What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Introduction

In 2021, almost all aspects of our lives are touched by technology. With the help of technology, not only are we able to communicate with each other, but it has also made it possible for us to connect with our devices. All these advancements can be attributed to Internet of Things or IoT.

In the coming times, IoT will continue to affect us in unprecedented ways, by changing the way we currently run our homes and businesses.

Having been popular for less than a decade, the term Internet of Things is gaining a lot of popularity in the current age of data. However, we can foresee that it is not just a fad, but is here to stay! But what exactly is the Internet of Things? Let’s find out!

What is the Internet of Things?

According to Oracle, ‘The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects-“things”- that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.’

In simple terms, the Internet of Things basically means taking all the machines in the world, previously dumb objects, and connecting them to the Internet in order for them to transmit data, monitor the data and perform tasks on the basis of the data.

Image Source: Internet For All

How Does the Internet of Things Work?

The basic task of the smart devices powered by the Internet of Things is to gather data and transmit it over the network it is connected to or to perform a certain action on the basis of the data. There are three major steps in which the IoT devices work, and they can be explained with the help of the figure below.

Image Source: Network World

Since each IoT is connected to the internet, they need to have a unique IP address. The IoT device collects the data and transmits it to a gathering point (generally a data centre), through either wired or wireless mediums, which provides a storage and computing capabilities.

The processing of the data can take place in either the data centres or the cloud depending upon the capability of the network. This process data is then broadcasted over the same network to either other devices on the network or back to the IoT device along with instructions to perform some actions based on the data that was initially sent by the IoT device.

With the recent advancement in technology, there have been many advancements made to this simple model on a case to case basis. For instance, internet can be replaced by any other local network for transmission of the data in case the network doesn’t want to be dependent on the internet capabilities.

Some other IoT networks might have multiple data centres or cloud or an aggregated setting to provide faster decision-making capabilities. The bottom line is, how IoT works is constantly evolving and you should keep yourself abreast with the latest advancements in order to leverage the maximum potential of the Internet of Things.

blog banner 1

How Big is Internet of Things?

According to the recent report by Priceonomics, the number of IoT devices soared to more than 50 billion in 2020. Over the recent years, it has become one of the most important technologies, connecting everyday objects like cars, kitchen appliances, health monitors, etc. to the Internet. The reducing costs of computing, cloud and big data further help to increase the grasp of IoT as a technology.

What Drives Internet of Things?

While the Internet of Things has been in existence for quite some time now, as a technology, it relies on many other technologies that make it practical. The three main driving factors behind the popularity of the Internet of Things are:

1. Internet of Things Driver #1: Decreasing Cost of Hardwares

IoT relies on data accumulated through the sensors and the reducing costs of reliable sensors is making IoT more easily penetrable in many industries, especially the manufacturing industry.

2. Internet of Things Driver #2: Better Connectivity

IoT devices relay information over a network. A wide range of network protocols is making connecting an IoT device faster and more efficient.

3. Internet of Things Driver #3: Better Softwares

The increase in IoT devices is because of the capabilities they provide, like automating tasks on the basis of data, which is ever increasing with the help of cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and analytics. 

Various Industries & the Internet of Things

While almost all industries use the Internet of Things to advance their technological capabilities, some of them benefit more from the use of sensor devices than others. Some of the industries which use IoT the most are:

Industry #1: Manufacturing

Since manufacturers have a huge production line, they use sensors to automate the process of ensuring that all the equipments are functioning as expected and there is no failure in the production line. This is made possible with the help of sensors, which give an alert in case of any failure, allowing the manufacturers to reduce operating costs and improve the asset performance management.

Industry #2: Automotive

In addition to applying IoT to production lines, the automotive industry is using sensors embedded in the car to inform the driver about any impeding failure. Some IoT applications go a step further to recommend you a list of mechanics close to you whenever an alert is triggered by the car’s sensor.

Industry #3: Transportation and Logistics

Transportation fleets are equipped with sensors to track the real-time location of the fleet. Logistics which involve temperature sensitive items, like vaccinations, beverages, frozen food, etc. are also equipped with temperature-control monitoring sensors which give an alert when the temperature moves out of the regulated zone.

Industry #4: Healthcare

The healthcare industry uses IoT to solve the most critical problems and save human lives. Many patients are equipped with wearable health monitors which send an alert to either remind the patient to take the medicines or the doctors to get alerted whenever vitals fall out of the regulatory zone.

Image Source: IoT Now

Frequently Asked Questions

How is IoT different from Internet?

Internet is a very comprehensive term that includes the interconnectivity between various technologies, processes and people, whereas the internet of things just focuses on the interconnection between the physical objects and data input and output.

Can IoT devices work without the Internet?

Technically, not all IoT devices need the Internet to work. However, what all IoT devices do need is a connection to a network over which these IoT devices can communicate with other gadgets or receive commands.

What is the purpose of the Internet of Things?

The purpose of the Internet of Things is to connect devices over a network so that these devices can interact with other devices over the network in near real-time to perform tasks without any human intervention.

What are examples of IoT devices?

In today’s age, we are surrounded by IoT devices. Commonly used IoT devices which you can find around you are wearable health monitors, RFIDs, smart cars, connected appliances, virtual assistants, etc.

Why is it called the Internet of Things?

The term Internet of Things was coined since it helps expands the capability of the internet to interconnect a thing with a whole range of other things on the network.

Key Takeaways

We would like to end this blog with the help of the figure below which shows how in the current time, we are leveraging the capabilities of the Internet of Things.

To encapsulate, IoT sensors are transforming the previously dumb cities into smart cities, which are cleaner, safer and more efficient, with the help of sensors. There is so much to IoT than just efficiency. It helps us to automate mundane tasks, prevent irrational expenditures, mitigate factory line risks, and the list goes on.

In the coming years, IoT will definitely transform the way we live, work and move around in our respective environments and we are excitedly looking forward to welcoming the positive change.

By Saarthak Jain