The Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Internet of Things (IoT)

Wikipedia describes ‘The Internet of Things (IoT)’ as a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. More simply, the IoT refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. Thanks to cheap processors and wireless networks, it’s possible to turn anything, from a pill to an aeroplane to a self-driving car into part of the IoT.

But, how does the 4IR and the IoT relate? What is the connection between the two?

Gillan Taddune, CEO of Banyan Water explained it best when he said: “IoT technology is the fourth industrial revolution. For the previous two and a half centuries, technological advancements like steam-powered manufacturing and nuclear and electrical energy production have relied on the massive consumption of water. With IoT advancements, we now have the ability to save water and other essential resources instead of haphazardly consuming them. As the global population continues to grow, as food demand increases, as infrastructure ages and as climate change worsens, IoT technology as a method of resource optimization and conservation may very well be the thing that saves us all.”

The difference between the third and fourth can be tricky to pinpoint. Think of the third generation as basic robotics. Machines were developed to weld precisely — the first robots went in in 1962 — and SCADA systems and other computers were used to control and monitor processes. In the fourth wave, we’re adding layers of efficiency and intelligence on top of what’s being done. In the fourth wave, a welding robot will be able to effectively tell you, or another robot, that it’s having problems and get fixed.

As the number of connected devices continues to rise, our living and working environments will become filled with smart products — assuming we are willing to accept the security and privacy trade-offs. Some will welcome the new era of smart things. Others will pine for the days when a chair was simply a chair.

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