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
Some experts see the IoT taking off as standards fall into place and businesses become more comfortable with the idea of sharing supply-chain data for their mutual benefit. "I believe that business intelligence applications will lay the groundwork on the Internet of Things… and become its most important application," says Antonio Rizzi, professor of industrial logistics and supply-chain management at Italy's University of Parma. "Business intelligence gathers data from different data warehouses and puts all this information together, making it possible to determine what's going on in the supply chain in real time."

The IoT promises to help shippers follow a load beyond the warehouse or distribution center. "Information about whether goods are in stores, or properly placed on shelves, or waiting in the back room instead of in the shopping area—this is important information that companies are striving for," Rizzi says.

Despite the current challenges, Steinberg believes it's only a matter of time before there's a surge in IoT deployments. "RFID tagging will become ubiquitous and buildings... will incorporate RFID into their infrastructure, as they are doing with Wi-Fi today," he predicts.

Ubiquitous RFID will enable an entire building, campus or community to be "instantaneously illuminated," to detect, read and sort all the RFID tags located within, to conduct an immediate site inventory. "This may take more than a few years to reach a similar point of where we are today with wireless," Steinberg says. "But the benefits to individuals and enterprises that the Internet of Things concept offers suggests that it will happen sooner rather than later."
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