Anywhere, Anytime


Dr. S.Sangheethaa, Principal & Associate Professor, Department of CSE, Vedavyasa Institute of Technology, Calicut , Kerala.

Once I happened to hear somebody saying that, if we see a poor little girl in a remote village of India, and if we give her Rs.10, out of sympathy, she will immediately run to the nearby shop, not to buy food, but to top-up her mobile. This will be the condition of trending India. When mobile phones were introduced once in India, people thought, it is meant only for upper-class people, for doing business. But now approximately every Indian owns at-least one mobile. This is about the growth of mobile phone/mobile communication. This technology is extended and people talked about communication at anytime, anywhere. It is also referred as ubiquitous computing. Wherever we go we wanted to be in touch with everyone. Mobile computing helped to achieve this. Now it is the time for Internet of Things.

According to Wikipedia Internet of Things ( or IoT in short) is a network of things. The things can be collectively all nouns. For example places, animals, humans and what not!!. It allows the things to communicate with each other without intervention of any other computer or machine. We can think of many applications where IoT is very useful. Automobile with sensors, field operation devices which are needed in fire and rescue operations are some of the areas to name a few. Mostly the devices will have sensors, and embedded computing abilities. The communication between the ‘things’ is very useful for planning and monitoring various situations. Some interesting applications would be a “smart home” where lights will turn on/off automatically. The refrigerator would order for vegetables, when it senses, that the box is empty. You can check whether the oven is off from your office. We can even think of a sensor attached with us, which alarms about our medications, blood pressure levels of ourselves, or our child who is at home or about our elderly parents.

When Internet was evolving and used by many, major problem that was faced is addressing. Internet used 4 bytes address for identifying uniquely all the computers in the world. The main reason for using 4 bytes was the assumption that “ not all users will come online simultaneously” . So Internet used 32bits for identifying the computers. When the assumption started proving wrong, the need for more bits in addressing raised. The evolution of Internet of Things proved that 4 bytes ( 32 bits) is not at all enough for meeting the rising number of devices online. Thus 6 bytes addressing - IPv6 (128 bits) has evolved. It is said that using IPv6 even the soil particles can be addressed. So we can think of the number of addresses it can provide us.  2128 is really a large pool of addresses.

There are many challenges to be addressed like privacy, security, design of the network, energy conservation, routing etc.

Even though applications of IoT help us to monitor, plan and execute situations in a better manner, there are problems too. Main disadvantage of IoT would be privacy. We may feel that we are always “monitored”. Wherever we go, there will be a machine which is guiding you and of course taking control over you. As two sides of a coin, this will have both positive and negative impacts. Children may forget to work in civic conditions; they are more vulnerable to technology.

When machines are communicating, the obvious vulnerability is attacks. So securing the devices, both physically and in terms of software is very important challenge. All existing networks have already implemented IPv4. Changing those to IPv6, in order to have communication with the new devices is still more challenging. There are lots of design challenges in this. Whether to transform all devices all of a sudden to IPv6, or to change them gradually ( migration) etc.

Since all the devices would be battery operated tiny devices, energy conservation will be another problem in this area. If the device is failed due to battery failure then communication is not possible. In order to avoid this, the algorithms used for routing or any other computation should involve less overhead..

May be in future, when a child is born, it will be assigned with a unique Identifier, implanted with a chip with all the data will be needed for the child. Whenever the child wants to get some information, he/she can retrieve it from the chip. This will happen. Let us be ready to face the new digital era of anywhere anytime.