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History of IoT: The Future of Remote Connectivity Has Come

New devices and technologies are introduced to consumers and businesses every year. The most innovative of them make an impact on our daily lives, sometimes even causing brands and large enterprises to change the way they manage their workflow. One such emerging and popular technology is the Internet of Things (IoT). Some of the evolving IoT devices have already shown the true potential and power of IoT to win wider markets and attract broader audiences in the near future. Just imagine, IoT fleet management market (i.e. vehicle tracking & monitoring, fleet analytics, fuel management, predictive maintenance, remote diagnostics, etc.) is expected to be worth nearly $17 billion by 2025!

So, what is IoT all about? What makes it similar to M2M? How does one technology differ from the other? What’s the future of IoT? How can businesses benefit from it? Let’s take a look.


What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to billions of physical devices all around the world that are connected to the Internet while collecting and sharing pieces of data. Thanks to the evolvement of this technology, now it’s possible to connect everything from a regular phone to your entire house and turn them into smart devices. IoT adds digital intelligence to devices, making them communicate and exchange data without a human being involved. Simply put, IoT will be present in every aspect of our lives where we can have Internet connectivity.

Need examples? Some of the most common IoT devices are wearables, GPS trackers, agriculture and weather telemetry that use sensors to collect data.


What is the History of IoT?

The idea of connected devices has been around since the 70s, back then “internet of things” was called “pervasive computing” or “embedded internet”.

The actual term “internet of things” is 19 years old already. Initially, it was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999. Mr. Ashton worked in the supply chain optimization at Procter&Gamble. With the intention to draw the management’s attention to a new RFID technology and taking into account that internet was the hottest new trend in 1999, Ashton called his presentation “Internet of Things”. And even though the term and the idea of adoption of low-power chips that can communicate wirelessly sounded appealing to the P&G executives, the Internet of Things only attained the anticipated popularity  10 years later.

Fast forward to summer 2010, the concept of the Internet of Things started to gain wider recognition when leaked data from Google StreetView service started the debate if the world’s leading search engine was not only making 360-degree pictures of streets and houses but was also storing tons of users’ WiFi networks. This caused the public concern that Google was launching a new strategy to index both physical and internet worlds.

The same year, in June 2010, the Chinese government made an official announcement about using the Internet of Things as their major strategic priority for the 12th Five-Year-Plan. The new strategy suggested:

  • development of key points of next-generation IT industry, including new generations of mobile telecommunications and the Internet; integration of telecommunications frameworks; cloud; high-end servers and information services, etc.
  • development of key technologies and demonstrations (pilot projects and demonstration projects) with IoT;
  • integration of telecommunications networks, the radio and television broadcasting networks and the Internet, and more.

In 2012, Europe’s biggest Internet conference LeWeb chose the Internet of Things as theirtheme. At the same time, the world-known technical magazines like Forbes and Wired started to use IoT in their active vocabulary to describe the phenomenon.

The next major step in the global adoption of the IoT technologies was in 2014. It was the time when Google announced about their agreement to buy Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. The deal let Google gain a firm footing in the growing market for web-connected household appliances.

The same year - in 2015 - the world’s biggest Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Los Angeles used IoT as their major theme.

As IoT technology started to evolve, it gained the biggest demand among businesses and manufacturers, where its application is also known as machine-to-machine (M2M). Now, the biggest demand has shifted to applications for home and offices, making it ubiquitous and available to anyone looking to take advantage of instant and continuous internet connectivity.


What’s M2M

IoT and M2M are often confused and much has been written trying to clear up the misconception of the two. IoT and M2M both refer to achieving remote device connectivity.

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M2M sets the foundations of IoT. M2M is a business solution that connects devices to a cloud so that businesses can monitor their machines and pieces of equipment remotely. The roots of M2M originate from the manufacturing industry, where such technologies as remote monitoring helped enterprises manage data from equipment remotely.

It’s generally considered that it was Theodore Paraskevakos who was the first man to invent and patent the technology of the data transmission over telephone lines when he was developing caller ID.

Nokia was the first company that used M2M in their lines in the 1990s. A decade later in 2002, the company partnered with Opto 22 to offer wireless communication services to their consumers.

With the launch of M2M Magazine (Connected Word) in 2003, the world was introduced to the pillars of M2M technology, which are:

  • Remote monitoring - This has been around in one form or another for a long time already. In the 1950s, industrial equipment lacked the microchip capabilities that are common today. Back then controls were comprised of simple on/off switches with interval programming. Later on, microprocessors came on the scene featuring flashing lights for sending warning statuses. Railroads are among the most popular examples of the early adopters of remote monitoring. They used wired pressure switches at intervals along the track to record the presence of pairing equipment. The monitoring board showed the location of trains along with statuses of switches by varied colored lights.
  • RFID (radio frequency identification) - This concept suggests that radio waves emitted by a transponder (a combination of transmitter and receiver) are reflected (if passive) or multiplied and reflected (if active) by a tag or chip, which provides the receiver with a unique code of identification. For example, during the Cold War submarines needed technologies to distinguish between whales and warships. Various sensors were deployed to determine if those large masses moving in the water are whales or warships. One of such largest networks was SOSUS. The Sound Surveillance System provided deep-water and long-range detection capabilities that were used for tracking submarines by their faint acoustic signals. It was used to control and detect undersea threats in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean by means of long acoustic sensors installed across the ocean bottom at key locations.
  • Sensors - A sensor is a device that detects and responds to some type of input (light, heat, pressures, etc.) from the physical environment and transmits that information by some sort of output. An output is a signal that’s converted to human-readable display for reading or further processing. For example, home security lights and automatic doors use motion sensors, which detect when the flow of energy is interrupted by something entering its path.
  • Telematics -  the convergence of telecommunications and information processing. It describes the integrated use of communications and information technologies to transmit, store, and receive information from telecommunications devices to remote objects over a network.

From the 1930s to the 1980s, the technical history of M2M evolved in close relationship with military and industrial needs. As the technologies started to expand, M2M made a huge step forward by combining technologies into more complex applications. All this taken together made up the foundation for the communications and control capabilities of what we have today with M2M.

As of today, several of the most popular M2M use cases include:

  • Traffic control systems, where sensors are used to check such variables as speed and volume of traffic.
  • Telemetry,  where automatic measurements and wireless transmission of data from remote sources. Telemetry uses sensors to measure electrical or physical data at the source; next, these measurements are converted to specific electrical voltages; a multiplexer combines the voltages into a single data stream.
  • Telemedicine, where heart patients are put on special monitors to control the working conditions of their hearts.
  • Maryland-based Minibar System uses M2M technology to track and restock hotel minibars which cuts labor time significantly.

Wireless M2M is an integral part of enterprise IoT.  M2M is a business-driven technology that uses cellular networks to enable remote monitoring and management of machines, devices, and pieces of equipment.


What’s IoT

Unlike M2M technology that’s used to connect machines, IoT is a mass market solution that refers to both consumers and enterprises.

  • Consumer IoT serves to connect people and their things to the Internet. It transforms the way people interact with businesses. It changes the way we communicate, use our household appliances and fitness trackers, do asset tracking (to know the location of things or even creatures), give voice commands, use virtual reality, etc.

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  • Enterprise IoT is used to connect businesses to their assets and customers, this is where M2M comes in.

In the beginning, IoT was of the biggest interest to the manufacturing industry, where its application is better known as M2M. Today, the emphasis has shifted to transforming Internet of Things into something that’s relevant to every person and every home.

We often apply the term IoT to those objects that wouldn’t be expected to have an Internet connection and those that can communicate with the network independently of human action. That’s why a smartphone and a laptop aren’t considered as IoT devices. However, a fitness band and a smartwatch can be counted as two of the most popular examples of the modern-day IoT devices.


IoT vs M2

The major difference between IoT and M2M technologies lies in the way they achieve remote device access.

  • The roots of M2M originate from the manufacturing industry. It is used to connect devices to a cloud, which lets businesses monitor machines and pieces of equipment remotely. M2M set the foundations of IoT.
  • IoT refers to physical devices that are connected to the Internet while collecting and sharing different pieces of data. IoT lets devices communicate and exchange data without a human being involved.  People can use IoT in all aspects of their lives.


IoT: The Future of Remote Connectivity Has Come

IoT continues to evolve and we expect to see many more IoT products for consumers and businesses alike. Products like the API SIM card from Keepgo allow entrepreneurs and developers a platform to develop and launch new IoT products.  Instant connectivity in 150+ countries worldwide, one management system with one API integration, and different rates in different countries all in a single SIM card can support the whole industry of IoT products and services

IoT is yet to reach its full potential. Get involved now before it’s too late!