What is IoT – aka the Internet of things? Many don’t know what it is, but like it or not, it’ll probably be part of your future.
In fact, you might already be using it. If you’ve got an electric car, you’ve probably got an app on your phone that allows you to turn up the heat while it’s charging, or indeed, check what percentage charge your car is at. You know that printer that seems to never run out of ink in the office? That’s probably sending an order directly to the manufacturer every time the ink is low, and like magic, someone comes in and replaces it. Or, as more and more houses modernise, you may have those excellent apps that can control your lights and heat remotely. This folks, is IoT.
What is IoT?
So, what is IoT? The Internet of Things is where everything around us becomes more connected. Last month, I used the following anecdote in a previous article. “IoT is where you get out of bed when the alarm sounds. The alarm sends a message to your shower and turns it on. When you switch the off button on the shower, a message is sent to your coffee machine downstairs. You get downstairs and your Americano is ready. You finish your coffee and put it back on the plate, a message goes to your car where it then starts air conditioning itself. This sends another message to your garage door. The door opens. You drive out. The GPS sends a message to your garage door. It closes. Your car, which knows your going to work, takes you there…. and on it goes.”
IoT Agenda describes it as the following. “The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”
Internet of Things and how it will be utilised or connected is currently big business. In fact, wiki reckons that it will be worth in the region of $7.1 Trillion as an industry by 2020. By 2017, the number of IoT devices increased to 8.4 billion, and by 2020, it is expected that there will be 30 billion such devices.
How IoT is changing the World
So, how is IoT changing the world around us? Because so many things can be connected, we thought it would be best served to highlight a just a few real-world examples.
IoT on Energy
No matter where you are in the world, I’m sure you’ve encountered much talk about how our over-dependence on energies and our wastefulness of natural resources is killing the earth. Well, by using the Internet of Things, some clever developers and inventors have come up with a solution that can reduce our energy consumption. As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, we can now use apps to check the usage of the energy we use within our homes. We can turn off lights if they’ve been left on, and we can choose to more economically use our heating systems.
Health and IoT
Remote health monitoring is becoming more popular. This is time-saving for everybody but can be especially useful for more elderly patients. Technology that facilitates this allows users to minimise personal costs because they no longer need to visit doctors as often. It can also reduce personal medical complications. In remote patient monitoring, patients can use the software to monitor home hemodialysis and other such tests.
Doctors and apps can remotely monitor the collected data. This allows for earlier detection of health issues. Devices can now measure heart rates, temperatures, blood pressure, glucose levels and more. IoT in health is likely to disrupt the health insurance industry – on account of health checks becoming more accessible without having to physically visit a doctor.
What is IoT in cars?
As the world is bracing itself for autonomous driving, car manufacturers have been working vigorously to ensure that their cars are more connected. I’ve mentioned before how the likes of Volvo are able to send road conditions and other such information to the cloud, that can then send information to other Volvo cars, emergency services and more. Well, that’s just a small anecdote.
All manufacturers are ensuring their cars become more connected with other cars, pedestrians, trams, animals and more. Here are a few examples. In Japan, Mazda worked on technologies that allow their cars to communicate with trams before the car crosses the tramlines. Volvo has been working in different countries around the world to allow their cars recognise the presence of certain animals like moose or kangaroos on the side of the road, to aid in reducing crashes with said animals. Any car with adaptive cruise control recognises other cars in front of it and automatically applies the brakes if required.
Seriously, the car industry is advancing massively in connected driving. As a result, some of the examples of what’s going on in the motor industry are astounding. Cars are now capable of being demobilised remotely through phone apps, and driving data can be examined from the luxury of your home. You can also check if your car is locked from anywhere in the world.
Some watches are able to track our locations, the number of steps we take, monitor our pulse and much more. It collects this data and can send it to an app in your phone or elsewhere as chosen.
Similarly, cities are turning to IoT to ensure better services and efficiency to their citizens. Traffic providers, service providers and governments are communicating with each other and discussing solutions to change cities’ approaches to the environment, transport, safety, utilities, health, tourism and much more. Above is a nice video from Microsoft that explains the angle of smart buildings.
So, what is IoT? Well, by the looks of things it’s part of our present and will be even bigger in our future. The positives are that this could make things around us work better. It could ensure better health systems, communications, transport, and much more. It could keep us safer and more secure.
Clever people and teams build these things. Without software developers and people who understand code, achieving these types of technologies and goals would be nigh on impossible. Without them, we probably couldn’t ask “what is IoT?” If you’re interested in learning some code, have a taste of it with our free 5 Day Coding Challenge.