When one mentions the Internet of Things, many people might ask, “What’s that?” The truth is, they probably know more about it than they first imagine. The Internet of Things is a concept that a lot of persons are familiar with. They use it when they go out for a run with their smartwatches, or when they schedule the sprinklers that water the front lawn, and in lots of other things. But what is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things Explained
The Internet of Things (IoT) definition is “things” such as gadgets, devices, and tools, which can collect, and exchange data with other devices over the internet.
Unlike the internet, the Internet of Things does not connect computer systems and users as we know it. It collects and sends data from everyday appliances such as the alarm system in your home, a smartwatch, or a smart brush, without human interference.
The Internet of Things is gadgets communicating with other gadgets and systems without a human agent’s help. These appliances are built-in with sensors, which can pick up data and information from their surroundings. In turn, the data picked up is sent over the internet to other devices or systems.
How Big Is It?
The Internet of Things technology is quite big already. An estimate by Cisco, a leading tech company, showed that the ratio of things: people using the internet leaped from 0.08 in 2003 to 1.84 in 2010. This leap means that there are more “things” than people using the internet.
With the growing market for IoT devices, more companies are investing in building IoT devices. According to Gartner, out of the 5.81 billion IoT devices in use in 2020, the utility sector accounts for 1.37 billion of them. And these numbers are expected to rise. Business Insider predicts that by 2027, there will be 41 billion IoT devices on the market.
History of The Internet of Things
What is the history of the Internet of Things? Different terms explain the idea of objects connected to the internet. However, in 1999, Kevin Ashton coined the phrase that stuck: the Internet of Things.
Long before then, there were already talks and ideas of equipping everyday objects with a basic intelligence level. However, due to the high costs of the chip implants required, the project seemed improbable at the time. With advancing technology, those large chips and processors have become smaller, affordable RFID tags, costing as low as $0.10.
One of the first applications of the IoT was in the use of Radio Frequency Identification Uses (RFID) tags. RFID tags tracked expensive items to prevent them from getting lost or stolen. These days, the IoT has advanced from just tracking luxury goods to various other uses. Smartwatches, smart homes, and Internet of Things smart cities now exist, thanks to advancements in technology.
How Does It Work?
Lots of devices use the IoT concept, but the basic working principles remain the same.
Objects or devices embedded with sensors/chips. These sensors monitor and collect data from the environment of the device. The data collected is then sent to the IoT platform. The IoT platform then analyses and sorts through the data to determine the most important. These share over the internet to other devices or systems connected with the IoT device.
Manufacturers and designers need this information to determine how well the devices are working and identify bugs in the system. This information helps improve the quality of service offered by the manufacturers over time.
What Is An Example of An Internet of Things Device?
Internet of Things applications vary, from smart homes to wearables. Any gadget could be an Internet of Things device, as long as they can connect over the internet. Phones and computers are generally not regarded as IoT devices, even though they can communicate and share information over the internet.
Internet of Things examples is smart TVs, smartwatches, smart meters, and even smart toys.
A smartwatch, for example, can do a lot more things than the traditional timepiece. By syncing with a smartphone, these watches can share information from your hand-held devices such as emails, meeting schedules, and many more.
Smartwatches can also track fitness. By collecting data through inbuilt sensors, they can keep track of heart rate, number of steps taken, etc.
As with most IoT devices, the basic principle remains the same.
Business Benefits of The Internet of Things
- Spot problems and handle them
- More efficient service delivery
- Real-time data collection and analysis.
Industrial Internet of Things plays an important role in giving feedback about the goods/services they provide.
Building sensors into everyday devices could help manufacturers monitor their products remotely and discover any possible malfunctioning. The faulty products could then be recalled or improved upon in other versions.
Another benefit of the industrial Internet of Things for business is real-time data collection. As consumers use products, data is collected and analyzed. The results of these analyses could help point manufacturers in the direction of innovations or areas to improve. As a result, customer satisfaction increases. This increase, in turn, could translate to great profit for the businesses.
Consumer’s Benefits of The Internet of Things
Thanks to smart devices and appliances, life has been made much easier for consumers.
IoT devices engage with the user’s environment and provide useful information. Users can remotely control their home lighting systems, as well as security. With smart meters, consumers can save money on energy consumption in their homes.
Ultimately, the use of IoT devices helps people manage their choices more and stay informed thanks to the sensors picking up data all around.
What About The Internet of Things Security?
For all its benefits, the internet of things could have some drawbacks too. One of the main hindrances is security.
The sensors built into devices collect a lot of personal data. This could be an issue if those data fall into the wrong hands. Some of the IoT devices do not adequately secure user data. As such, some of these devices could get easily hacked into. There are reports of insulin pumps, pacemakers, and other wearables getting hacked.
A major concern is the potential for these devices for espionage or to cause accidents. The Internet of Things security is non-existent.
Privacy and IoT
Ultimately, users need to be aware of the possible risks and then decide whether to use IoT devices.
For example, someone can tap a smart camera installed in an office and spy on meetings. Worse still, sensitive data can leak to the public.
When deciding whether to use IoT devices, users should weigh the benefits against the possible risks. Also, knowing about these risks could help users take more precautions to avoid them.
The IoT and Cyberware
There are growing concerns that enemy countries could use IoT devices to spy on and cause havoc in other countries. If they hack into these devices, they can control them remotely and cause a lot of damage.
For this reason, countries are beginning to take these possibilities into account in planning against cyber warfare.
IoT and Data
IoT devices have built-in sensors with which they collect data. However, the kind of data collected will vary, depending on what the gadget does.
All of the collected data will then transmit over the internet. The estimate is that within five years, IoT devices will be creating about 79.4 zettabytes of data.
Devices that would probably create more data include video surveillance cameras, drones, and self-driving cars.
IoT and Big Data Analytics
The internet of things is an essential driver of big data analytics projects. This is because it helps companies create and analyze large data sets. When manufacturers have large amounts of data about how their products work, they can make improvements faster.
Also, information from analyzing big data could help manufacturers deliver more efficient products and services.
These data could come in various forms, such as video, voice requests, temperature, and others, depending on what sensors the devices have. These data are then analyzed to understand how the products work and what problems they could have.
IoT Data and Artificial Intelligence
Most companies feed the data generated by their IoT devices into artificial intelligence systems. These systems can then make predictions based on the data it feeds on.
For example, An AI can process all of the data generated from a smart meter. This AI system could then accurately predict how much energy would be consumed in a home by the end of the year.
Companies like Google make use of AI systems in managing data generated from thousands of sensors.
The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning has made data management more efficient.
IoT and Smart Cities
Smart city projects are a potentially huge area for big tech companies.
City planners understand what is going on in their cities by spreading large numbers of sensors. These help them collect more data and gain insight into how the city functions as a whole. Some of the IoT devices transmitting these data include security cameras, environmental sensors, and lots more.
The application of IoT in city planning could have a lot of benefits. For example, it is possible to monitor roads, bridges, and other infrastructures to detect structural changes in the early stages.
Security and Vulnerabilities
A big issue with the internet of things is security. Companies collect a lot of sensitive data with these devices, and it is important to ensure that they are kept safe. Sadly, the IoT’s track record in security is poor.
Also, many IoT devices, when there is a flaw, are not easy to patch. This means they are permanently at risk. Because of this, hackers are targeting IoT devices more.
Governments as well worry about the security risks. The UK has laid out a list of guidelines to ensure that consumer IoT devices are secure. Although the steps may seem small, it is a great place to start.
IoT Evolution: Where Does the Internet of Things Go from Here?
With the continued drop in prices of sensors, more and more devices add to the IoT.
Also, there are lots of competing vendors and platforms. Device makers, software companies, and network operators all want to have a piece. Meanwhile, the prediction is that security issues will cause serious mishaps a few years from now.
One thing is sure; we can expect to see more IoT devices on the markets as the years go by.