Depending on who you ask, connecting to the Internet has many different names. These different names connote as many different “visions” as people ascribe to 5G.
The most oft heard is the Internet of things (IoT). But, of late, I am hearing it be called a number of derivations such as the Internet of everything (IoE), the Internet of medical things (IoMT), the Internet of your things (IoYT), the industrial Internet of things (IIoT), the Internet of small things (IoST), and many more – each with their own acronym, of which I spare the reader of including.
I like to use the Internet of anything (IoX) which came up in a discussion among myself and some contemporaries a while back. I like that because it doesn’t leave any room for ambiguity. And I have been using that for some time now.
Frankly, the IoX has nearly always been here. When Al Gore invented the Internet (just kidding!), it immediately became the IoT. At that time, it was just mostly computers. Over the years it has evolved to include just about anything that is tethered to anything else, wireline or wireless, which, today, includes just about every type of device.
Since the IoX is still pretty much a vision, it suffers from the same perception issues as 5G. There are no standards yet, and, realistically, the devices that exist for it are what is on networks now. And that includes all types of dissimilar devices, networks and platforms. In a sense, this can already be considered the IoX. And it suffers from many of the issues that come with patching dissimilar, often proprietary networks together. Once the billions and billions of devices that are expected to be part of the IoX soon come on line, this just won’t work.
How this is all going to shake out is yet to be seen. I have written about this occasionally, especially when I see a company marketing a product for a specific segment, such a medical or wearables. I am starting to see the marketing segment subdividing the IoX into the “Internet of-whatever they want,” just so they can develop or redesign devices and get an early jump on claiming they are IoX devices. This is where I am starting to see a number of similarities with 5G.
I totally get that the job of marketing is to create a market for their products. For vehicles, clothes, furniture and any number of similar objects, that is fine (at least until we have smart furniture or smart clothes that can let us know it needs to have the pillows turned, or be laundered). There is no interoperability issue with a shirt or sofa. But this is not the case here. In a recent discussion with a number of industry experts, there is a general consensus that this marketing movement is happening, and that the IoX will eventually become the Internet of many different things, and specific industry players will create lots of niche markets under the umbrella of the IoX.
But the fact that there are so many attempts to sub-categorize the IoX, worries me a bit, just like 5G. If this continues, and there is no common ground to develop standards and interoperability, it will make the ultimate goal of the IoX much harder, and take it much longer to materialize into the true vision.
What I find interesting is that I have started to see digital publications bring the IIoT online big time. The IIoT is nothing but a repackaging of the 40+ year old machine-to-machine segment of industrial connectivity. All that is happening to it now is that the networks that were typically intranets (such as a warehouses or campuses, for example) are now going Internet as well, with connectivity to the rest of the world. Calling it the IIoT is just another attempt to rebrand an existing platform to make it chic.
In fact, IoTnow concentrates on topics that are generally industrial: automotive, mHeath, telematics, smart cities, utilities, etc., all part of the traditional M2M market, but it doesn’t call itself IIoTnow, or IoSCnow, or IoUnow.
Same story for for a pub called M2M, which is almost a carbon copy of IoTnow. Most of their topics deal with the IoT, not the IIoT. And M2M is the grand pappy of the IoX. They simply single out M2M subject and topics and do not try to pidgeonhole them.
Even this site, which has industrial in its name – “industrialiot5g.com, says little about the industrial Internet. Rather, if one visits the site, one sees things like “IoT to account for nearly half of IT budgets by 2020;” “The Internet of Things finds a home in smart cities;” and “Dutch province launches first 5G testbed in rural area.” That tells me a lot.
What I hope is that, eventually, all of these brilliant marketers realize that there is a better way to do this. Not to try and create separate IoTs, but to create markets within the IoX – i.e. the medical segment within the IoX, the industrial segment within the IoX, the automotive segment of the IoX…and so forth. All of this within a common IoX technical umbrella. IMHO, attempting to create a bunch of separate Internets ahead of the IoX, just to try and create (or recreate) a market is a bad idea, just like calling “pre-5G, or “4.5G” or 5G-like, is. We have been here before.