Internet of Things
What is IoT? It stands for the Internet of Things, the next level of wireless connectivity. Okay, but what is the Internet of Things, exactly? Read on it find out.
Internet of Things Definition
The IoT or Internet of Things is a phrase describing a tech world where everyday objects are connected to – and in some ways are part of – the Internet. We’re not just talking about phones here, but about appliances, lights, supplies, speakers, clothing, tires, windows, and much more.
The Internet of Things is quickly becoming a reality and certainly exists in more advanced homes and businesses today, but the term is often used as a projection of a future scenario. It describes what people think the world will become, as well as what it is currently changing into. So there’s plenty of room in the Internet of Things for speculation, innovation, imagination, and possibly some worry as well.
Objects that are part of the Internet of Things vary tremendously (the point is that they can be anything), but they tend to have several factors in common. These include:
- Wireless Connectivity: These objects can connect to Wi-Fi networks and send information through them
- Data as Identity: These objects have a digital representation made from the data that they send about themselves. This data is typically gathered via sensors, a key part of IoT devices.
- Remote Interaction: While not all objects can be directly controlled via their wireless connections and mobile apps, many can. Even those that cannot be controlled via a smartphone or computer send data that is designed to influence decisions.
The term “Internet of Things” appears to have been coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton. This was years before the first true IoT devices began to appear on the market, but it was a time of analysis and forecasts regarding the Internet. MIT began use the term to discuss the evolution of data. In the beginning, the Internet was primarily made of content created by humans: MIT, Ashton and others predicted a future when devices would produce their own data and use the Internet as a medium of communication. Device-to-device and device-to-user communication were expected to grow common.
According to companies like Gartner, by 2020 the Internet of Things should be at around 26 billion installed and active devices. Many consumer-facing trends, like Apple’s iHealth app or the growing home automation network created by Google and its Nest subsidiary, show how the IoT is evolving. But there’s also a lot of activity behind the scenes, where chipmakers are battling over who gets to produce the sensors and circuit boards of all these new connected devices. Intel, with its acquisition of companies like Lantiq, is striving to be a major player.
So, what does the Internet of Things actually look like? So far, it’s easy to spot several primary trends in the market that give a good snapshot at the areas where connectivity is on the rise.
- Home Automation: Home automation refers to all those smart devices that you can schedule and control via apps. Set your light bulbs on a schedule, make sure your garage door is closed at work, open the door for a friend while on vacation, let your smart thermostat save you money…you get the idea. The entertainment center is a major focus for this area, with nearly all entertainment features programmable and controllable through voice commands, app schedules, and more. An important part of this sector is the ability to create “scenes” that use multiple devices at the same time.
- Wearables: The wearables section is relatively new but filled with plenty of clothing-related opportunities. Fitness bands and other smartbands are the most common products on the market, but there are also plenty of smart watches to be found. Prototypes abound for smart shirts, pants, and jackets, especially in fitness and sports industries, so these are likely to be commonplace one day too. The goal of these wearables is typically to track physical data, like heart rate, calories burned, sleep activity, steps walked, and so on.
- Auto Tech: The car, like the home, has become a focus for many IoT innovations. The latest cars have dashboards that automatically connect to our phones and offer many of the same apps via familiar touchscreens. They scan the road around us, offer safety tips, let us know about the pressure in our tires, and more. They also make it easier to unlock and start cars via smart authentication.
- Data Monitoring: Data monitoring devices exist throughout many industries, and help both companies and individuals track a particular type of data. The health and energy sectors are both some of the fastest adopters of this IoT solution: The IoT can be used to help monitor both patients and energy use to save money and improve procedures. A very traditional use of data monitoring is the use of RFID tags and similar technology to track products through supply chains for better inventory management.