9 Detailed List of What You Need to Know About Internet of Things

What You Need to Know About Internet of Things

9 Detailed List of What You Need to Know About Internet of Things

Mystified by the Internet of Things? Well you’re not the only one. The tech sphere loves to use buzzwords like cloud and quantum computing to simplify complex models, but more often than not end up obscuring them. If you are new to the term, worry no more because in this article, we dial down on what you need to know about Internet of Things.

1. What is the Internet of things exactly?

The Internet of Things is defined as a web of interconnected physical objects that are provided with sensors. To read data and have the ability to transfer that data over a network without requiring human interaction.

Simply put, The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to millions of objects around the world that are now collecting real-time data and sharing it through the internet. This gives a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb. Enabling them to communicate without a human being involved. Thanks to sensors and wireless networks getting cheaper and more accessible, it’s possible to turn anything, from chairs to automobiles, into part of the IoT network.

2. What is a “thing” in Internet of things?

Things can range from computing devices, digital machines, and home appliances to even organic things like plants, animals and people.

Unlike the traditional Internet that we know of, data in the IoT is not put in by people but rather by these physical objects. The “thing”, in the Internet of Things, can be a car that has built-in sensors to alert the owner of a theft, a thermostat that lets you control temperatures from your phone, a person with a heart monitor implant, a cow with an ID chip implant, or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the capability to transfer data over the Internet.   Pretty much anything can be transformed into an IoT device when it’s modified to be connected and controlled through the Internet.  

Devices like smartphones or computers are not considered an IoT device. The term ‘IoT’ mainly refers to devices that normally would not be able to communicate over the Internet independently of human action. A fitness band or smart watch can count as an IoT device, however.

3. Of all the names it could be called, why IoT?

If the Internet of Things is not necessarily part of the Internet as we know it, then why is it called Internet of Things?

Although the concept wasn’t named until 1999, the idea of adding sensor and intelligence to basic objects was studied throughout the 1970s and 1990s. Before IoT was called IoT, the idea was often called pervasive computing or embedded internet around the 70s to 90s. The first smart appliance, for example, was a Coke machine in the 1980s made by programmers in university. Its status could be viewed on the Internet, helping them determine when the drinks would be cold.  Progress was slow back then simply because the technology wasn’t ready yet. Cheap processors were required before it was possible to connect up billions of devices.

The term “Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 during his work at Procter & Gamble. Ashton wanted to implement an exciting technology called RFID in factory machines to optimize supply chain management. He titled his presentation “Internet of Things” because the Internet was the hottest new trend in 1999. Kevin did grab the interest of P&G executives and RFID technology got the funding and development since then. However the world did not catch up with term Internet of Things until the next 10 years.

4. How do Internet of Things devices connect?

IoT devices use different methods to connect and share data depending on the device.  Devices are installed in a huge variety of ways — in houses, buildings, fashion, lighting, factories, and even in your body — that no single networking technology fits all.

Office and home devices can connect to a network easily through WiFi, Bluetooth or even Ethernet if they aren’t mobile. Remote devices will use LTE or even satellite to connect.

The key component that allows these otherwise normal devices to compute and send data without having to be built like a computer is the cloud.  The cloud is a vast network of high powered servers that perform big data services for businesses and people. Cloud servers are provided by companies like Google, IBM and Microsoft to companies that create IoT devices. Because activities like storage and data processing take place in the cloud rather than on the device itself, the existence of IoT relies on the cloud.

5. How does the IoT depend on the cloud?

The cloud provides an always-on place for storing information and computing heavy numbers. Highly available and affordable cloud infrastructure makes it easy to deposit data and compute tasks from IoT devices to cloud servers. In turn, IoT devices don’t have to be built like computer hardware but can be cheaper and leaner because all the heavy lifting is done in the cloud. Your smart thermostat won’t have much to do (aside from regulating temperature) but upload its status and download your instructions through the cloud network. It doesn’t have to store and compute the data itself.  Provided the device has Internet connectivity, you can monitor and control it through your smartphone solely through the cloud.

6. How can we consumers benefit from the Internet of Things?

The goal of IoT is to provide users with more convenient and efficient experiences.   It promises to make our environment — our homes and offices and vehicles — smarter. Smart speakers like Google Home or Amazon’s Echo make it easier to play music, set timers, or get information through a voice commanded virtual assistant. Home security systems make it easier to monitor what’s going on inside and outside the house, or to see and talk to visitors. Meanwhile, smart thermostats help us heat our homes even before we arrive back with additional calculations on power consumption savings.

Today computers are entirely dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the 50 petabytes of data on the Internet were input by human beings through manual effort. This data was put in by typing, scanning, recording or taking a digital picture.

However, people have limited time, accuracy and attention. This means they are not very good at objectively capturing data in the real world.  If our devices could precisely tell us what we need to know about things using the data they gathered without any effort from us, we would be able to greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know exactly when to repair broken items, replace faulty parts or throw out expired food. Real-world applications of IoT technology are already in many large scale industries such as energy, agriculture and food, construction and building management, transportation and healthcare. When machines can do the computing and estimating tasks for us, it gives us more time to focus our energies on more essential activities.  

7. What are smart homes?

The smart home is equipped with security locks, lighting, heating, entertainment and electronic appliances that can be remotely controlled by phone or computer. The most evident examples of these are smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo, Nest smart thermostats, and the Samsung smart fridge.

Shiny new voice activated gadgets is a novelty, but the presence of smart home applications is more serious and practical. These appliances help keep older people independent and in their own homes longer. Devices help family members and caregivers communicate and monitor the condition of elderly. These devices also help save power, energy and cost in the long run by giving us a better understanding of how our homes operate, and the ability to tweak those settings.

8. What about Internet of things security and privacy then?

Security is the biggest issue with the IoT. As consumers, what you need to know about Internet of Things is that these sensors are collecting extremely sensitive data – your personal schedule, for example. Keeping that info secure is vital to customer trust, but so far IoT’s security track record has been extremely poor.

What you need to know about Internet of Things is that it has security flaws that have left smart home devices like ovens, dishwashers and refrigerators vulnerable to hacking. Researchers found that some internet-connected smart watches for children have been found susceptible to hackers that can track the wearer’s location or even eavesdrop on conversations. Because IoT devices have simple hardware, there is little thought to basics of security. Like encrypting data in transit and at rest.

There is an opportunity for Internet Service Providers though, to act as the defense of local devices from hacking devices. The DOCSIS or ADSL/VDSL modem is smart, can act as a smart filter, a kind of automated firewall. That only allows the customer’s smart home device through the network.

Connectivity opportunities are key tasks of network providers and their basic contribution in the area of IoT solutions. Consider the value of an anti-malware component at the carrier level, protecting the home IoT devices that cannot defend themselves. The home router could easily detect which devices connecting to its WiFi are the customer’s phone. Computer and IoT devices, and which devices are malicious. To read more on Internet providers and their services visit www.xyzies.com.   

9. What is our future with the Internet of Things?

As the cost of sensors continues to drop, it becomes easier and cost-effective to add more devices. Especially to the growing IoT network. As the number of connected devices continues to rise, everything in our living environment also. From buildings to streetlights will become “smart” and efficient.  This will be a nerve-wrecking and rough process before we get there. But technological progress almost always pays off in favor of the masses.

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