A friend of mine recently asked me to explain what IoT really stood for—not what the definition meant—and to help her understand the implications it is expected to bring. To help everyone else who has the same questions, here is a concise explanation of everything you need to know about the Internet of Things and related technologies.
What is IoT?
IoT is the short form of Internet of Things. It is the name of the technology that enables IP address enabled sensors to perform a specific task of measuring a certain unit and potentially respond to input and create a response through other connected mechanisms. Other terms such as Internet of Everything, Internet of Devices, and so on, are just variations of the main term IoT.
Here is an example. An IoT-powered, and connected to the internet in some way, skateboard in its simplest form can measure the distance its rider has travelled. This information may be relayed to a system that is collecting the information, perhaps a smartphone that has an app built by the skateboard manufacturer for this very purpose. We now have an Internet-connected skateboard.
At a deeper and more complex level, and dependent on a higher technological design consider that the skateboard has wheels that have two aspects. A sensor that is again able to measure distance and time and additionally motor powered wheels that are able to transmit a command from a central brain on the skateboard that in turn can be connected to a smartphone and controlled remotely. We now have a skateboard that can both be controlled and which can also provide us with more information on which we base our decisions of where to take it next. This is the concept of the Internet of Things.
Apply this to any device and any application and let your mind go wild. We are now talking about such a vast array of things that encompasses Diaper’s to Spaceships. Devices and objects will become intelligent and will be connected to the internet exchanging thousands of gigabytes of data every day and maybe every minute.
Consider this. Today, a single Boeing 787 flight creates around half a Terrabyte of data today and that considering there is no major proliferation of IoT devices on a typical airline today. Now, imagine an airline fitted with all kinds of IoT devices that make the passenger experience completely different from what it is right now. This changes everything. From the airline now flying a highly connected and potentially efficient aircraft to passengers who get an experience like ever before and in the middle technicians, data analysts, decision makers and others whose every task is to analyze all the data coming from every IoT sensor on the plane and ensuring a better result overall in every way, be is passenger experience, flight schedule optimization, optimizing fuel efficiency and so on.
The Potential of IoT to Transform Everything
The internet of things poses great opportunity to make many things better. Diving a step deeper into technology and in fact could be a colossal leap from the time when the launch of the internet was considered to be a giant step, the Internet of Things will do what was never done before in an unprecedented way.
With over 50 billion devices expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, leading analysts are touching what would be the tip of an iceberg. What would follow after 2020 would be a huge spike in the deployment of IoT devices across our personal and work lives. Most likely everything we have would be connected to the internet in some way and as the laws of commercializing technology go, we are probably looking for a tremendous expansion of the IoT powered world. As new companies and manufacturers try to capitalize on the bigger and more popular things being powered and connected to the internet, niche players will also likely see an increase in growth.
The Internet of Things is also connected to the idea of the Internet of Everything. There may be many more that you have heard such as Internet of Objects and so on. These are terms for the same technology defined in a different way.
IoT for Consumers
As a consumer all you can do is sit back and wait for the plethora of internet enabled devices to roll your way. Yes, the electronics stores are going to have a ball. Just because mass produced IoT devices will be useful and become popular it is a likely conclusion that as business grows so will the quality of devices and the uniqueness of devices that will hit the markets.
Some of the expectations that consumers should have are IoT devices helping do tasks better, more efficiently, measuring and monitoring devices, changes, and overall helping in deriving more value out of everything we do in our daily lives. The idea of cars being able to communicate with each other is very common and that is a direct derivative of IoT in the automotive Industry. In the healthcare industry IoT can address better patient care, improved diagnostics, better communication between healthcare patients and patients. In schools IoT devices can help deliver a better educational experience to students and whole at home it can help make your home more efficient, comfortable and safe.
The possibilities are endless.
IoT for Businesses
No matter what business you are in, your world will be penetrated by IoT devices. Logistics, Energy, Consumer Goods, Healthcare, name it and there are applications (many of them even today) that are internet connected and can perform various functions. The best advice for you is to be aware of the changing landscape in business and start leveraging technology to offer more value to your customers.
You can also get involved in the IoT world yourself by creating unique devices that serve a purpose and solve a problem. IoT today is being used in industries such as Oil & Gas to monitor oil flow through pipelines, in Smart meters to help measure and optimize the delivery and consumption of electricity, in Mining to monitor logistics. We are just getting started.
Regardless of who you are and what you do, the next few years are going to see unprecedented development in technology overall, especially through the development of IoT devices. The Internet of Things (IoT) framework, technology or platform, call it what you like, is perhaps a much bigger technology than we have every seen. Some also call it bigger than the internet itself.
While we are still in the early days of the technology growing and commercializing, there is definitely a movement that is taking place. Innovation is growing day by day with newer devices and ideas being created that make IoT applicable and valuable in many ways. Be part of this revolution today by keeping abreast of latest technology news, and by engaging in meaningful dialogue about IoT with your friends, colleagues and peers. You never know where a simple conversation may lead.