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IoT history and what’s to come

The internet-of-things (IoT) has just lately become a part and parcel of our daily lives. It is around us anywhere we go to, connected vehicles on city roadways, home automation devices situated at your homes, smart office sensors integrated into the workplace, and wearables we take with us wherever we go. In conjunction, they create a humongous ecosystem of 26.66 billion interconnected things, according to Statista, which have a considerable influence over societies and economies globally. 

However, the planet hasn’t always been this way. Up until 1999, that is, at around the turn of the century, the term “Internet-of-things” wasn’t even a thing. (pun intended) So, how did the internet-of-things experience such rapid evolution and become such a commonplace buzzword, and what landmarks signified internet-of-things development internationally? To find solutions to these questions, we have to delve into the history of this amazing technology. 

A brief history of the Internet-of-things 

The idea of connected devices goes back to 1832 when the first electromagnetic telegraph was developed. The telegraph facilitated direct interaction amongst two machines through the transferring of electrical signals. But, the real IoT history began with the proliferation of the internet – a very critical component – in the late 1960s, which then grew at a rapid speed over the course of the next few decades, until it has reached a point today where it is virtually indispensable.  

The 1980s 

This might be a bit tough to digest, but the very first connected device was a Coca-Cola vending machine located at the Carnegie Melon University and managed by local programmers. Integration of micro-switches into the machine was carried out and leveraged a preliminary form of the internet to observe if the cooling device was maintaining the coldness of the drinks and if there were enough Coke cans in the machines. This invention compelled subsequent studies in the domain and the development of interconnected devices all over the globe. 

The 1990s 

In 1990, John Romkey got a toaster online for the very first time with a TCP/IP protocol. A year on, University of Cambridge researchers put forth the idea of using the first web camera prototype to survey the amount of coffee available in their local computer lab’s coffee pot. They coded the webcam to capture images of the coffee pot three times in a minute, then transmit the imagery to local computers, this enabling everybody to see if there was coffee for them. 

The year 1999, right around the turn of the millennium, was one of the most important in the history of the Internet-of-things, as Kevin Ashton was responsible for the coinage of the term “the internet of things.” An innovator and a visionary technologist, Ashton was sharing a presentation for Procter and Gamble where he detailed IoT as a tech that brought together several gadgets with the assistance of RFID tags for supply chain management. 

He particularly used the word internet in the title of his presentation to capture the audience’s attention as the internet was just breaking through into the mainstream at the time. While his concept of RFID-based gadget connectivity is vastly different from today’s IP-driven IoT, Ashton’s revolutionary thought process played a critical role in the history of the internet of things and technological progression overall. 

The 2000s 

At the turn of the millennium, the term internet-of-things came into prominence in mainstream media, with publications such as The Guardian, Forbes, and Boston Globe talking about it. Interest and public fascination with regards to the nascent IoT technology was gradually increasing, which had the outcome of the 1st Global Conference on the Internet-of-things conducted in Switzerland in 2008, where participants ranging from 23 countries discussed RFID, short-range wireless communications, and sensor networks.  

Further, various revolutionary developments fostered the evolution of IoT. One was a fridge that was capable of connecting to the internet that was put forth by LG Electronics in 2000, enabling end-users to do their shopping online and place video calls. Another critical development was a miniscule rabbit-shaped bot called Nabaztag developed in 2005 that had the capability of telling the latest news, weather forecasts, and stock market changes. 

Even at that time, the number of interconnected devices beat the number of individuals on earth, according to Cisco. 

The 2010s 

The IoT explosion was assisted by its inclusion to the Gartner Hype Cycle for emergent technologies in 2011.  

Once again, in 2011, IPv6, a network layer protocol that is core to IoT was initiated publicly.  

Since that time, interconnected devices have become ubiquitous and widespread in our day to day lives. International tech heavyweights such as Apple, Cisco, Google, Samsung and General Motors are concentrating their efforts on the development of IoT devices and sensors, ranging from interconnected thermostats and smart glasses to autonomous vehicles. IoT has made its way into nearly every domain, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, agriculture, oil and energy, retail, and several more. This drastic shift has everybody convinced that the IoT revolution is taking place at this very moment. 

Currently, IoT platforms retain a robust hold on their position amongst the leading trends in this year’s Gartner Hype Cycle, together with virtual assistants, connected homes, and level 4 autonomous vehicles. The technology will get to a plateau with regards to its productivity in half-a-decade to a decade from now. 

A look into the future of the internet of things 

Provided this rapid speed of development, IoT will soon be a very common thing across the world. In the year 2019, Gartner forecasted that the enterprise and automotive IoT market would expand to 5.8 billion endpoints by 2020, signifying a 21% appreciation from 2019. Everything that can get connected will be connected, therefore creating a robust digital system wherein all gadgets interact with individuals and one another. 

Here are various critical factors compelling this swift IoT explosion: 

  • Reducing sensor costs 
  • Reducing costs of data gathering and storage owing to cloud solutions 
  • Broadly expanding online connectivity 
  • Improving computational capabilities 
  • Improving smartphone and tablet penetration 

Without a doubt, IoT’s rapid expansion will basically alter the world we dwell in. Visualize how an interconnected vehicle will attain your work schedule and provide notifications to associates about you running late to the meeting if you’re stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work. 

We are moving towards an inevitable interconnected future and it will definitely provide a lot of value and thrilling avenues for individuals. Although, it will come with its own set of hurdles. Let’s observe what specialists think about what the future holds for the internet-of-things and emerging trends within industry. 

IoT will become particular to industries 

In the not-too-distant future, IoT producers will concentrate on developing solutions for specific industries and industry segments over for generalized requirements. There is an escalating demand for particular use cases that assist to find solutions to industry-specific hurdles. For instance, IoT solutions for remote patient surveillance targeted at minimizing expenditure and enhancing the quality of patient care. The international remote patient monitoring market is forecasted to attain $1.8 billion in a mere five years from now, according to Grand View Research estimates. 

New spheres are also propping up at the intersections between interconnected technologies and several industries: 

  • Internet of medical things 
  • Industrial internet of things 
  • Automotive internet of things 
  • Smart cities and smart buildings 
  • Smart agriculture 
  • Smart retail 

IoT will continue to combine with other technologies 

However capable the internet-of-things is by itself, it furnishes far more avenues when leveraged in conjunction with other technologies like Blockchain, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, AR/VR and edge and cloud computing. In the near future, there will be far more hybrid solutions. 

For instance, the application of Blockchain within IoT will assist in decentralizing networks and make sure that there is improved security in information transmission amongst interconnected devices. Blockchain is at the current moment a leading IoT trend, and more value is certain to emerge from the confluence of these two technologies. 

IoT’s immediate future has a close relationship with artificial intelligence and machine learning also. Application instances consist of the predictive maintenance of interconnected devices, the self-optimization of production processes, and smart home gadgets that go about learning your preferences. In the not too distant future, IoT gadgets will not just go about reporting data, but they will also make independent decisions and become more intelligent on their own through the deployment of machine learning strategies. 

Edge and Cloud computing will continue to be critical to the internet-of-things information storage in the years to come, with specialists forecasting that edge computing will soon gain even more prominence. 


Regardless of the efforts of several governments to fortify IoT security regulations and enhance protective mechanisms for interconnectivity, information security and privacy issues will never diminish. Cybercriminals leverage more and more advanced strategies in to order to detect susceptibilities in connected gadgets, therefore obtaining access to private data. As an outcome, customers and enterprises have growing concerns with regards to IoT security and view it as the leading hurdle to wider IoT adoption. 

Perhaps, taking priority above all other matters, identifying solutions to ensure IoT security and information privacy will be the industry’s primary goal in the future. 


Having had a broad look at the past, present, and the future of the internet of things, we’ve arrived at the conclusion that interconnected technologies are experiencing rapid evolution regardless of escalating cybersecurity hurdles. IoT solutions are a surely going to continue in their evolution in the years to come, and in turn they will alter the way we live and work in our daily lives. 

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