Change the Internet of Things

May 04, 2017 at 8:24 PM

When I think of the Internet of Things I can’t help but think how poorly they planned out the name.

For those of you who don’t know, the Internet of Things is the common name for any device that is able to be controlled using various user interfaces. It describes a future of devices that once had no data collecting capabilities or digital controls and giving them just that. examples include but are certainly not limited to controlling the home temperature from anywhere you have an internet connection or using your phone to check the stock of the refrigerator. The applications are limitless. Using everyday devices we take for granted as data collecting controllers will continue to be the wave of the future.

These are truly fantastic improvements in our everyday life in regards to convince piece of mind. However in order for this technology to be successful it has to get the name right. The Internet of Things name does not even come close to doing the technology justice and I will explain in detail why. All three words in the phrase were wrongly chosen to represent the technology. The name should be altered before this technology further explodes.

The Internet of Things when you hear it you automatically assume due to the name that the internet is required to use it. This could not be further from the truth. I could, via local home network, using the same principles as the Internet of Things control these newer type of devices in my own home without ever connecting to the internet. This completely destroys the internet part of the Internet of Things right away. The problem with internet in the name is because the internet refers to a specific group of networks that happens connects everyone in the world. A personal example is I used a raspberry pi and the gipo connectors on it to “hack” a normal garage door opener to be controlled using a web browser. But it only works when you are connected to the wifi of the home. No pesky internet required. Granted using port forwarding it is possible to make this work using the internet but not required at all. Strike one for INTERNET in Internet of Things.

The biggest problem with the Internet of Things naming convention is the phrasing. Internet OF Things gives the impression that there is an entire separate internet built for these things. It makes no grammatical sense for what it is. The “of” in Internet of Things gives people the idea that we are making new networks specifically for our so called smart devices. This could not be further from the truth. The internet is only getting larger and while we are building bigger networks I can say with absolute certainty that this internet that the Internet of Things runs on is the same internet that we know and love that has been around for a few decades now. So to be clear, the Internet of Things is using the same internet in use today. Strike two for Of in Internet of Things.

One other issue with the name Internet of Things is the things part. Things is not descriptive at all. I understand what is meant by things as in any item can be included in this distinction. However once you pack something tight with embedded electronics it no longer becomes a thing. At that point it is safe to call it a device. Device is much more descriptive name and still applies to almost anything you can imagine whether a t-shirt or a refrigerator. “Thing” gives no indication to what items you are referring to it is generalizing to the public what can be considered an Internet of Things item. Strike three for THINGS in Internet of Things.

Three strikes you’re out Internet of Things.

I did a bit of research to find out how the current name came about and found out that Kevin Ashton first coined the phrase at a 1999 proctor and gamble RFID presentation. He is quite a fascinating man and he himself even he agreed in a May 2015 BBC interview that the naming is not quite right. Kevin Ashton the so called father of the Internet of Things says that he regrets using “of” in Internet of Things, claiming he wishes he used “for” instead and that we are now stuck with the name Internet of Things. Ashton further states he chose internet in the phrase only because it was a buzz word at the time and wanted to feed on the energy of that buzz.

I agree “Internet for Things” is grammatically better but I argue it is still not quite right and also we are not stuck with the phrase Internet of Things. We have the power to and should change the name. Going about this we have a couple different words that could be used in place of the current three words in the phrase.

Instead of:

  • “Internet”, Intranet could be used but is a specific term that not everyone understands. Put simply intranet is a private network cut off from but using the the same technology as the internet. Network could also be used as it is much more general than intranet but just as fitting.
  • “of”, for could be used as it just makes grammatical sense, much more so than of does.
  • “Things”, devices could be used as it describes a certain type of physical object. However the more I think about it the more I think the phrase should not limit the type of objects we are connecting because more and more objects will be connected and will not be limited.

After much thought here are the names I came up with based on what makes the most sense.

Bad - Internet of Things
Better- Internet for Things
Good- Intranet for Things, Intranet for Devices, Network for Devices
Best- Network for Things

Tags: internet of things technology connected devices
Category: Technical

Eli Davis

An interesting guy who loves technology