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IoT & Cloud: Are they one of the same?

Internet of Things (IoT) became a new word in my RFID vocabulary when I read the white paper "A Naming Scheme for Physical Objects" by David L. Brock, published in January 1, 2001.

I read the article around 2004 when the RFID bandwagon passed us by. The buzz from many stakeholders turned into a consortium to look into what was in store for anyone and everyone if RFID technology was deployed within the businesses. There was not much solid supply chain scenarios that one could speak of then. With the consortium, we spoke of cross-border issues and how RFID can play a role in efficiency, security and on-target collaborations among authorities.

A RFID Consortium

Today (October 9, 2011), do we have a comprehensive and commonly shared understanding of IoT? A Google search on 'Internet of Things' returns approximately 79.8 million results. The 8th result is an BBC article titled "Internet of things blurs the line between bits and atoms" published on June 2, 2011 (as noted in the web page). It states, "...the possibility of interconnecting of people and objects - lightbulbs, fridges, cars, buildings - to create an internet of things." The phrases here are 'interconnect' in the connected world, and people and objects together are of interests. We are not just noting John the person owns what and has what in his refrigerator, but also this set of refrigerators are now where. Better yet, the refrigerators A, manufactured at 12:34 pm EST in the GE plant at Tennessee, and the refrigerator B, of the same set, manufactured at 5:23 am CST in the GE plant in Ogden, Utah, were consolidated with other 8 refrigerators that look exactly the same to the human eyes in the warehouse in Pheonix, Arizona and shipped as a set to Sears in Las Vegas. The refrigerator A was John's and the time that it was first plugged in was noted in GE's CRM system. Refrigerator B was at Mary nearby in Las Vegas's Summerlin south community.

One can see the information associated with an object could be enormous. Yes, the information is specific to that refrigerator A and no other object on earth simply because that object is tagged with an ID (e.g., an 128-bit EPC) that is singularly unique in the world.

The interconnecting of John to the refrigerator A could be by the use of his smartphone that could read the EPC off the refrigerator A. By all intent, the smartphone is John's and John is using the smartphone by the virtue that his personal phone number is tagged with the phone when it first starts up. The interconnect of objects is 'voluntarily' while the interconnect of objects to a person is by choice.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is simply where information about a thing is accessible via the Internet. There are a number of pre-conditions before any 'thing' can become an IoT:

  • It must 'own' an identity that is unique: I call this SUI as Single Unique Identity. EPC could be one such SUI if EPC is globally accepted and under the management of one entity.
  • The SUI must be 'contained' in some electronic chip for automatic extraction. Of course, the SUI as EPC is coded in the RFID tag's IC chip.
  • The SUI must be 'readable' by sensors - or information about this thing is collected within the sensor network.
  • The information collected must be reposited in some storage accessible via the Internet.

Yes, it is not simple, but yet automatic if the infrastructure is in place. What does it mean if the SUI information is stored in the Cloud? Before you go on, this is also interesting to get a feel of the possible impact offered by Dave Evans, dated July15, 2011 - note the number of IP addresses for IPv6!!

read on...