Like others, he foresees the internet of things in the far future being connected into our very bodies, using hybrid components that marry the biological with the electronic. “We could create biological transistors for example, using proteins and graphene circuits,” he imagines.
Body sensor networks made this way could report to your doctor via the internet he claims, and receive instructions the same way as part of your treatment. “It sounds like science fiction,” Akyildiz accepts, “but it’s part of an e-health vision for 25 years in the future.”
Of course, with this kind of intimate connectivity, you would really want to know about the trust and security arrangements. Much sooner, Akyildiz foresees the internet of things improving our lives in all kinds of subtle ways - invisibly controlling the lights, heating, air conditioning in our rooms and offices.
Giacomo Morabito would like a front door to his house that realises when he’s left it open by mistake, and shut itself. Jim Poss would like smart lorries that would know what goods are in the neighbourhood destined to go to the same destination, before they set off half-loaded down the highway.
Morabito says in many ways all the technology is in place to let these things happen soon. But, he says, what’s holding the internet of things back is the lack of a common language, a set of standards that means that billions of devices will connect effortlessly. These standards – whilst perhaps lacking the excitement of many of the applications – are critical. It was the creation of international standards that allowed mobile phones become a worldwide phenomenon.
“There are a lot of smart applications using intelligent sensors already, but it’s in our hands what the internet of things will be by 2020,” he says.