Innovations in Science: A Birthday, the Internet of Things and the Future of Science Research

I’d like to start this column by wishing Tim Berners-Lee a happy 60th birthday (June 8). I don’t know him personally, but Tim invented the World Wide Web, and like the billions of us who use the Internet on a daily basis, I tip my hat to his legacy.

There isn’t any facet of our lives that hasn’t been impacted by the Internet in some way and certainly business today couldn’t function without it. (Remember when we thought fax machines were breakthrough technology?) But it’s probably had greater impact on science research than on anything else since the invention of the printing press.

Today we have the Internet of Things (IoT), a computing concept whereby everyday physical objects are connected to the Internet and able to identify themselves to other devices. In doing so, that object becomes greater than itself since it is now connected to surrounding objects and data. When several objects act in unison, it is known as having “ambient intelligence”.

The IoT will most certainly change our lives. Buildings with Internet-based HVAC systems can be monitored for energy efficiency thereby allowing utilities to better determine when and where to boost or lower power as needed. A person’s ability to interact with objects could be altered based on immediate needs or actions. This could be a life-line for an elderly person living alone. Devices would turn on or off or alert family members when a particular pattern of movement is interrupted. For the technology and entertainment industries, copyright and digital restrictions management could be much more easily enforced and help to combat Intellectual Property theft.

In STM (science, technology and medicine) publishing, an IoT has already proven to be advantageous to —> Read More