Welcome to the beginnings of Web 3.0, the Semantic Web or the Internet of Things. These might sound like meaningless buzz words but they are the future of technology as we know it; it's estimated that by the year 2020 more than fifty billion “things” will be connected to the internet, operating as a huge nervous system giving constant feedback on dozens of environmental factors.
In the beginning, the internet was a huge information resource, like a library accessible by anyone. Web 2.0 was the beginning of the sharing age, where information could come from any source, and this is what we see now – reviewing products online, sharing links and content through social media and accessing maps and directions. The future is Web 3.0, which is likened to having the internet as your personal assistant, in that it will be able to analyse and understand information on the Web and how it relates to you personally.
There are signs of this shift happening already – how many times have you seen a web-based advert for a product you've previously searched for? The internet is already working for us, and in the future it will know what we want before we even know; it will know our tastes, our location, our dietary requirements and hobbies. Imagine you've just been paid, and you're watching television when a note comes through letting you know your favourite online casino is offering a great bonus today. You will be able to connect to a site like brilliant.com on your smart TV, watch a show while you wait for a game to start and automatically share your successes on Facebook. Sometimes it is named the Semantic Web, meaning that the internet understands information, and is able to present it to us when we need it.
The phrase Internet of Things specifically refers to physical objects connected to the internet. Modern cars now have built-in GPS with traffic updates, bluetooth connections for music and phone playback through the car speakers itself; theoretically, sensors on your car could alert you through your bedside alarm clock when the windows are frosted, allowing you to remotely warm the car before you leave. Smart buildings will be able to sense temperature and presence in rooms, to avoid wasting energy heating empty rooms.
The progression of the Internet of Things means the addition of an RFID chip to a multitude of physical things. A Dutch start-up company called Sparked uses wireless sensors on their cattle which immediately informs the farmers when one is sick or pregnant; other farmers use ground sensors to assess crop conditions allowing them to remotely fix any issues.
The Internet of Things will make almost everything easier. By assigning an IP address to your keys, you could search on your phone for when they're lost, and location-based technology will tell you if your favourite shop is having a sale when you're in its vicinity. By being wirelessly connected to everything we can control more of our environment and avoid unnecessary waste - the future is on its way!