Bluetooth and IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) implies connectivity, and developers have lots of wired and wireless options at their disposal to make it happen. Certainly the Internet is the main one but there are also other systems, for example Mash networking and Bluetooth.
December 7 was made available the latest Bluetooth technology with the name “Bluetooth 5”. This new version has been developed to support the increasing development of IoT, and to support multiple linked objects and interacting each other. The main new features are highlighted in greater distance connection, speed and, of course the ability to connect multiple devices simultaneously. Specifically, the signal has quadrupled the distance for connection, doubled the speed and is eight times the capacity of transmitting the message compared the previous version. This will surely give more stability to the IoT communication also because the new technology reduces interference with other devices.

October 2016 DDoS attack and IoT challenges for 4 top industries in 2017

In October 2016 some of most heavily trafficked web site in US and Europe (e.g. Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit and CNN) had more than one problem to guarantee the continuity of their online services. This because they experienced the worst DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack in their history. In specific, a network of computers infected, with special malware known as a “botnet”, were coordinated into attacking a server with traffic until it collapses under the strain.

This situation was made possible by two main factors:

  1. DNS infrastructure vulnerability;
  2. Many cheap and not secured IoT devices connected (in particular cameras and DVR players), which made the life easier for cybercriminals.

After that attack, backbone providers have increased their security level but nothing has been done for the security of IoT devices.

Considering the area with more developments and investment in IoT and also considering the consumers’ demand and expectation, there are four sectors with high risk of security:

  1. Healthcare. The 2017 will be a year with more investment in IoT (more devices and digital applications) because IoT represents a solution for many different healthcare problems (e.g. patients with blood pressure can be monitored from home and also other preventive and diagnostics are possible). The risk is that attacks could disrupt the service and those could also steal personal IDs and data.
  2. Financial. This sector will face difficult time due to different situations. From one side, they have the challenge of Bitcoins and Artificial Intelligence and, on the other side, consumers’ devices and Apps could represent a threat.
  3. Retails. For 2017, the B2C revenue generated by apps and IoT (see recent Amazon developments) have a positive forecast but this will generate additional challenges to protect this business and sensitive consumer’s data.
  4. Communication and Media. Companies operating in this sector have the double necessity: strengthen their service security and still guarantee an easy access across multiple channels.

The evolution of the ‘Internet of Things’: Internet of Nano Things(IONT)

iontAs soon as it is believed that a new frontier is approaching another one shows up at the horizon. In this case I’m talking about the “Internet of Nano Things”. This is a connection system based on a series of very small components capable of circular even in our body or be mixed in the materials used for the construction of buildings and things and that are connected together to exchange information.

IONT uses nano devices (comparable to one hundred nanometers), which, taken individually, are able to provide enough functionality and perform simple tasks but, if supported by IOT, may perform more complex tasks.

This new technology can be used in so different contexts. For example, in the medical field, going to integrate the body area network and allow a more accurate communication of body values as shown in the image below.

body_area_network

They can also be integrated into other components in order to have very accurate maps and rich in detail as changing light, magnetic fields, chemical concentrations in the air, electrical current etc.

Is currently being studied, the method of communication between these nano devices. There are two hypotheses on the subject:

  1. Molecular communication. The information (message) would be encoded and enclosed in a molecule and then be received and decoded by another molecule.
  2. Electromagnetic communication. The message is sent using electromagnetic radiation released by components present in nano-materials.

Unfortunately, there are not many details available about these methods of transmission and must remit the full explanation for the near future.

Although this may seem fascinating and definitely can help to improve the conditions of human life, we must also reflect on the dangers they pose to the protection of privacy and personal safety. In fact, as I nano devices are so small that they can deliberately or inadvertently be easily inhaled or introduced in the body, they may cause reactions of our immune system or be toxic. In addition, these devices can be integrated into materials for the construction of houses and other objects, even without our knowledge, and could capture and release personal information.

Internet of Things – Tipping Point and Opportunities

internet_of_things_overviewAs wrote in my previous article “Internet of Things – Risks”  (http://tinyurl.com/jp4hjg9), IoT will have a huge impact in our life and, besides risks, it has also benefit. IoT helps companies increase productivity, deploy new business models, reduce costs and support the development of new products and services.

Everyday more devices are getting connected to the Internet, for example: cars, thermostats, home appliances, medical equipments, vending machines, water meters and building security. All these devices, and many other under current developments, will transfer information between each other to facilitate our life (in theory).

IoT hardware infrastructure is based on cloud storage, data sensors, networks and this environment works with Apps and programs.

Let’s see some useful applications of this technology in daily life, considering for example two important locations: workplace and home.

In a smart factory, IoT improves the inventory management because the system manages independently the lack of supplies by sending an electronic purchase order to the supplier. Furthermore, it can determine quicker the level of production based on the sales at POS (Point of Sale). A smart device sends inputs to the drones for pickup and delivery of goods. In case of breakdown, the smart machine analyzes the issue and sends a request for maintenance (with an accurate report of problem) to the technician .

In a smart home, a central computer determines the actions for a “welcome home”  based on the settings. For example, it communicates with thermostat for the heating, switch on the oven or microwave with pre-made food in it and switch on the lights on the porch. It recognizes your car and opens the garage for you, raises the window blinds and deactivates the alarm system. The sensors installed in rooms notice the person presence and acts on the lighting. A facility panel can summarize, for instance, the consumption status of water, electricity, gas and it shows the level of security.

These progresses were possible due to different reasons, such as:  progress in computing, storage and analytics; increase of mobile devices usage and technology cost reduction.

I expect more usage of  IoT in coming years and it will be part of our daily life. This means that now the game to become leader in the sector is open. The market value was $655.8 billion in 2014 with a projection of $1.7 trillion in 2020 and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9% (souce IDC, http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS25658015).

More players will join this table, for example ones which build and sell appliances because now they have the opportunity to expand their business with IoT solutions.

Consumers will appreciate other benefit, for example improvement of energy efficiency, costs reduction (E.g. automation of work place), service improvement and management (e.g. healthcare system, transportation and purchase of goods and services).

I conclude saying that we are only at the beginning of this technology but IoT implementations are quite promising.

Internet Of Things – Risks

IoTIn 1982 a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University became the first device connected to the Internet. It was capable to provide the first information to users such as the inventory and the temperature of the new loaded drinks.

Since that day, technology made important discoveries and developments; for example today is possible to manage the house thermostat and heating an electric car on remote using an App.

Internet of Things (IoT) will be more present in our homes. Indeed, recent technology developments will lead to new innovations such as: contactless sensor systems for large areas, which track people’s movements and are capable to switch on and off lights in rooms or opening doors for us. Furthermore, Samsung announced the project for transparent touch screen to replace window glass, etc.

The aim of IoT is to increase our quality of life but at what cost? In brief, IoT is the network of physical smart objects (e.g. devices, buildings, vehicles), it captures data (human behaviors) and it takes actions based on settings, programmed by users. With the present speed of innovation, people will rely even more on IoT  for their daily needs. We are making less things by our self and we use someone else workforce or using products ready but why? After WWII, and for many decades, it was a common practice to self-build the house with help of friends and family but we lost this and today the majority of people prefer use a mortgage (in the worst-case scenario stay in debt for 35 years with high rate) and buy from a builder a “ready to go” product. I remember, my grandmother she used to cook everything by herself, making extraordinary food and cakes. My mother did the same but we lost something after this generation. Today it is common practice buying pre-made food because we are too busy with other stuff, we use housekeepers (for who can afford) because we are too busy with other stuff, we use baby sitters because we have important stuff to do, etc. Nowadays, we use technology because, in theory, it gives more free time but still I hear people saying they do not have enough time for themselves. We rely on technology because it cannot be wrong, indeed it executes our orders and it is reliable for delivery.

The interesting part of all these technology developments is that humans give up their expertise and rely on something else and with this delegation they lose the control of decisions and of the actions. Imagine what could happen if just the traffic lights of our city were faulty; would drivers still able to drive or it would generate a chaos? Major cities are implementing smart traffic lights capable to switch to green light or to red light based on the cars in line.

IoT includes the exchange of information between smart devices and for most of the times this happen without user knowledge. This information is digital data that create a security problem: who can access these info and for what purpose? Indeed, smart-buildings and smart-devices, even if they are intelligent objects, could still become vulnerable to sabotage. Today, hackers can steal personal information but what would happen if the house is completely automated and intelligent?