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The history of Internet of Things (IoT)

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Data transmitted every half-hour from the cloud provided temperature observations to the men of science for predicting weather patterns with more accuracy than ever before.

Men of science?

Yes, you read correctly and this is not a politically incorrect statement: these events were taking place in the nineteenth century – in 1843 to be exact.

The cloud was where a captive balloon, 18 feet in diameter and 25 feet high, was transmitting data from a wet-and-dry-bulb thermometer encased in a box weighing around 4 pounds and connected via two very fine copper wires covered with silk to the ground, where a receiving station printed the readings on a paper tape.

It all began in Woolwich


The British Association for the Advancement of Science (now the British Science Association)  reported that these “men of science”, Sir Charles Wheatstone prominently among them, had received a grant of £250 for this experiment which was taking place in Woolwich.

Surely, this must have been one of the earliest recorded use of machine to machine communication (M2M), before the concept morphed into the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT is an old story indeed, but it is still an exciting field where innovation thrives.

Making ‘the edge’ of the Internet smarter

Previously, Sam and I worked in a well-known telecommunications company, and we shared a passion for making business move faster and services more compelling by making ‘the edge’ of the Internet smarter – automated, autonomous and fully connected.

As early as 2006, we pioneered all things smart and connected, driven by the vision of real-time business and , where no time is lost in information exchange and responses are immediate

First came traceability

Back then traceability, via technology such as

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) - electronic tags that you often see on consumer products to identify a product - was the language of the day. We would consider: how do we track and trace for better business insight into where our things are and what they are doing?

Then came M2M

Smart factory
Smart factory

M2M was driven by the telecommunications companies looking to exploit data on their newly deployed 3G and 4G networks. This brought ‘connectivity’, and we rode this wave too, before it transformed into the IOT tsunami we see today.

10 years of smart product development

Over these ten years, we helped our customers conceive and incubate products including:

  • smart pill packets that detected when you took your medication
  • smart pallets to track inventory in the logistics supply chain
  • smart food trolleys for airlines
  • smart car parking
  • talking vending machines

It has been more than 170 years since the connected balloon raised into the clouds to make things smarter. What a journey it has been! Yet, many new and exciting things are yet to come.

Follow me on Twitter: @jf_favaverde

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