A broad term, often used in the field of business, the Internet of Things (IoT) can also be the subject of certain fantasies. Nothing too futuristic there; truth be told, we’ve been living in an Internet of Things society for several years now. Admittedly, IoT hasn’t exploded as much as expected, but growth forecasts are still optimistic. Welcome to the world of everything connected.
Billions of connections
The simplest definition to give this term Internet of Things is as follows: it defines the networking, via the Internet, of physical objects which, as a result, collect and share data.
The word “object” can lead to confusion, as the general public would tend to associate with it only what are called related objects, with a vision of everyday objects such as attached wristbands, smart watches, smart lights, etc. We could prefer the term, the most widespread in the world, ofThe Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Things.
“Things” can be a person, a building or an object, which will find itself connected to a wide network via the Internet. Projecting this notion of IoT onto the everyday connected objects we know is not a mistake in itself. It is primarily in this segment that the IoT consumer is deployed, moreover. But it takes off and finds a very important use in professional branches, such as factories or hospitals.
244 000 000
Number of connected facilities in France
Source: Ademi and Arcep
In its 2021 report on the world’s digital economy, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Cnuced) distinguished the Internet of Things among 11 disruptive technologies, that is, technologies that replace another in the market, making the previous one obsolete. These disruptive technologies currently include artificial intelligence, 5G, blockchain or drone.
The concept of the Internet of Things has been around for a long time now, but it really took off about ten years ago. Significant work was done on this topic at the time, predicting an explosion in the use of connected objects in the world. For example, a 2015 study by Federal Institute of Technology Zurich predicted the presence in the world of 150 billion objects that can be connected to each other by 2025. Others predicted 500 billion.
However, the reality is much more nuanced. It is very difficult to determine exactly the number of interconnected objects in the world. According to sources, it is possible to create a wide range – between 12.2 and 78 billion connected objects – currently. The Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe) and the Electronic Communications Regulatory Authority (Arcep) estimate their number at 1.8 billion in Europe, including 244 million for France, according to a report published in 2022 and commissioned by “The State”. It is still not the expected explosion, but, with new protocols and technological developments, growth forecasts remain very optimistic, despite its decline due to the lack of components.
The Internet of Things in everyday life
In order to fully understand what we are talking about when we talk about the term Internet of Things, it is necessary to go into more detail in concrete cases.
As we said, IoT is a galaxy of connected objects, making it possible to collect and exchange large amounts of data. The Internet of Things surrounds us every day. More obvious, yes, it’s good the use we make at home. Setting up the heating remotely or scheduling it to come on at a certain time is one of the uses of the Internet of Things. The Linky meter is also part of this, as it collects electricity consumption data and shares it with both consumers and regulators.
In sports, the Internet of Things has taken a prominent place. More professional sports have seen the presence of various and varied sensors multiply. GPS chips in the jersey to see the player’s movement data, power sensor to measure the force received during a hit, etc. Formula 1 cars, for example, can no longer operate without the connected objects battery built into the vehicle.
However, it is the industry that benefits the most from the Internet of Things. We are also talking about IIoT, for Industrial Internet of Things. The term Industry 4.0, however, seems to be stealing the show since it first appeared on the lips of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2011.
IoT in industry enables an astronomical amount of new practices and has greatly improved work and precision in factories. Machines can self-monitor and prevent problems. Inventory can be managed using sensors: if an item is about to run out, the system can automatically order new parts. Its presence can also be observed in the health sector, with equipment capable of monitoring patients remotely.
If Renault and Google can design a digital twin of our cars in the near future is thanks to the Industrial Internet of Things. Therefore, the system will be able to analyze the behavior of the twins, predict what they can do and provide an upstream solution to the problem. This process is possible thanks to dozens of smart sensors installed in our cars and collecting thousands of data.
Strong restrictions on use by individuals
One of the main restraints of IoT in the world is probably the plethora of distinct protocols governing interconnections. We can compare protocols, these lists of rules that allow efficient communication between objects on a network, to languages. As in the world, connected objects do not all speak the same language. Then it can be difficult, in certain cases, for the objects one wants to connect to understand each other. However, the alliance of dozens of major global companies offers hope. Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung or Nanoleaf are starting to appear the new Matter protocolit is supposed to make linked objects more easily interoperable.
The case of data processing is subject to discussion. of Washington Post published a lengthy investigation last October, noting that Amazon’s connected facilities were able to collect giant bundles of data. In theory, the big companies present in the connected objects market have the capacity to know everything about us. The very concept of privacy is threatened by these new facilities and has also led us right ask us about surveillance within your family.
Security is taken seriously by governments: many laws are working to strengthen it to prevent the risk of hacking. The European Union has recently started work on it Cyber Resilience Actwhich should oblige manufacturers to guarantee sufficient security in their facilities.
Finally, the growth of the Internet of Things in the world undoubtedly raises environmental and energy issues. Report The world of the Internet of Things: dynamics to master published this year and commissioned by the French government, indeed raises this acute question. “To what extent are the environmental benefits of[Internet des objets] will they be able to offset or even exceed the costs associated with the production of the facilities, their energy consumption and the treatment of the waste they will cause? »
It’s a vicious circle. The Internet of Things is becoming more democratic, the demand for connected objects is increasing, billions of these objects are produced and put on the market, older objects are discarded and replaced with new ones, etc. Therefore, the authorities and leading companies of this world, if they want to see the continuous growth and improvement of the Internet of Things, will be brought to balance their proposals.