities and research centers, that should work together to kick start the Internet of Things in Brazil.

 

Despite the optimism, the project will find major obstacles to be put into action: in addition to the budget cuts that happened, the government of Michel Temer will end in 2018 and much of the plan’s implementation will happen on the next administration.

Obstacles

The Internet of Things has other obstacles, and this time not only in Brazil. Security is one of the most critical points of the concept: the greater the number of devices connected, the greater is the space for hackers to explore. If someone hack your coffee machine, it’s possible that this person has access to data in your network. What to do to keep the information really safe? The answer is still a challenge, but it’s possible that the blockchain technology has a relevant role for that in the future.

 

Another concern comes from security: the use of data. With virtually all domestic and personal appliances connected, the number of collected information is huge and no company knows exactly how to store, monitor and analyze the generated data in its entirety. The constant monitoring is a little scary, especially when you think that these technologies are still in initial stage and will develop much more in the next decade. The Internet of Things will bring a world of opportunities and connections among things and people many them even imaginable today, what makes it so difficult to predict this technology’s future.

 

See also: What is Tesla?

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