You’ve just landed in a new city on a weekend getaway. You grab your small carry-on and head out to the airport exit to get a ride to the hotel. A tiny communication device attached to the back of your ear asks if you need a ride for one person and you confirm. At the curb, a vehicle stops in front of you and a green light on the door indicates it is yours. When you get in the car, there is no driver. In fact, there is no driver’s seat or steering wheel. Instead, four seats face each other around a small central worktable. The car knows where you are going because of your hotel reservation information in your phone. As you approach the hotel, your room location appears on your phone. You are checked in automatically when you walk in the hotel entrance. Your phone unlocks your room.
This is an example of how the Internet of Things (IoT) will change our lives. Innovative technologies working together seamlessly over the internet will transform how we interact with almost everything. There is exponential growth in the number of unique, sensor-rich and cyber-enabled devices processing data and communicating with other devices and computers around the world. The IoT is estimated to consist of almost 50 billion devices by 2020.
All of the technology in the example above exists today. Mobile apps offered by Hilton and other hotel chains allow guests to check in and unlock doors without ever needing to visit the front desk. Car services like Uber and Lyft are called from apps. They have human drivers for now but Google, Tesla and other companies are looking to change that with advanced driverless vehicle technology.
Innovative companies that embrace the IoT and pioneer new products as well as smart, connected versions of existing products are bound to surpass those that don’t. Nest Labs is a great example. The company sells stylish, smart and Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats that are like nothing consumers had ever seen from existing air conditioning companies. On February 7, 2014, Google paid 3.2 billion dollars to acquire the company and has greatly expanded their operation, introducing hot new products like Wi-Fi-enabled smoke alarms and cameras. Connected products and the IoT are the future and Google knows this. Tesla is another example of a company embracing the IoT. Their smart, Wi-Fi-enabled automobiles have operating systems that automatically update as new versions get released. Hyper-connected and equipped with sensors and GPS technology, the Model S cars already have many autonomous driving features such as automated steering, self-parking and braking. In the home, Wi-Fi-enabled Sonos speakers used in conjunction with music services such as Pandora make it easy to listen to your favorite music and discover new songs and artists. There is even a bathroom mirror in development, equipped with advanced sensors, that will scan your face each morning for signs of health problems.
Where is the IoT going? What’s in store as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things converge? How are devices able to analyze and learn from data? These and other key questions are explored in Enabling Technologies for Data Science and Analytics: The Internet of Things, a new course from Columbia University and edX. Learn about the technologies and platforms used, the relationship between natural language and data and how this data can be used to make decisions. Review research projects and learn about sensor technologies, processors and cloud computing platforms. The free, 5-week course is open to everyone and is the third part in a series of courses focusing on data science and analytics. Get connected to the Internet of Things. Enroll now at edX.org and let your imagination discover the next smart, internet-enabled product.