A Blast from the Past (the present of the past)
This text is part of a panel.
In August 2010 I had convinced the European Commission to set up an IoT Expert Group to debate the requirements and options for implementing the EC Communication on “Internet of Things – An action plan for Europe” (May 18th, 2009). The group held regular meetings in Brussels until November 14th, 2012.
An Internet of Nouns
At this time, the Internet of Things (IoT) was still mainly discussed within academia. The term ‘Internet of Things’ had been coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton to describe a system where the Internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors. The concept itself was not so new, and we can retrieve its roots in a number of related terms such as Pervasive Computing / Ubiquitous Computing (Mark Weiser at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, 1988), Ambient Intelligence (Philips Research, 1998, and European Commission’s Information Society Technologies Advisory Board, 2001, Ubiquitous Networking (Prof Ken Sakamura, Director YRP Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory, 2004) ), Cyber Physical Systems (Dr Helen Gill, U.S. National Science Foundation, 2006), and more.
By 2012, it had become clear that against some predictions the term ‘Internet of Things’ would prevail outside academia, gaining adherence in industry, the public sector, and later the entire society. This was less the case for the neighboring term ‘Ambient Intelligence’ (Ami), which gradually evaporated outside the academic microcosm. The discussions in the IoT Expert Group encompassed several technical issues – architectures, identification, standards – and policy / regulatory issues – privacy & data protection, security, ethics, governance.