November 23, 2021 Shankari Das

Internet of Things (IoT) Explained

In a nutshell, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept of connecting any device or “things” to the Internet and other connected devices in the network. In simple terms, the IoT is a giant network of connected things and people – all of which collect and share data about the environment around them.

Surprisingly, there are more than 7 billion connected IoT devices in the world today. Experts expect this figure to grow to 10 billion by the end of 2020 and 22 billion by 2025.


What is the Internet of Things or IoT?

There is a lot of discussion at the moment about the Internet of Things or IoT. Primarily because it impacts everything from the way we do our shopping and how we travel to the way manufacturers and producers keep track of their inventory.

But what is the Internet of Things? How does the Internet of Things work? And is it that important?

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is described as the network of physical objects or “things” that are embedded with software, sensors, and other technologies only for exchanging data.

Solely to exchange data with other systems and devices over the Internet. These devices can range from ordinary household objects to very sophisticated industrial applications.

These connected devices include an extraordinary number of objects of all sizes and shapes. These include smart microwaves, which automatically cook your food, to self-driving cars, whose complex sensors detect objects in their path.

IoT also includes wearable fitness devices that can measure your heart rate and the number of steps you have taken on a particular day. IoT then uses this information to suggest exercise plans tailored to your health and fitness. Today there are even connected footballs that can track how far and fast they are thrown. This user data and statistics is then recorded via an app for future training purposes.

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Why is the Internet of Things (IoT) so important?

Over the past few years, the Internet of Things has become one of the most critical technologies of the 21st century. We can easily connect everyday objects, be it kitchen appliances, cars, baby monitors, thermostats, to the Internet. They are all connected via embedded devices allowing seamless communication between people, processes, and things.

With the help of low-cost computing, big data, the cloud, analytics, and mobile technologies, we can easily connect physical things. It allows data to be shared and collected with minimal human intervention. In today’s hyperconnected world, digital systems can monitor, record, and adjust each interaction between connected things. In simple terms, the physical world meets the digital world!


How Does the Internet of Things or IoT Devices Work?

Smartphones play a significant role in the IoT, probably because you can control many IoT devices through an app on your smartphone. You can use your mobile phone to communicate with your smart thermostat.

For example, you can use your mobile phone to deliver the perfect temperature for your room by the time you get home from work. Another benefit? The process can eliminate unnecessary heating or cooling while away, potentially saving you money on energy costs.

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All the above processes are possible only through the Internet of Things. All IoT devices contain sensors and mini-computer processors that act on the data collected by the sensors via machine learning.
Essentially, your IoT devices are mini-computers, which are connected to the Internet. As a result, these devices are vulnerable to malware and hacking.

By collecting data from their surroundings, IoT devices become smart. This data can help the machine know your preferences and adjust itself accordingly. In simple terms, machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that can help the computer understand without being programmed by someone.


Internet of Things or IoT in Real Life

The Internet of Things or IoT is rapidly transforming how we live our daily lives and our business. Sensor technologies in combination with real-time data acquisition and analysis can make tracking very simple.

When used appropriately, IoT data gives us the ability to improve efficiency, streamline our business processes, automate tasks, better our health and safety, and many more.

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Below are the best examples of how IoT impacts our daily lives, at home and work.

1 Home Security

The IoT is the key driver behind a wholly secure and smart home. IoT can connect a variety of sensors, cameras, alarms, lights, and microphones to provide round-the-clock security. You can control the complete system from a smartphone.

For example, the ring doorbell camera security system will allow you to see, hear, and speak to your visitors at the door via a computer or mobile phone.

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2 Activity Trackers

These sensor devices are designed such that you need to wear them during the day to monitor and transmit key health indicators in real-time. These data can be in the form of fatigue, appetite, oxygen levels, physical movement, blood pressure, and other health-related parameters.

Using these health monitoring trackers can reduce the number of emergency doctor or hospital visits and help disabled or elderly people live more independent lives.

3 Smart Farming

Smart farming is considered a high-tech endeavor these days. An increasing number of modern farmers are using IoT-enabled devices to monitor weather, soil moisture levels, soil composition, crop health and growth, and even livestock activity.

These agricultural data can also be analyzed to determine the best time to harvest crops and create fertilizer profiles and schedules. Agriculture drones can also be used to collect photos and atmospheric data.

4 Motion Detection

Today sensors can detect motion or vibration in large-scale structures such as bridges, buildings, and dams and identify the small patterns and disturbances that could lead to catastrophic failures. Networks of such types of detectors are used in areas susceptible to landslides, earthquakes, and avalanches.

5 Industrial Security and Safety

Cameras and sensors can monitor the perimeter of restricted areas and detect trespassers, particularly in non-authorized areas. Similarly, sensors can also be used to detect small leaks of hazardous chemicals or check pressure build-ups. Thus helping to identify and fix issues before they become serious problems.

In addition, identifying and fixing leakages of fluids would reduce corrosion and minimize maintenance costs. Several IoT-enabled detection systems are also used extensively to monitor nuclear facilities, chemical factories, and mining operations.


Business Benefits of Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things is designed to make our lives more convenient. The anticipated benefits of IoT are widely popular. But what is today’s reality? What are the real business benefits of IoT you can take advantage of now?

The Internet of Things employs numerous technologies only to ensure automatic data transfer, analysis, and response between multiple devices.

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In recent years, IoT advantages, innovations, and applications have been a regular topic in the mass media. The whole concept of connecting millions of appliances within a global network is about three decades old.

It is indeed true that IoT has to use several technologies to achieve such results. For example, automation is impossible without Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Big Data. In contrast, connectivity between IoT devices is greatly facilitated by cloud computing and wireless communication technologies.

These features result in numerous advantages of IoT technologies and services. However, it is worth noting that the IoT benefits for businesses are numerous. Moreover, all these advantages are interconnected, to the point when one leads to another, thus causing a chain reaction of positive effects.

Here are a few examples:

1 Improved productivity of staff and reduced human labor

Thanks to IoT solutions, you can get tedious, monotonous tasks done automatically. Thus minimizing the number of workers, which results in reduced costs of business operation.

2 Efficient operation management

Another significant benefit of smart devices is automated control over multiple operation areas. One good example, this approach involves using RFID tags and a corresponding sensor to track the location of equipment, animals, and goods.

3 Cost-effective operation

Due to the reduced downtime periods, you can enjoy a higher production rate resulting in bigger profits. Again, IoT devices greatly facilitate management within individual departments and across the whole enterprise structure.


Key Components of Internet of Things or IoT

A complete IoT system primarily integrates four distinct components. These include sensors/devices, connectivity, data processing, and a user interface.

Implementing this concept will not be an easy task for many reasons, including the complex nature of the different components of the ecosystem of IoT.

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Here we take a look at each of the components and briefly explain each component and what it does.

1 Sensor/Devices

The first layers are sensors or devices that collect data from their environment. These could be as simple as a temperature reading instrument or as complex as a full video feed.

You can use multiple sensors that can be bundled together, or sensors can be part of a device that does more than just sense things. For example, your smartphone is a device with multiple sensors like a camera, GPS, and accelerometer. Whatever kind of sensor be it, in this first step, data is being collected from the environment by something.

2 Connectivity

The date collected from the sensors is sent to the cloud, but it needs a way to get there. The sensors/devices can be connected to the cloud through a variety of methods which primarily include: satellite, cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, and other networks.

Each option has tradeoffs between power consumption, range, and bandwidth. Choosing the best connectivity option comes down to the specific IoT application, but they all try to accomplish the same task – getting data to the cloud.

3 Data Processing

Once the data reaches the cloud, the software will perform some processing on it.
This processing could be very simple, like checking the temperature reading. It checks whether it is within an acceptable range. Or it could also be very complex processing of the data.

4 User Interface

Next, the processed information is made useful to the end-user in one way or the other. This could be via an alert to the user like an email, text, or notification. For example, a text alert when the temperature is too low or high in the company’s cold storage.
In such a scenario, the user might remotely adjust the temperature in the cold storage using an app on their phone.

Future of the Internet of Things

It is no longer science fiction. We are living connected lives full of internet-enabled devices that learn our preferences and provide us with the experiences we want. Thus IoT makes our lives more convenient. And the technology that makes it possible to connect our lives is the Internet of Things.

The concept started in the early 1980s when Carnegie Mellon University students were the first to develop the internet-connected device. It was the commonly used Coke vending machine we use today. They designed the machine to tell the programmers if the soda was cold enough to make the coffee.

Since then, the IoT has exploded. What about its future? IoT Devices are growing smarter and smaller. Eventually, everything from your house to your toaster may be connected to the Internet.

Remember, the opportunities that come with the Internet of Things are enormous. It can be game-changing for virtually any business or organization, especially those embarking on a digital shift. If you are thinking about actively implementing IoT solutions, log in to our website.

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