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What is IoT?

A Brief Look at Current IoT & What We Can Expect to See in the Future  

It is a phrase we’ve all heard once or twice but that maybe only a handful of us fully understand. The Internet of Things (IoT) is mentioned in a vast, ever-growing conversation about technology, policy, and improving how we collect, analyze, and put data to use to better numerous touchpoints in industry and in our everyday lives.

But, more seriously, what exactly is the Internet of Things? What does it mean, what does it entail, and how can we all sort through some of the technical jargon to attain a much more solid understanding of the Internet of Things?

For starters, continue reading this article—we’re diving into the very basics of IoT to help define it, understand it, and explain how it can have a broad impact on our lives. More importantly, we’ll consider what type of impact the IoT will have on our future.

Building the Foundation: IoT Explained

We cannot have a comprehensive understanding of IoT without a solid foundation, so let’s start with the basics.

The Internet of Things—often called the IoT—refers to a world of products, software, and services that are connected to a vast network like the Internet, a company intranet, or a network using industrial communication protocols.

In other words, the IoT is all about extending the power of the internet beyond just computers, smartphones, Wi-Fi, etc. It’s about making connections between these technologies and a whole range of other things, like processes, protocols, and environments.

The “things” connected to the IoT are used to gather data, send information, or a combination of both.

In short, the IoT refers to anything that is “connected” to the network and can send or receive (or some combo of both) information to make things smart.

The beauty of this? A device connected to the IoT doesn’t have to be a particular type of device—it doesn’t need large amounts of storage or some kind of advanced computer inside of it. All it needs to do is be able to connect to super storage or a supercomputer.

So, with the IoT, connection is key.

Put in even simpler terms, IoT is the concept and action of connecting any device with an on and off switch to the internet (or to each other). And this can be anything—we’re talking headlamps, washing machines, coffee makers, complex industrial equipment, jet engines on airplanes, cellphones, etc.

Collecting, Receiving, Connecting—How IoT Currently Works

Currently, IoT relies on connecting objects or devices that are able to collect information, send information, receive information, or some kind of unique combination of all three.

Typically (especially in commercial or industrial settings), devices or objects connected to the IoT have built-in sensors that are connected to the IoT platform, which helps to integrate data from all the different devices, apply analytics, and share relevant information.

All of that information is used to help detect patterns, make recommendations, predict problems before they occur, and, overall, help work and life run more smoothly.

To put this into perspective, IBM provides several unique scenarios in an article in which IoT can be applied to various touchpoints of life. Consider this example: you wake up at 7 am every day to go to work, which, is fine until something goes wrong. Your train is canceled and you must drive to work—but it takes longer to drive. So, in theory, you need to get up at 6:45 to make it to work. Plus, it’s raining, so you’ll need even more time to get there.

A run-of-the-mill alarm that’s not connected to the IoT doesn’t “know” any of this — it will just wake you up at the time you set. But a smart clock that’s connected to IoT will “know”this information and can reset your alarm for you. Who knows, it might even make your coffee earlier if it’s super smart and if your coffee maker is connected to the IoT as well.

That’s a considerably basic (if not incredibly functional) example of how IoT can change our daily lives for the better. There are much bigger, broader examples of how IoT can change industry, the commercial space, and how we run our businesses.

Take Siemens, for example. This German multinational conglomerate company introduced an operating system called Mindsphere, a cloud based IoT unit, to aggregate data from all the different vital components of a factory and then process them through rich analytics to produce useful results.

Or, consider Caterpillar (CAT), an American machinery and equipment company who has brought about 45% efficiency into its production by putting IoT to use through industrial machinery with intelligent sensors and network capabilities that allow users to optimize and monitor processes closely.

Why IoT Matters—The Future of IoT & How it Will Impact Us

According to Forbes.com, the new rule for the future is likely to be “anything that can be connected, will be connected.”

In other words, IoT is slowly but surely becoming our new way of life—automating our day-to-day and creating more intelligent, efficient ways to live, work, and interact with our surroundings.

This is highly relevant to all aspects of industry, from manufacturing to the service industry and beyond. As Deloitte thoughtfully worded it, “the Internet of Things should be viewed as a technology enabler to respond to customer pain points. It offers the possibility of understanding, correcting, and improving customer outcomes through analysis of data. IoT will acquire this data and transform it into insights, to create a win-win situation for both users and manufacturers.”

IoT can be applied to broader things like transportation, the evolution of “smart cities” that reduce more waste and improve energy efficiency, and more.

And the IoT is only going to continue growing. According to the analyst firm Gartner, there will be 26 billion connected devices by the end of 2020, encompassing hardware (the things themselves) embedded software, communication services, and information services associated with the IoT.

 Understandably, there’s no short explanation that could thoroughly detail the infinite possibilities that the IoT brings us, it’s vital to recognize that the IoT topic—and all it encompasses—is an ever-evolving conversation that will take many forms and transition through countless iterations.

The question of whether or not the IoT will become the standard has been answered—it will. Now, we’re just left to wonder how quickly and how thoroughly IoT will be integrated into every touchpoint of our daily lives.

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This entry was posted on June 22nd, 2020 and is filed under Education, Technology. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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