What is the Internet of Things(IoT)?

 

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The Internet of Things (IoT) describes physical objects (or groups of such objects), that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies, and that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks. In a nutshell, the Internet of Things is the concept of connecting any device (so long as it has an on/off switch) to the Internet and to other connected devices. The IoT is a giant network of connected things and people – all of which collect and share data about the way they are used and about the environment around them. Connecting up all these different objects and adding sensors to them adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate real-time data without involving a human being. The Internet of Things is making the fabric of the world around us more smarter and more responsive, merging the digital and physical universes. Thanks to the arrival of super-cheap computer chips and the ubiquity of wireless networks, it's possible to turn anything, from something as small as a pill to something as big as an aeroplane, into a part of the IoT.

How does the Internet of Things work?

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Devices and objects with built in sensors are connected to an Internet of Things platform, which 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 pinpoint exactly what information is useful and what can safely be ignored. This information can be used to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems before they occur.

The information picked up by connected devices enables me to make smart decisions about which components to stock up on, based on real-time information, which helps me save time and money.

With the insight provided by advanced analytics comes the power to make processes more efficient. Smart objects and systems mean you can automate certain tasks, particularly when these are repetitive, mundane, time-consuming or even dangerous.

What are examples of internet of things devices?

Pretty much any physical object can be transformed into an IoT device if it can be connected to the internet to be controlled or communicate information.

A lightbulb that can be switched on using a smartphone app is an IoT device, as is a motion sensor or a smart thermostat in your office or a connected streetlight. An IoT device could be as fluffy as a child's toy or as serious as a driverless truck. Some larger objects may themselves be filled with many smaller IoT components, such as a jet engine that's now filled with thousands of sensors collecting and transmitting data back to make sure it is operating efficiently. At an even bigger scale, smart cities projects are filling entire regions with sensors to help us understand and control the environment.

The term IoT is mainly used for devices that wouldn't usually be generally expected to have an internet connection, and that can communicate with the network independently of human action. For this reason, a PC isn't generally considered an IoT device and neither is a smartphone -- even though the latter is crammed with sensors. A smartwatch or a fitness band or other wearable device might be counted as an IoT device, however.