Ovidiu Vermesan is Chief Scientist at SINTEF Information and Communication Technology, Oslo, Norway and co-editor (with Peter Friess, EC Coordinator, DG Information Society and Media) of a book of essays on Internet of Things. This is a real masterpiece for those who are seeking a comprehensive look at all the different trends around IoT.

Vermesan recently contributed to a mailing list discussion on the topic of how we will define the IoT (see my post in January 2012 on the topic here and from June 2011 here). This was in response to a suggestion that IoT should be limited to those applications enabled with RFID. I find the historical perspective of this debate interesting so I obtained permission to publish the memo here (with a few edits).

"Internet of Things is much more than M2M communication and wireless sensor networks, 2G/3G/4G, RFID, etc. These are enabling technologies that will make "Internet of Things" applications possible.

So, what is the Internet of Things? Let's look at some statements made in the past 90 years:
 
1926 – Nikola Tesla in an interview with Colliers magazine:  "When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole………and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket."
 
1991 – Mark Weiser's Scientific American article on ubiquitous computing ‘The Computer for the 21st Century’, where he stated “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”.
 
1999 – Neil Gershenfeld published his book "When Things Start to Think" and stated “in retrospect it looks like the rapid growth of the World Wide Web may have been just the trigger charge that is now setting off the real explosion, as things start to use the Net.” 1999.
 
2004 – Neil Gershenfeld, Raffi Krikorian and Danny Cohen in the article "The Internet of Things" stated "The principles that gave rise to the Internet are now leading to a new kind of network of everyday devices, an "Internet-0" (unfortunately, this is not accessible without a subscription to Scientific American).
 
2009 – Kevin Ashton in an article in RFID Journal: "I could be wrong, but I'm fairly sure the phrase "Internet of Things" started life as the title of a presentation I made at Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1999".

Thank you to Vermesan and all those who foresaw and shared this trend, and to those who continue to seek a definition that will hold firmly into the future while also serving us today!