What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a network of connected objects that link the physical world with the world of information through the web. The advent of TCP/IP v6, launched in 2006, expanded the capabilities of the Internet, and enabled objects, sensors, and devices to be addressable and thus findable across the Internet. This augmented address space is particularly useful for tracking objects that monitor sensitive equipment or materials, point-of-sale purchases, passport tracking, inventory management, identification, and similar applications. Embedded chips, sensors, or tiny processors attached to an object allow helpful information about the object, such as cost, age, temperature, color, pressure, or humidity to be transmitted over the Internet. This simple connection allows remote management, status monitoring, tracking, and alerts if the objects they are attached to are in danger of being damaged or spoiled. Many web tools allow objects to be annotated with descriptions, photographs, and connections to other objects, and other contextual information; the Internet of Things makes access to these data as easy as it is to use the web.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The internet of things, also touches on notions of ubiquitous computing and pervasive computing. Imagined examples sometime cited include that your refrigerator sends you a message that you need to buy milk on the way home, or that your washing machine puts a call into for service without any intervention from you. Better examples include remote monitoring of an elderly relative using sensors to monitor movement around the house, for example. Or examples that already exist like high end appliances that you can control remotely by using an app downloaded to your phone. See e.g. http://www.cnet.com/au/news/control-these-large-smart-appliances-with-your-iphone/ and
    http://www.wired.com/2014/05/apple-internet-of-things/ [- ewallis ewallis Nov 1, 2014]
  • For now, the most practical example of the internet of things in a museum setting has not so much a public-facing purpose as a museum purpose. I'm thinking of gallery control systems - our galleries increasingly include complex lighting, interactives, projections and technology. Controlling all these requires more than having an army of technical staff physically in the galleries every day turning things on and off manually. Our museum has recently developed a gallery control system that can be operated remotely - called Nodel - and it's the closest application of the Internet of Things in a museum context that I can think of at the moment. See http://www.av.net.au/wp/index.php/museum-control-goes-nodel/ [- ewallis ewallis Nov 1, 2014]
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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