The "internet of things" is arguably one of the most exciting trends today. The idea that household appliances, temperature controls, lighting, vehicles, and all types of wearables could be controlled by your phone or tablet is very exciting. But, there is a problem; the internet of things is has hit a roadblock, according to Brian Proffitt (in Read Write Web).
He points out that the internet is simply "...a network that connects any given device to any other given device. That connection alone, however, doesn't mean that these gadgets will know how to talk to one another, much less that they'll have anything to say." Web protocols, such as HTTP, SMTP, FTP, POP, and IMAP, work well for things like email, the web, file transfers, etc because there isn't anything too complicated that needs to be communicated. This is not necessarily the case for devices that have considerably more to say.
Things now communicate primarily with centralized servers controlled by a related developer or vendor. That works, after a fashion, but it also leads to a bunch of balkanized subnetworks in which devices can communicate perfectly well with each other - but can't actually talk to devices on any other balkanized subnetwork.
Take cars. A Ford Focus, say, can communicate perfectly well with Ford service or data centers when sending data about itself over the Internet. If a part needs replacing, the car's systems can report back to home base, which in turn generates a service notification to the car's owner.
But say you wanted to create real-time traffic alerts based on information from cars currently on the road. Now you've got trouble, because your Ford is probably only set up to talk to other Fords - not Hondas or Porsches or Teslas. This is because they don't speak a common language. So, for instance, there's no easy way to let vehicles daisy-chain warnings that there's road construction ahead or that an idiot driver is roaring up the shoulder at 90 mph.
Proffitt notes that some of these issues can be solved with greater adoption of communication standards like Bluetooth or NFC. Nevertheless, even if all the devices used the same internet protocol, the problem would still exist.
To consider this a little more closely, consider a "smart" living room featuring three devices connected to the Internet: a Nest thermostat, a Spark-enabled light and Makita automated drapes. Each device gathers data and sends it back to its manufacturer, and can take a handful of limited actions. If the room gets too warm, the Nest will turn on the air conditioning. If it's dark outside, the Makita controller will close the drapes. If someone's in the room and it's dark enough, the Spark could turn on the light.
See what's not happening? The Nest isn't talking to the Spark, which isn't talking to the Makita, which isn't talking to the Nest. At best, you might be able to get a hub-style home-control system that could manage each of these devices. But such controllers often suck the same way universal remotes for your home TV setup do.
Ending with a difficult question, Proffitt asks whether it's better to have connected silos or an internet of islands. There are positives and negatives to both, but the internet of islands would likely lead to a much more flexible and robust internet of things.
Check out the full article in the source below.