The Internet of Things Is Coming


Human Wrongs Watch

The International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy journal looks at new ways to harvest otherwise wasted energy to power the “Internet of Things”.

A touchscreen film: new energy harvesting can reap the force of pressing to power items that feed into the Internet of Things.

**A touchscreen film: new energy harvesting can reap the force of pressing to power items that feed into the Internet of Things. Photo by Paul Rako | Source IEA

By IEA* — The Internet of Things is coming. While most often referring to the networking of electronics and appliances, it also applies to other objects around us, such as e-books, lampposts, even trees, that are connected and as a result need a power source.

How to power them is the subject of an in-depth article in the next issue of IEA Energy: The Journal of the International Energy Agency.

Futuristic Vision in the Early 2000s

While an increasingly hot topic for industry, the Internet of Things is not a new concept. It emerged in the early 2000s as the then-futuristic vision of a society where all objects in daily life were equipped with identifiers and wireless connectivity and so could communicate with each other.

The opportunities are huge. Besides the potential benefit to the electricity grid from sensors and controls that monitor spikes in demand or mechanical faults, devices that track and report real-time weather and soil conditions can raise agricultural productivity, while reliable tracking and reporting of traffic flow can alleviate congestion.

Sensors can dramatically improve health care and other services, while industry can reap huge cost savings, for example through immediate notification of equipment failure or automated and virtually instantaneous inventory of stock.

While the Internet of Things seemed far off a decade ago, most of the technologies needed to achieve it are in place today. But alongside all these benefits there is also potentially a very steep energy cost to pay.

To ensure that the step forward does not equate to the need to install a lot of new electricity generation plants, it is not enough to reduce the devices’ power demand. Instead, new ways of powering these devices and things need to be explored.

Learn more on Pages 32-33 of Issue 7 of IEA Energy, now available online. Click here to read it and earlier issues of IEA Energy.

*Source: International Energy Agency (IEA). Go to Original

**Image: A touchscreen film: new energy harvesting can reap the force of pressing to power items that feed into the Internet of Things. Photo by Paul Rako, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode | Source IEA.

2014 Human Wrongs Watch

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