What exactly is Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT), also sometimes referred to as the Internet of Everything (IoE), consists of all the web-enabled devices that collect, send and act on data they acquire from their surrounding environments using embedded sensors, processors and communication hardware. These devices, often called “connected” or “smart” devices, can sometimes talk to other related devices, a process called machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, and act on the information they get from one another. Humans can interact with the gadgets to set them up, give them instructions or access the data, but the devices do most of the work on their own without human intervention. Their existence has been made possible by all the tiny mobile components that are available these days, as well as the always-online nature of our home and business networks.
Connected devices also generate massive amounts of Internet traffic, including loads of data that can be used to make the devices useful, but can also be mined for other purposes. All this new data, and the Internet-accessible nature of the devices, raises both privacy and security concerns.
But this technology allows for a level of real-time information that we’ve never had before. We can monitor our homes and families remotely to keep them safe. Businesses can improve processes to increase productivity and reduce material waste and unforeseen downtime. Sensors in city infrastructure can help reduce road congestion and warn us when infrastructure is in danger of crumbling. Gadgets out in the open can monitor for changing environmental conditions and warn us of impending disasters.
These devices are popping up everywhere, and these abilities can be used to enhance nearly any physical object.
Concrete Example of the Workings of IoT
One of the better-known examples is the Smart thermostat. This Wi-Fi-connected thermostat allows you to remotely adjust the temperature via your mobile device and also learns your behavioral patterns to create a temperature-setting schedule.
The potential value is that you can save money on your utility bill by being able to remotely turn off your air conditioner, which you forgot to do before leaving the house. There’s also a convenience factor. Nest can remember that you like to turn down the temperature before going to bed, and can automatically do that for you at a set time.
As the IoT category expands and the products become more sophisticated, one can envision a scenario where your fitness tracker detects that you’ve fallen asleep and then automatically turns off your TV and lights. Or, before hitting the road, your car could pull up your work calendar and automatically provide the best route to your meeting, or send a note to relevant parties if you’re running late.
On a broader scale, it is being used by cities to monitor things like the number of available parking spaces, air and water quality, and traffic.
In order for the Internet of Things to work smoothly and excellently, Smart Sensors are needed for the collection of real-time data, which would be sent to a central hub that allows different devices to connect to one another. Finally, there are cloud services, which enable the collection and analysis of data so people can see what’s going on and take action via their mobile apps.