What is Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is where everything around us becomes more connected through the internet and technology. Different devices connect with each other and share data, commands, and more through the internet or other communication connections.

What is the history of the Internet of Things?

According to Dataversity, IoT concepts have been around since the 1800s, when there were visions of machines talking to other devices. However, the first example of the Internet of Things in action happened in the early 1980s. Programmers in Carnegie Melon University used the internet to connect to a Coca Cola machine. Then, using the internet, they could find out if any Coke was available in the machine before they made the trip to it. 

Since then, IoT evolved heavily as more and more technology was created and as more technological methods of communications came on board. Among the communication tools that help support the Internet of Things are;

  • The internet
  • Wireless Sensor Networks
  • GPS
  • Control Systems
  • Bluetooth

Internet of Things explained – examples

Many don’t know what it is, but like it or not, it’ll probably be part of your future. You might already be using it. 

  • Electric Cars
    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. 
  • Ink
    Do 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.
  • Lights & heat
    Or, as more and more houses modernise, you may have those excellent apps that can control your lights and heat remotely. 

What is IoT? – A day in the life

In a previous article, we used an anecdote to explain IoT. “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.”

How big is the Internet of Things?

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 used is big business. In fact, Global Newswire reckons that it will be worth in the region of 1,463.19 Billion by 2027. By 2017, the number of IoT devices increased to 8.4 billion, and by 2025, it is expected that there will be 27.1 billion such devices.

What industries use Internet of Things

IoT is not confined to any particular industry, and as technology grows, it will most likely be present in all sectors. However, at present, it is very prevalent in the following industries. 

  1. Energy
  2. Health
  3. Cars
  4. Wearables
  5. Smart Cities

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 use our heating systems more economically.

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. For example, patients can use the software to monitor home hemodialysis and other such tests in remote patient monitoring.

Doctors and apps can remotely monitor the collected data. This allows for the 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 physically visiting 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, which can then send data 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 vehicles, 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 vehicle crosses the tramlines. Volvo has been working in different countries around the world to enable their vehicles to recognise the presence of certain animals like moose or kangaroos on the side of the road to aid in reducing crashes with said animals. In addition, any car with adaptive cruise control recognises other cars in front of it and automatically applies the brakes if required.

The motor industry is advancing massively in connected driving. Cars can now be 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.

Wearable Technology

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 on your phone or elsewhere as chosen.

Smart Cities

Similarly, cities are turning to IoT to ensure better services and efficiency to their citizens. Traffic providers, service providers, and governments communicate and discuss 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.

IoT – The future

Internet of Things is 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. In addition, if put to its proper use, it can keep us safer and more secure.

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