In today’s digital era, more devices are built with Wi-Fi Capabilities. Also, various sensors can now be embedded in most of the devices. All this is due to the boom in the internet connection and the fact that with each day, the internet speed is improving and its cost is declining.
This has lead to a not so new concept which has now become the topic of discussions among the techies, called the internet of things or IoT.
So what is actually IoT, how does it work and what are its applications? We will discuss it all here in this article.
Lets get started.
What is ‘Internet of Things’?
If we refer to Wikipedia, it says “The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data.”
So clearly, the “things” referred to in “Internet of Things”, are nothing but devices, vehicles etc that have sensors and software embedded in them. These things are connected to each other via internet and hence its name.
In simple terms, we can say that Internet of Things is a collection of devices and applications put together to perform useful stuff.
These things can be anything from cell-phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps and wearable devices.
For example, your wearable device can tell you how much active you were on a particular day at your workplace and share that information with other devices you use. This is how internet of things can help us in our daily lives.
This concept may seem to be new, however, it is not. Read on to know about the history of IoT.
History of IoT
The growing technology and access to the internet have brought the internet of things into the limelight since 2015-16. However, this concept is not new. In fact, it dates back to the 70s when the concept of interconnected things was called “embedded internet” or “pervasive computing”. It was in 1999, the term “Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton, while working in supply chain optimization at Procter & Gamble. In order to garner attention from his employees on the then trending topic of RFID technology and internet, he presented the whole idea as “Internet of things” and that was the first time when this term was used.
However it was only in the summer of 2010 did this concept gain popularity, when in the same year it was included in the five-year plan of the Chinese government.
Eventually over the years with the growth of the internet and embedded technology, IoT became popular among the masses. New technologies paved way for a wide range of applications where IoT could be used fruitfully.
Let us have a look into some of the practical applications of IoT .
Applications of IoT
According to a survey conducted by HP, it was shown that the number of connected devices or “things” have increased drastically over the years. This means IoT has been successful in bridging the gap between the physical and digital world for a better future.
The scope of IoT is quite extensive with technology expanding with each growing year.
Here we have listed 5 practical applications of IoT, just to let you know how it would affect our lives in the long run.
1. Smart Homes
Smart home technology or home automation aims at providing security, comfort, convenience and energy efficiency to homeowners. Here multiple devices are interconnected. For example, with closed circuit camera at your home premises that is connected to your mobile device via internet, you can see all that is happening in and around the house when you are away simply on your mobile screen. Also various power consuming devices can be connected together to help you monitor the usage and in improving the energy efficiency of your home.
2. Smart Cities
Application of IoT in Smart cities simulates the economic growth as well as improves the life style of a society. IoT can be applied for smart surveillance, water distribution and management, automated transportation etc in smart cities for a better future. Traffic congestion can be reduced, pollution can be checked and many other benefits can be achieved by implementing IoT in smart cities.
Wearable devices like watches that have activity trackers make use of IoT. These devices are electronic and have sensors in them that collect data about users and send them over the internet to either the manufacturers, operators or other connected devices, without human intervention. Fitbit is an example of smart wearable.
4. Automation Sector
The automation technology strives for the betterment of the internal functions of a car, and hence came up with the idea of implementing IoT. What’s better than a car which uses sensors and internet connectivity to optimize its own operations while keeping the passengers inside the car comfortable? These cars are referred to as “Connected Cars”. Many of the major brands are focussing on developing more features using IoT to enhance the experience of a connected car.
5. Industrial Sector
Internet of things for industries holds a lot of potential for quality control and sustainability. The sensors collect the data from the machines and send it over the internet. These data are more reliable and consistent than humans communicating the data. It is estimated that the industrial internet of things or IIoT, will increase the productivity and quality of the industries to a great extent.
Popular IoT Platforms
It is clear that the purpose of an IoT device is to connect to another IoT device. Also, we know that these are connected over the internet. However, what helps in bridging the gap between the two? This is provided by an IoT platform that connects the sensors to the internet so that information is sent to the receiver.
We have discussed various areas where IoT can be implemented. However, successful implementation of IoT depends on various factors such as the ability of the connected devices to exchange data, robust IoT framework to ensure good interoperability of the connected devices and a powerful analytics software to build applications to support all of these.
Among the many IoT frameworks and platforms available, the ones with value added services apart from the aforementioned qualities are preferred.
IoT platforms can either be generated through IoT providers that have cloud connectivity or through Cloud connectivity providers that have addon IoT protocol services.
The popular platforms generated through the former include RTI, Thingworx, Cisco, Salesforce and GE prefix.
Some popular IoT platforms generated by cloud connectivity providers with IoT addon services include: IBM Bluemix, AWS IoT, Azure IoT, Open Sensors and Verizon ThingForce.
Now that we have covered the IoT applications and platforms, let’s have look into its pros and cons.
Major Pros of Internet of Things
Better Machine to Machine Communication
Since IoT encourages communication among connected devices, it helps in maintaining transparency with better efficiency and quality.
Automation of devices
IoT connects the physical devices together so that the control is purely digital and through wireless network. This means lesser human intervention and hence faster implementation of work.
Instant Access to data
Information is available on the go, since everything is recorded and has a back up. This makes decision making simple and fast.
Implementing IoT in various fields such as industries helps in optimum utilization of resources by keeping the devices under surveillance. This helps in saving both energy and cost. This is one of the important advantage of implementing IoT.
Major Cons of Internet of Things
Unavailability of standard of compatibility of tagging and monitoring equipment, is one of the disadvantages of IoT that is most likely to overcome in future. Once the manufacturing companies of the devices all over agree to a standard of compatibility like Bluetooth, USB etc this issue can be solved.
The vast and diverse nature of IoT makes its functioning complex. This becomes an issue when there is a failure in any one of the connected devices or any software program of a particular network. The whole system will get affected by it.
Lesser Job opportunities
Since everything is automated, the demand for unskilled workers reduces. Also, companies will prefer skilled professionals who can handle the complexities and challenges of IoT.
Invasion to privacy
IoT leads to connecting more and more everyday appliances together through internet. This means more information is readily available for the potential hackers and unauthorized users.
All in all, IoT is becoming an imperative part of the society be it at our home, work place, industries, roads, irrigation etc. thanks to the growing technological developments. Proper and judicial use of IoT can benefit us in a lot of ways, as it will automatically adapt to our needs and will definitely benefit us and the society as a whole.
Hope this article gave you a brief idea of what is IoT and its uses and applications.
Thank you for reading!