Tag Archives: ipv4

IPv6, Twitter, and leaving the lights on

Saw this video whilst scanning through anecdotes of Twitter’s uptime on its blog.

Control Lights with Twitter from Justin Wickett on Vimeo.

Interesting not because I think its a particularly useful application of Twitter to turn lights on and off, but because of the growing chatter around ‘IPv6’, a technology protocol understood by few people outside the networking but that will come to have more relevance as the Internet carries on its ongoing march.

Essentially, every Internet connected device there is has a unique address. In your case, it may be your broadband modem, and every other machine connected to that shares that IP address. This IP address under the protocol we currently use, IPv4, is a unique identifier of that device and takes the form of four three digit numbers separated by full stops. For example, The upper limit on each three digit number is 255, I think due to some relationship between the way the protocol works and hexadecimal base.

What’s happening thanks to cheaper and cheaper technology allowing connectivity, more and more advanced devices supporting connectivity and the general all-around goodness of Broadband is that people have more and more devices they’d like to enable as unique devices on the Internet. You might already monitor an IP CCTV camera remotely, or login to Slingbox, or want to use Twitter to turn your bedroom lights or oven off.

Gradually, as these requirements grow we’ll use up the 4.3 or so billion addresses IPv4 allows and we’ll really need everything to switch up to IPv6 – which supports trillions. There’s been limited imperative to move over to IPv6 in the past as people genuinely haven’t been able to understand why they would every need more than 4.3 billion addresses. Well, the maths has gotten a little bit easier to understand thanks to growing ‘net penetration and an understanding of how we can use the net in different ways that makes things like giving a light bulb an IP address useful.

Which is pretty cool, from where I’m standing.

NB There’s absolutely no need for the light bulb in question here to have its own IP address, but it is the principle I’m talking about here, people. Sure, it’s just massive geeks doing this stuff now, but Facebook just had geeks on it for a while and look at it now…!