Welcome to Internet of Things Journal

Welcome to Internet of Things Journal, or IoT Journal for short. Our mission is to help companies better understand how to create or increase business value by linking their products, assets and environments to the Internet, as well as to other devices, machines or assets. This website will cover the many types of technologies and standards that businesses can use to do so, including ZigBee, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, radio frequency identification (RFID) and new technologies that will emerge in the coming years. We hope to become your go-to source for navigating the expanding, evolving universe of business applications for Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

The Internet of Things has its roots in the RFID technology that would eventually become the foundation for the passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags commonly used today. During a 1999 pitch session to convince his employer, Procter & Gamble (where he worked as a brand manager) to consider using RFID to manage its supply chain, Kevin Ashton introduced the phrase “Internet of Things.” Ashton, who also became the executive director of the Auto-ID Center while working for P&G, did so as a way of describing the value of having computers and sensor-powered objects transacting information without human involvement (see Kevin Ashton May Change the World and Recognizing Kevin Ashton’s Contributions to RFID Journal).

Between then and now, myriad incremental improvements in wireless technology, drastically reduced sensor costs, increasingly powerful and compact microprocessors, the ubiquity of networked mobile devices, and what sometimes seems like limitless applications for machine-to-machine communications—particularly in the consumer goods sector—have fostered considerable buzz around the Internet of Things.

Research firms see high times ahead. Gartner expects the IoT will generate economic value of nearly $2 trillion by 2020. Frost & Sullivan predicts 80 billion individual devices will be networked globally by then. Sometimes, this considerable buzz around the IoT creeps into the realm of hype. Yet, an RFID Journal reader survey conducted early this year did not turn up much dubiousness (see What Is the Internet of Things?). Only 10 percent of the 168 respondents pegged the IoT as meaningless buzz, while a third called it “an important trend that our company takes very seriously.”

The Internet of Things is already uncovering substantial value for businesses. Networks of digital eyes and ears throughout manufacturing facilities help companies respond to mechanical failures before they can occur. In the building sector, which accounts for 40 percent of U.S. electricity consumption, IoT technology is already enabling significant efficiency gains through sensor-controlled lighting and HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems. Cities are plugging into the IoT to improve everything from public safety to traffic flow. Autonomous vehicles cannot even shift out of park without accessing robust sensor networks. In the retail and air travel realm, beacon technology is emerging as a powerful tool for connecting with consumers and fostering loyalty.

All of which is to say that as the editor of Internet of Things Journal, I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Our stories are written for existing and potential end users of IoT technology, who are interested in deploying the technology within their corporation or incorporating it into products or services they sell to other businesses or to consumers.

There will be potholes in the road—or, rather, the cloud. Standards development, a process that is always achingly slow in any industry, is a high priority for the IoT. Today, sensors communicate via a jumble of protocols that is keeping potential users across sectors playing wait-and-see. Robust, field-tested data security measures are necessary to ensure important business data related to assets or products is shared safely across the enterprise and into the consumer realm. (Of course, providing data security also represents a huge business opportunity in the IoT.) Many other issues lurk as well, from navigating technology obsolescence in this quickly evolving world of sensors, to managing data collection, to right-sizing deployments to avoid overkill. Not every single thing in your business, after all, actually needs to be part of the Internet.

My hope is that by reporting on the dynamic, growing universe of IoT applications, we can help you realize all of the promise these technologies offer, while avoiding their pitfalls.

I hope you’ll find our coverage informative, comprehensive and hype-free—and I hope you’ll tell me if I fail to meet those high marks. You can reach me via e-mail at mc@iotjournal.com, and on Twitter at @IoTjrnl.

Mary Catherine O’Connor is the editor of Internet of Things Journal and a former staff reporter for RFID Journal. She also writes about technology, as it relates to business and the environment, for a range of consumer magazines and newspapers.