One of the most dynamic and exciting developments in information and communications technology is the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). Although networking technologies have become increasingly ubiquitous over the past two decades, until recently they have largely been restricted to connecting traditional end-user devices, such as mainframes, desktop and laptop computers, and, more recently, smartphones and tablets.
Recent years have witnessed the attachment of a much broader range of devices to the network. These have included vehicles, household appliances, medical devices, electric meters and controls, street lights, traffic controls, smart TVs and digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Industry analysts estimate that there are currently more than eight billion such devices connected to the network and project that this number will expand to more than 25 billion by 2020. The increasing deployment of these devices has enabled new use cases for network technologies. Some experts project that the IoT may generate as much as US$13 trillion in revenue by 2025.
Unlike traditional cyber systems, which connect general-purpose computers, IoT systems often link together highly specialized devices designed for specific purposes with only a limited degree of programmability and customizability.