Although the Internet of Things (IoT) is seen as a vision of what is to come, rather than a technology in and of itself, it reflects trends in both technological innovation and business strategy. It refers to the convergence of previously disparate telecommunication technologies to create an environment with ubiquitous communication capabilities. For the IoT to become a reality, the development of many different types of technology will have to be coordinated, ranging from item labeling and process control to wireless technology and network interconnection.
These requirements are illustrated in Figure 7.1. Product identification refers to the mechanisms by which individual items can be identified and tracked, via for instance traditional bar codes or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. Sensor network and home automation technologies that have developed from industrial process control systems make it possible to monitor the ambient environment. Wireless technology is of course a pre-requisite (enabling any physical object to become a part of this ubiquitous network) as is network interconnection via the Internet (enabling global access and reach). Although wireless access technology will become prevalent, there will continue to be a role for wired systems such as power line communication (PLC) within the home.