Synthetic Telepathy

-Microcircuits The Interface between Neurons and Global Brain Function-

Future Internet

Future Internet

Related terms:

Web 3.0, Internet of Things, Real World Internet, Semantic Web, Intelligent Web, Internet of Services


The development of digital information networks begun in the U.S.A. in the 1960’s at the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)[1] and as a result the first network called ARPANET was opened between four American universities in 1969. The network expanded rapidly and alongside with it also other networks such as X.25, UUCP and FidoNet emerged during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Eventually there was a need to join all the separate networks and the TCP/IP protocol was activated in 1983. It enabled this internetworking which led to the emergence of the Internet. By the development of World Wide Web (WWW) in the 1990’s the Internet became easily accessible to consumers and by the turn of the decade there were already almost 400,000,000 Internet users worldwide (ITU ICT Statistics, 2000; Zakon 2010, Wikipedia: History of the Internet). The beginning of the 21st century has witnessed an exponential growth in internet usage and data in the networks.

The way the Internet is used today is very different from what it was originally designed for. The Internet is facing several problems because of the enormous growth in content and traffic in the network. For example streaming video has become popular but it requires a lot of bandwidth and results in slowdown and congestion in the network. Also finding the right information among massive amount of data on the Internet has become a difficult task because the network is not able to understand the meaning of the data it is handling. Moreover, phenomena like e-commerce and Internet banking are struggling with security issues because they were not considered in the design of the original network architecture. These and other problems the Internet is facing today have led to the need for the research and development of Future Internet (FI).

The first state of the Internet has been called Web 1.0 and consisted of static pages characterised by a producer-spectator division. In this, the consumer was merely a receiver and user of content dictated and created by someone else, the producer. The producer normally had the technical know-how as a programmer and software developer.  The second and current state in 2010 is referred to as Web 2.0. In this state, the distinction between the producer and consumer of content has disappeared. New applications allow any end-user to create content on the Internet without the need to know any programming languages. This has enabled new ways of communicating using the old technologies and therefore referred to as a social rather than a technological novelty (Fuchs et al. 2010). The FI is sometimes referred to as Web 3.0.

FI is a higher level concept that refers to the Internet in the future in general regardless of what it will be like. The views on the technical development of the Internet architecture are strongly divided in two. Some believe in the evolutionary development where upgrades and refinements are making the Internet better and gradually adapting to the current needs. A common argument supporting this view is that the Internet is already so complex and vast that creating it from scratch is far too expensive if not impossible (Quitney Anderson et al. 2008). Others see the “clean slate” approach of creating a totally new Internet architecture as the more likely development or the only way to resolve the current problems of the Internet (Rubina 2009, ITU-T 2009).

One important aspect of FI is that the Internet will extend outside of the traditional computer devices so that any objects in the environment can be connected to it. This is called the Internet of Things (IoT) and its development started in 1999 when the Auto-ID Centre was established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It had a vision of a networked physical world (Schuster 2004). This global industry-sponsored centre worked for creating the Electronic Product Code, a global item identification system based on RFID technology[2]. During the first few years several different research laboratories around the world joined the Auto-ID Centre and in 2003 the Centre was replaced by Auto-ID Labs which is an international network of seven different research laboratories. One of its missions is to research and shape new technologies such as active tags and sensors[3].

Application Areas/Examples

Application Areas

The Internet is a technology for enabling and enhancing communication so all application areas are potentially viable. The most prominent differences between present day Internet and Future Internet are that where the current Internet enables mostly communication between people and is accessed through a limited range of devices, the FI will enable meaningful communication between people as well as between machines (Semantic Web) and through other additional objects (Internet of Things).

The Semantic Web along with cognitive networks means a more “intelligent” Internet (for a definition of these technologies, see the section on ‘Definitions’) and it will be potentially seen in all application areas. Horrocks (2007) mentions that the first steps towards the Semantic Web have already been taken in many application areas including biology, medicine, geography, astronomy, agriculture and defence.

In IoT the most discussed areas are logistics, retail, healthcare, public services, security and military. The ITU 2005 report mentions smart homes, smart vehicles, personal robotics and wearable computing as some of the leading areas for the development of “smart things”. Miniaturisation of technology will enable smaller and smaller objects to interact and connect to the network allowing objects as small as “smart dust” to be created (ITU 2005).

The development of IoT is considered to be at a critical point at the moment. In 2005 there were 1.3 billion RFID tags worldwide (From RFID to the Internet of Things 2006) but in 2006 RFID was still mainly used in logistics. Today, however, it is more and more used in Internet and mobile Internet applications (IoT 2009).

Application Examples

The majority of the following examples are related to the Internet of Things and Semantic Web because they are two of the most prominent and distinguishing features of FI and enable new kinds of services that were not possible before (IoT 2009). The possibility of merging information coming from the physical environment (using sensor technologies) with information from the virtual world in an intelligent way is the key enabler of new services and applications. Different network types like cognitive, virtual or context-aware networks are a part of FI that enable any applications, whether they are novel or traditional, to work better, faster, with more intelligence and fewer errors. Among the application examples there are also a few related to the application of these network technologies.

The main technology used in IoT is RFID. There are already many applications using it because the technology itself is simple and the use of RFID tags is inexpensive. Examples of these applications are travelcard systems in public transportation in many cities worldwide, passports, asset tracking in logistics, self check-out in libraries, payment systems for toll roads and cattle identification. Currently the applications are restricted to mostly industrial and entrepreneurial fields with few applications for consumers because of the lack of NFC[4] enabled devices for consumers that are able to read the data in the tags. For taking advantage of the full potential of RFID technology in FI, all mobile devices such as mobile phones will need to have this technology integrated. The use of semantics on the other hand helps in producing meaningful information from the scattered sources which would be extremely laborious and time-consuming if done manually.

Here are some examples of possible future applications classified under different application areas:

i. Asset management

·“Electronic tagging and remote sensing tracks the location of baggage in an airport, or of goods in a factory production process.” (From RFID to the Internet of Things 2006, p. 6).

·Community-based lost and found service where a person who finds a lost tagged item can on the spot report it to the owner with their tag reading device such as a mobile phone. Furthermore, the application takes advantage of a network of readers both installed statically (e.g. in stores) and in mobile devices. Whenever such a reader is in the vicinity of the lost object, it can autonomously report it to the owner providing information about the location of the object (Guinard et al. 2009).

ii. Healthcare

·“Blood pressure and heart rate sensors relay regular readings from a patient’s home to a monitoring centre. A computer detects adverse movements and signals a doctor to review the patient’s case.” (From RFID to the Internet of Things 2006, p. 6).

·A personal “Blackbox life recorder” that provides information on the person’s lifestyle and hidden pathology and according to which medication and treatment can be personalised to respond the patient’s exact needs. The Blackbox works also as a memory aid providing information of the person’s whole life’s data (Future Internet 2020, 2009).

·An electronic prescription writer that can interact with many different health care systems in constructing the most suitable prescription and that checks from different databases whether the drug can have negative effects with other drugs the patient is using, what the appropriate dose is and whether there are cheaper alternatives for the prescribed drug (Puustjärvi & Puustjärvi 2006).

iii. Environment monitoring

·“A network of sensors monitors river heights and rainfall, predicting floods and supporting water management measures for flood relief.” (From RFID to the Internet of Things 2006, p. 6).

·Biodegradable smart dust that is sprayed on the ground and that detects the condition of snow on a skiing slope (Future Internet 2020, 2009).

iv. Office applications and software

·An automated room booking application that identifies a group of people entering a meeting room and after confirming that the room is free autonomously makes a reservation for the room and sends an entry to the calendars of each person in the room. (Ravindranath 2008).

·Networks that are able to identify errors happening in applications and understand what caused them by monitoring the applications and either communicate the information to the user or take action to repair the error autonomously. The networks are also able to learn over time the normal behaviour in different situations and are able to make more accurate evaluations later. (Clark et al. 2003).

v. Information management

·Search engines that can combine information retrieved from different sources and that can recognise properties of various kinds of data, not only text. Such an engine could answer for example to the following complex question in a future eBay website: “find me only used, red Priuses for sale for less than $14,000 by people who are within 80 miles of my house and make them an offer.” (Feigenbaum et al. 2007).

vi. Retail

·Clothes shop that signals with LED lights the clothes on the racks that fit the customer as s/he is approaching the clothes. Personalised discounts can also be displayed this way using different coloured LEDs. The dressing room has a mirror-like screen that recognises the customer and virtually displays the clothes on him/her. The screen can also display items from other stores and it is possible to connect to a distant friend who can see the outfit on their own display and give comments. (Future Internet 2020, 2009).

·Deep product information, price comparison, political shopping, product rating, perishable good that tells its quality status. (Fleisch 2010).

vii. Security

·Cognitive networks can be used to enhance security of applications in different ways such as access control, tunnelling, trust management or intrusion detection. They can analyse processes in the network and find patterns and risks to which they can react and change security mechanisms accordingly. (Thomas et al. 2005).

vii. Services

·Car owner can customise the features of the car such as performance limits. The features can also be changed easily according to needs and for example according to who is driving the car at a particular time or moment. The use is tracked, recorded and sent to the insurance company so that the insurance price can be adjusted to match real risks (Future Internet 2020, 2009).

·Software that is used as a service on the Internet rather than owned and physically installed in a specific computer.


·A big-screen 3D cinema display that allows the viewer to choose the viewing angle among different cameras in the filming set. In a Formula 1 race for example the viewer can choose the preferred driver’s viewpoint. The race data can be bought and recreated in a car racing game where the user can join the race with a rendered virtual car. (Future Internet 2020, 2009).

·Context-aware network application that dynamically adapts multimedia services according to the users’ context. Depending on the users’ device, the users’ preferences, the network conditions and the service provider adaptation policies, the network can adapt the quality of the streamed multimedia in case of network overflow. Users are also able to switch from one device to another one (Mathieu 2009).

x. Implants

·In addition to objects, RFID tags can be implanted in the human or animal body. RFID implants are already commonly used for identification of pets and production animals but human implants have not yet reached widespread use. One example of a human RFID implant in commercial use is offered by the Baja Beach Clubs in Barcelona and Rotterdam. (ITU 2005). This implant (VeriChip, a product of PositiveID Corp.[5]) works as customer identification and payment method in the bar.[6]

Definition and Defining Features


The Future Internet is a term describing all the research and development activities concerning the Internet. The World Wide Web (WWW) is a central concept of the original Internet. Fuchs et al. (2010) define WWW as a techno-social system where humans interact based on technological networks. FI is a network of networks that includes advances in the current Internet technologies related to performance, reliability, scalability, security and high level mobility among others. However, in addition to that, it extends the Internet to the physical world in ways that have not been possible before. Adding semantics will also enable better ways in organising and using the information in the networks which will add to the usability of FI.

As stated above, the two main concepts that distinguish FI from the current Internet are the Internet of Things and Semantic Web. According to the European commission the Internet of Things means: “Things having identities and virtual personalities operating in smart spaces using intelligent interfaces to connect and communicate within social, environmental, and user contexts.” (IoT 2009, p. 5). It means that any physical thing can become a computer that is connected to the Internet and to other things. IoT is formed by numerous different connections between PCs, human to human, human to thing and between things. This creates a self-configuring network that is much more complex and dynamic than the conventional Internet. Data about things is collected and processed with very small computers (mostly RFID tags) that are connected to more powerful computers through networks. Sensor technologies are used to detect changes in the physical environment of things, which further benefits data collection. The network becomes more powerful when intelligence can be embedded to things and processing power can be distributed more widely in the network.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines Semantic Web as a Web of data. The original Internet was designed as a web of documents but the amount of information in the networks has grown so much that better ways of retrieving and combining it are needed. Semantic Web is a “framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries”. The information can be integrated from various different sources and types of data and the type of the relationships between the pieces of data are defined to enable better and automatic interchange[7]. The technology does not necessarily show to the user, it manifests as an easier and quicker retrieval of data giving the impression that the computer understands the meanings of the content it manages.

Cognitive networks are another technology that will contribute to making a more intelligent Internet. They perceive current network conditions, and based on that they are able to plan, decide and act. Cognitive processes belong to “machine learning”. They use different mechanisms to remember previous interactions with the network and adapt future decisions according to that knowledge. This results in optimised performance (Thomas et al. 2005). Cognitive networks can also be called self-aware because they can configure, explain and repair themselves (Clark et al. 2003).

Defining Features

·Pervasiveness and ubiquity: Digital content and services will be all around us in not only ICT devices but in any physical objects too. Embedding computers to physical environment creates a link between physical and digital worlds.

·Network of networks: Internet of the Future connects networks of objects to the classic Internet. The result is a combination of different communication networks that are able to manage the complex communications of large amounts of information and enable new kinds of services (Future Internet 2020, 2009). As the structure of the Internet becomes more complex and vulnerable to security threats, according to some views, governments and corporations are inclined to create separated spaces, “walled gardens” inside the Internet. (Quitney Anderson et al. 2008).

·Interoperability and Accessibility: Devices and objects are networked and work seamlessly together. Interoperability is implemented also in the level of network architecture making the communication between services and applications also more fluent. Services and content can be accessed anywhere, anytime and with many different devices. Mobile devices will dominate globally as access points to the Internet. This is the case especially in developing countries where mobile devices are an affordable solution for the lack of built-in network infrastructure. (Quitney Anderson et al. 2008).

·Miniaturisation with simplification: In IoT the computers at the end nodes of the Internet are small to the point of being even invisible to the eye when embedded in the environment. The purpose of this kind of miniaturisation is not necessarily to include the capacity of a full-blown computer in an ever smaller scale device but to include only those functionalities that are relevant and necessary in the particular environment and context of use. They are inexpensive and have low energy consumption and feature few functions like sensing, storing and communicating a limited amount of information and they normally need to be accessed with another device such as a mobile phone. (Fleisch, 2010).

·Context-awareness: FI will be able to recognise different contexts by using different sensor technologies. On the physical level sensors gather information from the physical environment and on the digital level they gather information about the network and applications. When that information is combined with other input data the network and applications are able to dynamically adapt to optimal processes at any actual moment.

·Autonomy: Input of information in the FI does not have to be made by humans only. Machines will interact more and more with each other becoming more predominant than human centric interaction. In IoT, sensors and actuators that are embedded in the environment can collect data autonomously and transmit it to each other and the network (Bauer et al. 2009). In Semantic Web automatic processes can produce information combined from separate sources.

·Virtualisation of resources: Virtualisation enables better exploitation of network resources with higher flexibility and security. (Abramowicz et al. 2009).

·Semantics: Semantics are an important part of FI. By the use of semantic annotations linked to the information in the web locating information will become much easier, faster and more accurate. (Horrocks, 2007).

Time Line

Most of the recent visions and scenarios of FI are aimed around the year 2020.

1969–The development of ARPANET, the predecessor of Internet.

1972–The first email program

1973–The first US patent for an active RFID tag with rewritable memory. (

1974–The first attested use of the term “internet” by Network Working Group (Wikipedia: History of the Internet)

1983–Activation of the TCP/IP that became the standard protocol for Internet.

1989–Invention of World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN.

2009–20% Internet penetration worldwide (Hausheer et al. 2009)

2015–30% Internet penetration worldwide (ibid.)

2020–50% Internet penetration worldwide (ibid.)

Mobile devices will be the primary connection tool to the Internet worldwide.

Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces will be commonplace.

Virtual worlds, mirror worlds and augmented reality will be popular (Quitney Anderson 2008).

Relation to other Technologies

FI will make use of many other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence in semantic web, virtual and augmented reality in the user interfaces and even neuroelectronics in more far-reaching scenarios with thought controlled interfaces. Cloud computing will be important in the Internet of Services. RFID and sensor technologies will also be key components of FI in IoT and in human-machine symbiosis as implantable or wearable technologies that can collect information about the person and their body and send it to the network. Networking of and interoperability between these different technologies creates the Future Internet.

On the other hand FI and IoT are enabling technologies or infrastructures to application level solutions (e.g.  3D virtual environments) but they can also be handled as more general visions of future technologies (i.e. AmI).  IoT is handled in recent EU documents as enabling technological approach for Future Internet (see for example FP7, 2009).

Critical Issues

A clear majority of the sources identify security and privacy as the main critical issues concerning FI.


The divide in acceptance of monitoring and recording personal data may result in larger cultural divisions if such services are accepted only by a part of the population but imposed on everyone. This kind of way of living may create adverse reactions from many (Future Internet 2020, 2009).


The systems and their services should be trustworthy. This includes technical functioning, protection of personal data against attacks and theft, ensuring privacy and providing usable security management. Trustworthiness is in danger if these issues are not considered and taken care of from the beginning of the development but applied at the end as add-ons. (FP7, 2009).

IPR issues

60% of respondents in a survey of Internet experts in Quitney Anderson et al. (2008) did not believe that the problem with IP law and copyright protection will be solved by 2020 to enable effective content control.

Transparency and privacy

The experts in the survey alluded to in the previous paragraph had divided opinions about the effects of transparency of organisations and individuals. 45% of the respondents agreed that transparency will heighten individual integrity and forgiveness and 44% disagreed with it believing that it will make everyone more vulnerable. According to some views the concept of “privacy” will change and become scarce resulting in some people having multiple digital identities and the need for reputation maintenance and repair.


The openness and freedom of the Internet is enabling both favourable and unfavourable behaviours. It enables people with all kinds of ideologies and opinions to find like-minded partners and form communities. In this way it supports the richness and democracy of world views and cultures. However, it does not expect people to accept or tolerate any other views and may even accelerate fragmentation and reinforce prejudice which may enhance possibilities for conflicts. (Quitney Anderson et al. 2008).


Even though the Internet helps in many ways to reduce the carbon footprint for example in reduced need for travelling and optimising business processes, it consumes a lot of energy and takes a very material form in data centres and all different kinds of appliances that are used for going online. The Internet uses currently 3-5% of the global electricity supply and this is expected to grow exponentially as more and more people, especially in the large nations of Asia, are joining the network. Reducing the carbon footprint of the Internet while enabling its growth is a big challenge for research[8].


Academic publications

Abramowicz, H.; Baucke , S.; Johnsson , M.; Kind , M.; Niebert, N.; Ohlman, B.; Quittek, J.; Woesner, H. & Wuenstel, K. (2009): A Future Internet Embracing the Wireless World. In Tselentis, G. et al. (Eds.) Towards the Future Internet – A European Research Perspective. IOS Press, Amsterdam.

Bauer, M.; Gluhak, A.; Johansson, M.; Montagut, F.; Presser, M.; Stirbu, V. & Vercher, J. (2009): Towards an Architecture for a Real World Internet. In Tselentis, G. et al. (Eds.) Towards the Future Internet – A European Research Perspective. IOS Press, Amsterdam.

Clark, D.; Patridge, C.; Ramming, J.C. & Wroclawski, J. (2003): A Knowledge Plane for the Internet. SIGCOMM’03, August 25–29, 2003, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Fleisch, E. (2010): What is the Internet of Things? An Economic Perspective. Auto-ID Labs White Paper WP-BIZAPP-053. Retrieved on 28th May 2010, from

From RFID to the Internet of Things. Pervasive Networked Systems. Final report (2006). Conference organised by DG Information Society and Media. 6-7 March 2006, CCAB, Brussels.

Fuchs, C.; Hofkirchner, W.; Bichler, R.; Raffl, C.; Sandoval, M. & Schafranek, M. (2010): Theoretical Foundations of the Web: Cognition, Communication, and Co-Operation. Towards an Understanding of Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0. Future Internet 2010, 2, pp. 41-59.

FP7 Cooperation Work Programme: Information and Communication Technologies (2009). UPDATED WORK PROGRAMME 2009 AND WORK PROGRAMME 2010. Retrieved on 28th May 2010, from

Guinard, D.; Baecker, O. & Michahelles, F. (2009): Supporting a Mobile Lost and Found Community. Auto-ID Labs White Paper WP-BIZAPP-050. Retrieved on 9th 2010, from

Hausheer, D.; Nikander, P.; Fogliati, V.; Wünstel, K.; Callejo, M.A.; Jorba, S. R.; Spirou, S.; Ladid, L.; Kleinwächter, W.; Stiller, B.; Behrmann, M.; Boniface, M.; Courcoubetis, C. & Li, M-S. (2009): Future Internet Socio-Economics – Challenges and Perspectives. In Tselentis, G. et al. (Eds.) Towards the Future Internet – A European Research Perspective. IOS Press, Amsterdam.

Horrocks, I. (2007): Semantic Web: The Story So Far. W4A2007 Keynote, May 07–08, 2007, Banff, Canada.

Mathieu, B. (2009): A Context-Aware Network Equipment for Dynamic Adaptation of Multimedia Services in Wireless Networks. In Wireless Personal Communications, volume 48, Number 1 / January, 2009, pp. 69 – 92.

Puustjärvi, J. & Puustjärvi, L. (2006): Improving the Quality of Medication by Semantic Web Technologies. In Hyvönen, E. et al. (Eds.) New Developments in Artificial Intelligence and the Semantic Web. Proceedings of the 12th Finnish Artificial Intelligence Conference STeP 2006, Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland, October 26-27, 2006.

Quitney Anderson, J. & Rainie, L. (2008): The Future of the Internet III. Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Ravindranath, L.; Padmanabhan, V. N. & Agrawal, P. (2008): SixthSense: RFID-based Enterprise Intelligence. MobiSys’08, June 17-20, 2008, Breckenridge, Colorado, U.S.A.

Rubina, J. (2009): Challenges of Internet Evolution: Attitude and Technology. In Tselentis, G. et al. (Eds.) Towards the Future Internet – A European Research Perspective. IOS Press, Amsterdam.

Thomas, R.W.; DaSilva, R.A. & MacKenzie, A.B. (2005): Cognitive Networks. In Proceedings of the First IEEE International Symposium on New Frontiers in Dynamic Spectrum Access Networks, Baltimore, MD, USA, November 8–11, 2005, pp. 352 – 360.

Governmental/regulatory sources

Future Internet 2020. (2009) Call for action by a high level visionary panel. May 2009. Retrieved on 28th May 2010, from

IoT: an early reality of the Future Internet (2009). Workshop report. European Commission, Information Society and Media. Retrieved on 28th May 2010, from

ITU Internet Reports 2005: Internet of Things (2005). Executive summary. Retrieved on 28th May 2010, from

ITU-T Technology Watch Report 10 (2009): The Future Internet. International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 28th May 2010, from

Websites Accessed on 22nd June 2010. Accessed on 22nd June 2010. Accessed on 22nd June 2010. Accessed on 8th July 2010. Accessed on 22nd June 2010. Accessed on 22nd June 2010.

Other sources

Feigenbaum, L.; Herman, I.; Hongsermeier, T.; Neumann, E. & Stephens, S. (2007): The Semantic Web in Action. Scientific American, vol. 297, Dec. 2007, pp. 90-97.

ITU ICT Statistics (2000): Accessed on 22nd June 2010.

Schuster, E. W. (2004): Auto-ID and The Data Centre: Creating an Intelligent Infrastructure for Business. Auto-ID Labs, MIT. Retrieved on 15th June 2010, from

Zakon, R. H. (2010, January 1): Hobbes’ Internet Timeline 10. Retrieved on 15th June 2010, from


[1]Later renamed as Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

[2]RFID= Radio Frequency Identification. A technology that is using radio waves to transmit the identity of an object or person by the use of radio waves. This technology is applied in small paper-thin tags or chips that can be embedded in or attached on objects, humans or animals. The development of the technology started already during the Second World War. (


[4] NFC= Near Field Communication. A technology used for reading RFID tags.


[6] See the following as an example of this trend:



Posted in Information and communication technology 13 years, 3 months ago at 16:12.

Add a comment

Previous Post:   Next Post:

No Replies

Feel free to leave a reply using the form below!

Leave a Reply