What is the IoT? How the internet of things works 

The Internet of Things explained: What the IoT is, and where it`s going next. 

What is the Internet of Things? 

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. Thanks to cheap processors and wireless networks, it`s possible to turn anything, from a pill to an aeroplane, into part of the IoT. This adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate without a human being involved, and merging the digital and physical worlds. 

What is an example of an Internet of Things device? 

Pretty much any physical object can be transformed into an IoT device if it can be connected to the internet and controlled that way 

A lightbulb or AC/Fan that can be switched on using a smartphone app is an IoT device, as is a motion sensor or a smart thermostat in your office or a connected streetlight. The term `IoT` is mainly used for devices that wouldn`t usually be generally expected to have an internet connection, that can communicate with the network independently of human action. For this reason, a PC isn`t generally considered an IoT device and neither is a smartphone  

What is the history of the Internet of Things? 

The idea of adding sensor and intelligence to basic objects was discussed throughout the 1980s and 1990s (and there are arguably some much earlier ancestors), but apart from some early projects -- including an internet-connected vending machine -- progress was slow simply because the technology wasn`t in place. 

Processors that were cheap and power-frugal enough to be all but disposable were required before it became cost-effective to connect up billions of devices. The adoption of RFID tags -- low-power chips that can communicate wirelessly -- solved some of this issue, along with the increasing availability of broadband internet and cellular and wireless networking. The adoption of IPv6 -- which, among other things, should provide enough IP addresses for every device the world (or indeed this galaxy) is ever likely to need -- was also a necessary step for the IoT to scale. Kevin Ashton coined the phrase `Internet of Things` in 1999, although it took at least another decade for the technology to catch up with the vision. 

The IoT was initially most interesting to business and manufacturing, where its application is sometimes known as machine-to-machine (M2M), but the emphasis is now on filling our homes and offices with smart devices, transforming it into something that`s relevant to almost everyone. 

How big is the Internet of Things? 

Big and getting bigger -- there are already more connected things than people in the world. Analyst Gartner calculates that around 8.4 billion IoT devices were in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and this will likely reach 20.4 billion by 2020. Total spending on IoT endpoints and services will reach almost $2tn in 2017, with two-thirds of those devices found in China, North America and Western Europe, said Gartner. 

What are the benefits of the Internet of Things for business? 

Occasionally known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0, the benefits of the IoT for business depend on the particular implementation, but the key is that enterprises should have access to more data about their own products and their own internal systems, and a greater ability to make changes as a result. 

What are the benefits of the Internet of Things for consumers? 

The IoT promises to make our environment -- our homes and offices and vehicles -- smarter, more measurable, and chattier. Smart speakers like Amazon`s Echo and Google Home make it easier to play music, set timers, or get information. Home security systems make it easier to monitor what`s going on inside and outside, or to see and talk to visitors. Meanwhile, smart thermostats can help us heat our homes before we arrive back, and smart lightbulbs can make it look like we`re home even when we`re out. 

Looking beyond the home, sensors can help us to understand how noisy or polluted our environment might be. Autonomous cars and smart cities could change how we build and manage our public spaces. 

Where does the Internet of Things go next? 

As the price of sensors and communications continue to drop, it becomes cost-effective to add more devices to the IoT -- even if in some cases there`s little obvious benefit to consumers. As the number of connected devices continues to rise, our living and working environments will become filled with smart products -- assuming we are willing to accept the security and privacy trade-offs. Some will welcome the new era of smart things. Others will pine for the days when a chair was simply a chair. 

22-March 8:56 PM 443 Views

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