Tech

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

5 Mins read

As time evolves, humans get lazy ooooppppsssss!!! Or I rather say “smarter”. In this regard, we enjoy doing things in a more efficient way that saves us time and money. Take for instance almost everyone who can afford prefers a microwave that can cook food without supervision, electronic gates that pull open as a car approaches, smart watches that count our steps and record our heartbeats as we trek, driverless cars, etc. All these innovations that give us a better satisfaction and user experience of these things we use. However, the technology behind these “EASE LIVES” is governed by sensor embedded and internet connected innovation known as the INTERNET OF THINGS or IoT. In this article, we are going to explore this concept under the following sub topics:

  • What is IoT?
  • Core functions of the IoT components
  • Why do connected devices need to share data?
  • How does it work?
  • IoT devices
  • Importance of the Internet of Things
  • Applications of Internet of Things
  • Privacy and security implications

What is IoT?

 Internet of Things is the concept of connecting devices (so long as it has an on/off switch) to the Internet and to other connected devices. In this regard we best see it a network of devices with each uniquely identified by internet protocols (the internet) connected to each other and sharing information without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Core functions of the IoT components

In the Internet of Things, all the things that are being connected to the internet can be put into three categories:

  1. Collecting and Sending Information: like with sensors that automatically collect information from the environment which, in turn, allows us to make more intelligent decisions.
  2. Receiving and Acting on Information:  like your car ignition receives a signal from your car keys and the doors open.
  3. Doing Both: an example is an irrigation system that receives information about the weather from its internet connection; it can also know when it’s going to rain and decide not to water the crops today thus avoiding waste.

Why do connected devices need to share data?

IoT basically is everything on the planet connected to internet but again the big question is why have everything connected to the internet? Is it just because it can be connected? The main reason is for data collection. Generally every data collected is for a specific purpose that may be useful to a buyer and impact the entire system. The data can be used within industrial applications, sensors on product lines to increase efficiency and cut down on waste. Therefore the internet of things makes the usage of the internet beyond screens and keyboards thereby bringing about more efficiency in how we do things as a result saving us time, money and energy.

How does it work?

Within the IoT network, devices and objects built with sensors are connected to an Internet of Things platform . The devices here range from autonomous cars to little heat sensors which measure temperatures in homes. The data the devices collect from their environment is transmitted to a gathering point. Moving the data can be done wirelessly using a range of technologies or on wired networks. The data can be sent over the internet to a data center or a cloud that has storage where processing occurs. The data center integrates data from the different devices and applies analytics to share the most valuable information with applications built to address specific needs. These powerful IoT platforms can carefully pinpoint exactly what information is useful and safely ignores what it doesn’t need. This information can be used to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems before they occur especially when these are repetitive, mundane, time-consuming or even dangerous.

 However, in some strict cases where delays are fatal like in industrial settings, the round-trip of sending data from the device to a remote data center and back after analysis may be too long. In such cases edge-computing can come into play, where a smart edge device can collect and combine data, analyze it and fashion responses if necessary, all within relatively close physical distance, thereby reducing delay.

IoT Examples

Basically, anything that’s capable of gathering some information about the physical world and sending it back home can participate in the IoT ecosystem. Some few examples are Smart devices for home, RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, and industrial sensors, fitness wearables, factory robots and home security systems. The common aspect with these devices is their interconnection to a data center and their connection to an internet protocol; a means they use to communicate.

Importance of the Internet of things

Despite the privacy and security concerns posed by IoT systems, its advantages cannot be disregarded. The main advantage of the internet of things is just the purpose of this innovation which is to increase efficiency, save cost, avoid waste and save time.

Applications of the Internet of Things

As mentioned above, every device (with on and off button) can connected to the internet to form a IoT system with goal to enhance efficiency, some areas predominantly take the lead in exploring this technology

  • In the Oil and gas industry, isolated drilling sites can be better monitored with IoT sensors.
  • Engineers use IoT uses AI to analyze data from drones to distinguish between trivial damage to a bridge and cracks that need attention
  • In the agricultural sector, granular data about crops growing in fields derived from IoT sensors can be used to increase yields
  • In Brick-and-mortar retail practice, Customers can be microtargeted with offers on their phones as they linger in certain parts of a store
  • Smarter building security systems.
  • Smarter Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).
  • Safer and more comfortable/healthy workplaces and buildings.
  • Cost reductions, also in a green building context and in reduction of energy and water consumption.
  • Better planning, operational efficiencies and enhanced resource allocation.
  • Building management and building automation.

Privacy and security implications

It is clear at least to most of us that everything that’s connected to the internet can be hacked; IoT products are no exception to this rule. There’s also the issue of surveillance. If every product becomes connected then there’s the potential for unbridled observation of users. For instance, if a connected fridge tracks food usage and consumption, takeaways (without the user’s permission) could be targeted at hungry people who have no food. If a smart watch may be able detect when you’re having sex this may be used against the wearer at any time by a hacker.

In the future, gaining access to networks or user credentials may enable intelligence services to use the internet of things for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting. So before choosing any IoT device, it will be wise to ensure the privacy policy and encryption complies to exclusivity guidelines that will protect you from such hacks like in the case with wikileaks.

Conclusion

In conclusion, IoT is concept based on a technology that enables objects to be “smart”, artificial intelligence is when a system can complete a set of tasks or learn from data just like human brains. Combining these two gives AIoT- artificial intelligence of things; with this technology can be made “smart devices” which can collect, analyze data and make decisions then  act on that data without involvement by humans. These “smart” devices can help drive efficiency and effectiveness, a baby technology for more research.

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