Everyone has heard people talking about the Internet of Things (IoT), but just what is it?
The Internet of Things is about connecting and giving intelligence to everything. A smart thermostat is one of the most well-known examples of the IoT. These are able to connect with your smartphone, gain an understanding of when you need it to be turned on, and then programs itself. There are devices that can also detect when there’s no one in the house to reduce waste. It all gets interesting if you’ve got several devices connected together with a hub. You can automate quite a bit with just a few devices. So for example your fitness tracker can communicate with the lights, telling them when you’re going to bed and when you should be woken up. It could also “talk” to the thermostat and coffee maker to ensure that the house is warm and you have a cup of coffee waiting when you wake up.
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What Makes the IoT So Important?
It could be surprising to learn all the things connected online, along with how much economic benefit there is to analysing the data streams. The following are just a few examples of what the IoT can offer.
- An intelligent transport solution can improve traffic flow and fuel consumption. It could also save lives and prioritise vehicle repair schedules.
- A smart electrical grid can use renewable energy sources more efficiently, improve reliability, and accurately charge customers based on use
- Smart sensors monitor machines and predict any maintenance issues, when parts might run out of stock, and prioritise the schedules of maintenance crews depending on need and equipment.
- These data-driven systems are being used to develop “smart cities” where it is easier for a municipality to effectively manage waste and make it easier for law enforcement to do their jobs.
The following is a small glossary of IoT terms:
- Internet of Things: The Internet of Things itself is a network of objects that are connected via the internet. They collect and then exchange data using sensors.
- Internet of Things Device: An IoT device is a standalone device that is connected to the internet and can be controlled or monitored from a distance; such as with a smartphone app.
- Internet of Things Ecosystem: These are all the components used by businesses, consumers, and governments to connect IoT devices. This includes dashboards, remotes, networks, analytics, gateways, security, and data storage.
- Entity: The consumer, business, or government using the device
- Physical Layer: The physical layer is the hardware of the IoT device such as the networking gear and sensors
- Network Layer: The equipment that transfers data from the physical layer to different devices
- Application Layer: This is the interfaces and protocols devices use to identify and interact with one another
- Remotes: Remotes enable entities to connect and control IoT devices using dashboards like the one provided by an app. This includes smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, PCs, TVs, and any other remote.
- Dashboard: The dashboard displays information to the user about the IoT ecosystem and makes it possible to control the ecosystem. Dashboards are often hosted on the remote.
- Analytics: These software systems analyse the data on IoT devices. The data is used for all manner of things including predictive maintenance.
- Data Storage: Where all the data an IoT device collects is stored
- Networks: This is the internet communication layer allowing entities to communicate with devices, and also devices to connect with other devices.
There are many environments within the three main groups of consumers, governments, and ecosystems that all benefit from IoT. They include manufacturing, defense, transportation, infrastructure, agriculture, retail, banks, logistics, gas, oil, mining, connected home, insurance, food services, hospitality, healthcare, utilities and smart buildings. Remember that there’s more to the IoT than just providing consumers with convenience. It offers plenty of ways to improve productivity for a number of business by offering new operating models.
Many people already wear smart devices that monitor their sleeping and exercising habits, and these devices are barely scratching the surface of what IoT can do for health care. Lives can be saved with monitoring devices and smart records for patients.
Manufacturing is an industry that really benefits from IoT. Machines in the factory and even shelves in the warehouse can collect data to alert entities about problems and keep track of resources in real time, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
Retail is an industry where both stores and consumers alike can benefit from IoT. Stores can benefit because IoT makes it easier to secure the store and track inventory. Consumers benefit from being given personalised shopping experiences by the data collected about their shopping habits.
Telecommunications will be greatly affected by IoT because the telecommunications industry is where a lot of the IoT data will be stored. It’s important for smart phones and devices to keep their connection to the internet for IoT to work properly.
Even though self-driving cars aren’t here just yet they have become incredibly technologically advanced. There are other ways that the IoT can affect transportation. Delivery companies can use GPS to monitor their fleet and roads could be monitored by sensors to ensure they stay safe.
Smart meters in the home automatically collect data, and they can use the data to effectively manage energy use. Sensors can also be placed in devices such as windmills to track when it would be ineffective to keep them running; scheduling downtime to increase efficiency.
By Gartner it’s being predicted that over 26 billion connected devices by 2020. There are some who predict the number could reach over 100 billion. The Internet of things is a huge network of things (including people) connected together. It includes interactions between people and people, people and devices, and devices and devices.