Contributing Factors

Every industrial revolution is brought about by a combination of factors. It's never just one thing coming out of a vacuum. The first industrial revolution came about in the U.K. because of a happy confluence of forces: the natural gifts of the hydro power created by rivers flowing down from the Highlands into the Firths of Forth and Clyde, those two naturally protected harbors, and the rich beds of coal in northern England; the geographical/political rearrangement of power structures brought about by the defeat of Napoleon and British domination of sea power that would last for nearly a century; the intellectual and scientific flowering that also took place in northern England and Scotland; and many inventions, both small and large that each contributed to a reshaping of the way we worked and thought about work. The power loom, the spinning jenney, the steam engine, the advances in steel making, the railroads, all played a part. One alone would not have done the trick,  

The same will be true of the Internet of Things. Not every one of the inventions developed around the IoT will make the cut. Some will disappear as quickly as they appeared. (See many of the early casualties of Internet commerce.) But some will make the grade and contribute to the eventual final shape the IoT will take.

The current issue of Scientific American explores possible ways to wirelessly power all the small sensors that are at the heart of IoT. "Power to the Internet" explores four possible techniques for completely cutting the cords that power the IoT now—piezoelectric, solar, Wi-Fi backscatter and thermoelectric. The article isn't long, and it's worth the read.