The popularity of the ‘Internet of Things’

From Wikipedia page on Internet of Things

We are all aware of the hype and the great media attraction on the ‘Internet of Things’: predictions about zillions of connected objects, white papers, infographics, acquisitions, startups, crowdfunded campaigns, conventions and various events, endless debates about the terminology, etc.

But all this did not exist 2 or 3 years ago! So when did this media attention really start to happen and why?

I have been in this domain, both for doing research and for personal interest (which in both cases led to building cool connected projects) for the past 4 years, and I am pretty sure we all agree on the fact that most of the technologies that enable us to build connected objects existed at the time. What has changed since then?

Let’s take a look at some graphs that can provide some information on when the media started to get attracted on the IoT:


This first graph is from the search activity on Google for the IoT term. The first mentions date back to July 2007 (first mentions of the term also in research papers – source: The first rise takes place around the beginning of 2010, while in mid 2012 the search rate grows higher and explodes after mid 2013. In 2010 there have been reports about the value and the upcoming growth of the IoT (like this one), but also something important happened back then in the Arduino world: At the end 2009, the first Arduino Ethernet shield became the mainstream way to connect your Arduino t the Internet, and a bit later, the first library for building a WiFi-based web client was published and vendors started providing WiFi-enabled Arduinos!

The second graph is from Gigaom and is generated every time you search on their website for the ‘internet of things’ term.


It displays the number of articles published around the IoT for each month, for the last 2 years. In 2012 there are less than 10 articles on IoT and one of them was about SmartThings (still active campaign on kickstarter back then). If you look at the early SmartThings prototype photos you will recognise an Arduino board ;). In the following months the published articles are on startups and connected objects, big vendors announcing their interest on IoT, acquisitions and crowd-funding campaigns. Of course wearables played an important role on this, with Pebble being one of the most successful kickstarter campaigns ever (ended on May 2012). Pebble smartwatch was also prototyped using an Arduino.

Where we stand now? Dozens of reports, events and press articles every month. On the product/project side, more than 180 connected devices for the Connected Home, 130 wearables in the Connected Body category and 40 projects for the Connected City (as indexed by Postscapes), mainly developed by startups and communities.

While this is not an extensive research, I am sure that this all started thanks to the makers movement and the Arduino who allowed people to start prototyping with connected objects.

Thank you Arduino and OSHW!


For those still wondering what the Internet of Things really is, here is the term I like to use most: “IoT is technologies and notions allowing connected objects to communicate with Internet services for the benefit of the user“. And if you are building a project/service/platform and you are wondering whether it can be considered as IoT or not, here is a link by @iotwatch that can help you on that.


2 thoughts on “The popularity of the ‘Internet of Things’

  1. I’m still frustrated since domestic appliances will not offer open interfaces. The path from hacking to user centric home automation needs much more political support to fly. Open inferfaces and compatible system architectures are needed

  2. One of the challenges with IoT is the lack of a good starting framework to use that can go from a toy prototype to a commercial product without having to change the components that are being used. Arduino and Rasberry Pi are nice educational toys but neither was designed to be used for anything other than that. They are also limited in what they can do and how one would program them.

    TOI has produced an solution that uses an optimized version of Python to make it accessible to the very large group of developer who already know this language and it can work in an optimized execute for embedded solutions. It will work across many board, ARduino and UDOO for example and it is very easy to code sensors and actuators.

    The project has a kickstarter campaign now which will make this solution available to anyone who is interested in the future.

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