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Exploring the Internet of Things

Exploring the Internet of Things

The age of the Internet of Things where everyday items like your fridge or bed are connected to the web is approaching.

In fact machine to machine communication is already here. But it is tipped to become an integral part of 21st century life. Homes, vehicles and clothes are set to become ‘smarter’ – we’ve all heard about driverless cars. What is this going to mean for the way people, governments and companies conduct their business? What are the benefits and potential risks of the things we use being internet enabled?

To find out a group of students has been awarded Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia to extend their knowledge and gain expertise in this area. They will travel to China’s Wuhan University and Chongqing University of Science and Technology to learn from those at the forefront about the coming wave of internet connection.

Reflecting the internet’s pervasiveness the cohort of 15 Unitec students to receive the scholarship come from a broad range of environments, including computer science, engineering, design and communications.

Unitec Computing Head of Department Hossein Sarrafzadeh says by 2020 there will be 80 billion connected devices in the world, up from around 42 billion today.

“Current adoption is low, although the propaganda has been very big,” he says of the Internet of Things. “But there are huge opportunities to optimise physical assets, differentiate new products and services or transform customer engagement.”

He sees healthcare, transportation, education, security and surveillance as areas particularly ripe for Internet of Things disruption.

“It’s an area that is not widely understood so our students are going to learn what the latest developments are and what some of the implications of those will be. China has just passed cyber security legislation to protect their citizens from cybercrime – other countries are sure to follow.”

Unitec Bachelor of Computing systems student James Donaldson, 20, is one of the students to be making the trip. In his third year James is specialising in cyber security and networking and sees many potential pitfalls that need to be understood, especially around consumer privacy.

“I’m keen to look at the security repercussions of the Internet of Things and the impact on the world in future if fridges and ovens are connected to the internet,” he says.

“What happens if those fridges store data and sell that information to companies, like to Coca-Cola for example about how much you consume? Another problem is different governments have different laws on privacy, so how do we establish permissions on those products? The US wants to know all about its citizens."

The group departs on December 20 for four weeks.


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