What Is IoT?
A Simple Explanation of the Internet of Things
We all know that IoT is changing industries across the board. But what is IoT, exactly?
The Internet of Things (IoT) can be defined as a network of physical objects or people called “things” that are embedded with software, electronics, network, and sensors which allows these objects to collect and exchange data.
The goal of IoT is to extend to internet connectivity from standard devices like computer, or tablet to relatively dumb devices like a toaster. IoT makes virtually everything “smart”. It improves aspects of our life with the power of data collection, AI algorithms, and networks.
How does the Internet of Things actually work?
Remember, the Internet of Things consists of ordinary devices that can connect to the internet and communicate with each other over the cloud. Generally, that means adding special sensors to ordinary items like washing machines, heating systems, refrigerators, watches, or almost anything else.
Some devices use these sensors to collect information and report it back. The first-ever IoT device mentioned above, a vending machine, used sensors to monitor its inventory and make that information available to the owner.
Other devices can receive information and then perform an action. For example, smart door locks receive a signal that you want them to open then follow through by doing so.
The most sophisticated — and generally, most useful — IoT devices can do both. In industrial IoT, this could be a factory monitoring machinery components for possible malfunctions. In home-based IoT, this could be your smart thermostat, which collects information about your temperature preferences and habits.
Smart technology helps things work better — more efficiently and with more synchronicity.
Most home IoT gadgets use your router to connect to a larger smart home. It allows you to use voice-activated commands or your smartphone to control many functions of your home to save time, energy, or both.
Commercially, IoT tech helps companies monitor and manage their factories, supply chains, and more. Sensors can also be added to a given part of some large-scale machinery, such as the drill of an oil rig, which can help improve production and safety.
Why IoT Matters
When something is connected to the internet, that means that it can send or receive information. This ability to send and/or receive information makes things smart, and smart is good.
Let’s use smartphones (smartphones) again as an example. Right now you can listen to just about any song in the world, but it’s not because your phone actually has every song in the world stored on it.
How do IoT devices connect to each other?
IoT allows web-enabled devices to connect to each other and act on data that are sent between them. Devices use the cloud to communicate, connecting over the internet using Wi-Fi, a cellular connection (3G or 4G), or Bluetooth.
Soon, 5G will engender even more futuristic possibilities like driverless cars, and more advances that currently sound like a sci-fi movie.
The benefits of IoT
Why do we need the Internet of Things? Well, Aside from the cool factor of having smart and shiny devices, IoT brings a host of benefits to home and commercial settings.
Firstly, having smart sensors in your devices can improve convenience and efficiency. For example, smart lights or a smart thermostat can automatically turn off when you’re not at home to cut down on consumption and thus costs. When you have all of your devices linked together in a smart home, you’ll collect data on your habits and usage. Sometimes even just seeing statistics about your consumption can be eye-opening and shed light on what changes you can make.
Looking ahead, we’ll soon see even larger-scale applications of IoT tech with smart cities. As mentioned, 5G will really kick it up a notch — mainly due to its monstrously increased speed and vastly.
IoT could also be hugely beneficial in monitoring and reacting to environmental conditions. We could vastly improve things like forest fire detection, crop growing, and controlling emissions to help with air pollution.
Conversations about the IoT are (and have been for several years) taking place all over the world as we seek to understand how this will impact our lives. As more and more devices begin to join the IoT, we are also attempting to comprehend the potential and difficulties that may arise.
The best thing we can do right now is educate ourselves on the IoT and its potential effects on how we live and work.