All across the globe, people are connecting to the Internet to access information, communicate with other people, and do business. But it’s not just people that are using the Internet: objects use it too. IoT. Internet of Things. You’ve heard it at some point. Everyone is talking about it. It’s going to change the world! The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming an increasing topic of interest among technology giants and business communities. But you might be scratching your head figuring out what it is or what it means?
It’s a concept that not only has the potential to impact how we live but also how we work. Say your car have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take for your upcoming meeting? If the traffic is heavy the car might send a text to others notifying them that you will be late. There are more than 12 billion connected devices in the world, smart ‘things’. Innovative companies are adopting IoT strategy and technology to rethink their products and services and redefine their relationships with customers, employees and partners.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet started with a simple idea – connecting computers together to share data in various ways. Since that humble beginning, people have started to connect more devices to the Internet. That’s the basis of the term Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things extends internet connectivity beyond traditional devices like desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and tablets to an ever-growing network of everyday things that utilize embedded technology to communicate and interact with the external environment, all via the Internet. It’s the inter-networking of physical devices (“connected devices” and “smart devices”) that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
Internet of things devices
The ‘thing’ in Internet of Things (IoT) could be any object that contains the required computing power & connectivity to the Internet and have the ability to collect and transfer data over a network without manual assistance or intervention. The embedded technology in the objects helps them to interact with internal states or the external environment, which in turn affects the decisions taken.
Internet of things applications
The ability to network embedded devices with limited CPU, memory and power resources means that Internet of Things (IoT) finds applications in nearly every field. Few examples,
- Home automation (also known as smart home devices) such as the control and automation of lighting, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), robotic vacuums, air purifiers, ovens or refrigerators that use Wi-Fi for remote monitoring.
- Wearable technology which includes smart watches, fitness trackers, VR headsets and more…
- Environment: IoT application technologies that have sensors can be used to monitor air and water quality, soil or atmospheric conditions, and even the movements of wildlife. The IoT devices can also be used in applications such as tsunami early-warning systems to enable authorities to offer more effective responses and aid.
- Utilities doing real time grid assessment from devices sitting on the grid
- Logistics firms designing real-time visibility into location and condition of assets
- Infrastructure: The IoT can also be applied to monitor and control operations of urban and rural infrastructure such as bridges and railway tracks. IoT can help to schedule repair and maintenance activities in a well-organized manner.
- Manufacturers predicting when equipment will need maintenance
- Insurers increasing revenue through asset monitoring
- Medical and Healthcare: IoT devices can facilitate remote health monitoring and emergency notification systems such as blood pressure and heart rate monitors.
- Retail: Retailers creating more personalized in-store shopping experiences
- Banks providing better offers and more engagement via tellers and ATMs
However, the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) is not only restricted to these areas. Other specialized use cases of the IoT may also exist. Based on the application domain, IoT products can be classified broadly into five different categories: smart wearable, smart home, smart city, smart environment, and smart enterprise.
Understanding how IoT works
It isn’t possible to simply connect a device to the Internet and have it suddenly start communicating with other devices. The Internet of Things (IoT) requires that you have the basic pieces in place.
- Hardware: A device must have the required hardware in order to communicate with the Internet.
- Protocols: A protocol is simply a set of rules. In this case, the rules determine how communications between two devices occur. Examples of protocols used for IoT include SOAP and REST, plus the underlying protocols, such as HTTP.
- Domains: When working in the cloud, it’s still necessary to have a place to store information of various sorts and to provide device access points.
- Applications: The software used to actually cause the interaction between devices determines what functionality the devices ultimately provide (within their range of possible actions). Before a device can perform any tasks at all, you must have software that knows how to interact with the device.
According to Gartner, Inc. (a technology research and advisory corporation), there will be nearly 20.8 billion devices on the Internet of things by 2020. ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wireless connected to the Internet of things by 2020. As such, it is clear that the IoT will consist of a very large number of devices being connected to the Internet. Typically, Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications.
Some of the top IoT platforms in the market today:
- Amazon Web Services
- Microsoft Azure
- ThingWorx IoT Platform
- IBM’s Watson
- Cisco IoT Cloud Connect
- Salesforce IoT Cloud
- Oracle Integrated Cloud
- GE Predix.
“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things – using data they gathered without any help from us – we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. We need to empower computers with their own means of gathering information, so they can see, hear and smell the world for themselves, in all its random glory.” Kevin Ashton published in the RFID Journal in 1999.
- 1982: The concept of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first Internet-connected appliance, able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold.
- 1993 – 1996: Several companies proposed solutions like Microsoft’s at Work or Novell’s NEST. However, only in 1999 did the field start gathering momentum. Bill Joy envisioned Device to Device (D2D) communication as part of his “Six Webs” framework, presented at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 1999.
- 1999: The concept of the Internet of Things became popular in 1999, through the Auto-ID Center at MIT and related market-analysis publications. The term “the Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton of Procter & Gamble, later MIT’s Auto-ID Center, in 1999. Besides using RFID, the tagging of things may be achieved through technologies such as RFID, Near Field Communication, Barcodes, QR codes and Digital watermarking.
IoT Opportunities | When everything talks 🙂
Internet of Things (IoT) offers endless opportunities for business and society. It is a concept that has the power to change the way we live and work. The vision of the Internet of Things has evolved due to a convergence of multiple technologies, including ubiquitous wireless communication, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems. Businesses who learn to harness the data created by the Internet of Things are the ones who will survive and thrive in the future.
IoT platforms can help organizations reduce cost through improved process efficiency, asset utilization and productivity, aided by the torrent of interaction and transaction data at their disposal. With improved tracking of devices/objects using sensors and connectivity, they can benefit from real-time insights and analytics, which would help them make smarter decisions.
The reality is that the Internet of Things (IoT) allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can’t even think of or fully understand the impact. By the time what we can do best is to educate ourselves on various IoT technologies and keep experimenting with the new trending technology.