The Internet of Things

From concept to reality: Plans for a network that connects everything and everyone everywhere are well under way.
By John Edwards
Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology, supported by the ISO/IEC 14443 standard, promises to extend the IoT's reach to millions of people by bringing a growing number of NFC-compatible smartphones into the loop, says Victor Vega, director of RFID solutions for NXP Semiconductors, in San Jose, Calif. "NFC is quickly becoming a social enabler and a popular technology for the public, helping end users gather additional information about objects and helping to link them to [other] objects and locations," he says.

While many basic IoT supporting standards are already in place, "The poor economy in Europe and elsewhere is slowing standards development," Halliday says. "Companies, as a whole, have much tighter budgets, and they're not as interested in being involved in standards as they used to be," he explains. "So we see far fewer people participating [in standards projects] and far fewer companies willing to pay the money to participate—I think standards are a problem right now."

With both standards setters and adopters facing serious economic and business challenges, it will likely take at least several more years for IoT specifications to coalesce into a mature, ready-to-use tool set. Even then, the development landscape will probably be far from settled. "I think there will be competing standards that will exist side by side," Halliday says. "It may be very useful, for example, to be able to use your NFC card to open a door or buy a ticket as part of a greater Internet of Things. But NFC may not be particularly useful at cataloging items in your refrigerator."
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