What Is The Internet of Things (IoT)?

The internet of things (IoT) may well be just a network of connected smart devices, but it can lead to a security breach.


What Is The Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the myriads of physical devices around the world that are connected to the web all of which are collecting and sharing data. Because of the arrival of super-cheap computer chips and thus the ubiquity of wireless networks, it's possible to form anything, from something as small as a pill to something as big as a plane, into a section of the IoT. Getting together all such different objects and adding sensors to them adds a grade of digital intelligence to these devices which may be otherwise dumb, enabling them to add real-time data without the help of a human. The Internet of Things is making the material of the globe around us smarter and more responsive, making the digital and physical universes one.

• How Big Is It?

DETROIT – This fresh wave of connectivity reaches beyond laptops and phones, it’s going towards self-driven cars, smart homes, connected wearables, smart cities, and connected healthcare. Indeed, a life where everything is interconnected. In keeping view with the Gartner report, by 2020, connected devices across all technologies summoned up to $20.6 billion.

HP did a little survey during which they estimated the increase of connected gadgets over the years and therefore the results they got were very surprising. Are we heading towards a world that is fully automated?

These devices will become a bridge between the physical and digital world to increase the quality and productivity of life, society, and industries. With IoT setting up with smart homes, it is often the foremost awaited feature with brands already getting into the race with smart home appliances. The second feature trending on the internet is wearables. With the launch of the Apple Watch and more gadgets to cash in, these connected devices are going to keep us patched with the inter-linked world.

In a survey which was conducted by KRC Research in the UK, US, Japan, and Germany, the first adopters of IoT have unveiled the fact that which devices will be purchased more likely to use within the coming years. Smart things like thermostats, smart refrigerators, among the few, are most liked to be purchased and might change the way we operate.

• How It Evolved?

Internet of Things is a 16 years old term. But the main idea of linked devices had been around much longer than that, perhaps since the 70s. At that time, it was often called “embedded internet” or “pervasive computing”. But the term “Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 during his work on Procter&Gamble. Ashton who worked in supply chain optimization wanted to draw the attention of senior management as to a replacement exciting technology called RFID. As the web is the most well-liked trend in 1999 and since it somehow making sense, he gave the name to his presentation as “Internet of Things”.

Even though Kevin got the attention of some of the P&G executives, the term Internet of Things did hardly get worldwide attention for the next 10 years. The concept then began to gain some fame within the summer of 2010. Info was leaked that Google’s Street View service had been storing a lot of data of people’s Wifi networks. People were discussing whether this was the start of a new Google strategy to not only index net but also index the physical world.

The same year, the Chinese government announced it might make the Internet of Things a strategic priority in their Five-Year-Plan.

In 2011, Gartner, the marketing research company that invented the famous “hype-cycle for emerging technologies” listed a new rising phenomenon on their list: “The Internet of Things”.

The following year, the theme of Europe’s biggest Internet conference (LeWeb) was the “Internet of Things”. At an equivalent time popular tech-focused magazines like Forbes, Fast Company, and Wired starting using IoT as their vocabulary to explain the phenomenon.

In October of 2013, IDC published a report which stated that the Internet of Things would most probably be an $8.9 trillion market in 2020.

When in January 2014 Google announced to purchase Nest for $3.2bn, the term 'Internet of Things' got mass reach. At an equivalent time, the buyer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was kept under the theme of IoT.

• How It Works?

As we all know that Internet has changed the style of our work & communication, by linking us via a vast digital web, the internet. IoT will take this connectivity to another height by linking several devices at a time to the internet thereby easing the humans-to-machine and machine-to-machine interactions.

Mortals who started working with this idea, have now realized that this IoT ecosystem ain't just limited to a single field but can be applied in the automation of various business sectors like homes, vehicles, medical, factories, retail shops, healthcare, and much more. 

The complete work process of IoT can be described with the help of for fundamentals;

(I) Sensors/Devices

First, sensors or devices help in getting very trivial data from the environment that surrounds it. This collected data can sometimes be very complex like a full video feed and can other times be very simple such as a temperature monitoring sensor.

A device/gadget might sometimes have multiple sensors that can bind together to do more than just sensing. For example, our smartphones have multiple sensors such as GPS, accelerometer, camera, etc, but smartphones can't sense. 

The fundamental step will forever pick data from the environment be it a single sensor or multiple ones.

(II) Connectivity

Next, the data collected is sent to a cloud infrastructure that can only be transported via a medium. 

Via various mediums of communication and transports the sensors are connected to the cloud. The networks can be Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, wide-area networks (WAN), satellite networks, and many more. 

We choose every option with some specs and trade-offs between range, consumption of power, and bandwidth. So, we must choose the best connectivity option in the IoT system. 

(III) Data Processing

When all the data is collected in the cloud, it needs to be processed by the software. 

This task can be very simple, such as checking that the temperature on appliances like AC is within a range that is acceptable. It can sometimes also be very complex, such as identifying objects (like an intruder in your house) from video footage. 

But there would sometimes be a situation when a user interaction would be needed, for example- assume that the temperature becomes too high or assume that there is an intruder in your house? That’s where the user will get into notice.

(IV) User Interface

Next, the data is made available to the end-user in one way or other. This can be achieved by triggering alarms on their phones or notifying them via texts or emails.

Also, users sometimes would have an interface through which they would actively check in on their IoT system. For example, a user would have a camera set up in his house, he would want to see the video recordings and all the footage via an internet server.

However, it’s can't be this easy forever. Depending on the complexity of the system and IoT application, the user may end up performing an action that would backfire which would affect the system badly. 

For example, if users identify any alteration in the refrigerator, they can remotely adjust the temperature via their smartphones. 

In some cases, actions might be performed automatically. By predefining some rules and implementing them, the entire IoT system can automatically change the settings according to any requirement without any human interference.

Also if there's an intruder sensed, the system can trigger an alarm to alert the owner of the house and also the concerned authorities.