UK more than doubles funds to build internet of things

UK government more than doubles funding for technology companies making devices that communicate over the internet.

The UK government has more than doubled the funding available to technology companies working on devices that communicate over the internet.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced an additional £45m funding for the development of internet of things (IoT) technology at the opening of the 2014 CeBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany.

This takes government funding for IoT technology to £73m as part of efforts to make the UK a world leader in digital technology, reports the BBC.

"I see the internet of things as a huge transformative development - a way of boosting productivity, of keeping us healthier, making transport more efficient, reducing energy needs, tackling climate change," said Cameron.

He said the UK and Germany could find themselves at the forefront of a new industrial revolution by working in partnership.

"We are on the brink of a new industrial revolution and I want us – the UK and Germany – to lead it,” said Cameron.

Automatic data transfer

IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the internet.

The term is used to refer to a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Research firm Gartner predicts there will be nearly 26 billion devices connected to the internet of things by 2020.

The UK government’s chief scientific advisor Mark Walport is to carry out a review into how these new technologies can be best exploited.

Exploiting white space

As a key part of enabling the IoT, Cameron is expected to announce at CeBIT that the UK plans to double to £100bn by 2025 the amount of economic benefit generated by the use of radio spectrum, partly by making full use of unused white space digital frequencies, reports the Guardian.

White space refers to underused portions of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. Large portions of the spectrum are currently unused, in particular the frequencies allocated for analogue television and those used as buffers to prevent interference between channels.

The UK’s new Spectrum Strategy is aimed at ensuring that unused frequencies are opened up for wide commercial use to help drive a new era of wireless communications.

The strategy includes a 13-point plan to work with telecoms regulator Ofcom to exploit unused frequencies and enable new applications to come online, new kinds of mobile technologies to be used, greater mobile bandwidth and new broadcasting services.

Despite the projected benefits of IoT, the prospect has also raised privacy and security concerns as cyber criminals increasingly target the channels and devices through which sensitive data flows.

Read more on Privacy and data protection