Introduction to Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things (IoT) spans across all application domains, from healthcare to logistics. It isn’t just about consumer products or services. You must have heard of home automation devices that helps to lock your doors, switch on/off your lights, turn on your coffee maker and similar other things. Wearables and smart devices are also getting popular. It is the start of a new lifestyle. This article digs deeper into what Internet of Things (IoT) is and how it works.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Oxford Dictionaries offers a concise definition that invokes the Internet as an element of the IoT: Internet of things (noun): The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.

IoT is connecting an embedded system to the Internet and is all about real-time. Do not confuse the “internet” part in IoT with the internet we’re familiar with, it’s the internet on its own for the “Things”.

Why do you need to connect all your devices to a single device? Imagine having an early morning meeting and you are running late. You want to know about the traffic and the time it would take you to reach your office. If you get notified for the best route to take on your cell phone, wouldn’t it be amazing? If the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late.

Have you ever thought how cool it would be to find your lost stuff by giving them a missed call? You can easily find your items like lost keys, wallets, or any other item.

Entrepreneur, Kevin Ashton in the late 1990s coined the term “Internet of Things”. Ashton, who’s one of the founders of the Auto-ID Center at MIT. One of the first IoT devices was an Internet Toaster built in 1989. It has controls to turn on power via TCP/IP.

How Does IoT work?

The always-online nature of our home and business network has made IoT possible. We are 24×7 in interaction with our gadgets or devices. And, these devices, often called “smart” devices, can sometimes talk to other related devices, a process called machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. Connectivity to IoT platform consists of hooking up an object to the network, wired or wirelessly, assigning an IP address to the object, and providing the object with the necessary bandwidth to communicate.

IoT Components

Network Infrastructure

The best-suited network for hosting IoT objects is the expansion of the Internet. The popularization of cloud technologies made it easy to implement IoT-based systems. Arduino and Raspberry Pis has made it possible to design and deploy functional IoT systems. Simply connecting up sensors to the internet and using the data from them for performing meaningful actions are common and super simple these days.

The ‘Things’

The ‘thing’ is an entity or physical object identifiable through its embedded computing system. Things can be a temperature sensor device, pacemaker, smoke detector, chair, washing machine, etc.

Data Exchange Protocols

IoT would not be possible without data exchange protocols. MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport) protocol helps in transferring data between IoT devices with other heterogeneous devices efficiently. MQTT is a machine-to-machine (M2M) or Internet of Things connectivity protocol.

The Impact of IoT Technology

Many objects will be able to communicate with each other through IoT in the future. This promises to be a gigantic opportunity. According to Gartner, Inc., 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017 and will reach 20.4 billion by 2020. Verizon predicts by 2025, best-in-class organizations that extensively use these technologies in their products and operations will be up to 10% more profitable. These are some of the sectors IOT has been embraced in:

  • Transportation Networks
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Retails
  • Smart Building
  • Smart Transportation
  • Consumer Gadgets

IoT creates a lot of opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs. It promises to solve major problems faced by the people living in cities like pollution, traffic congestion and the shortage of energy supplies, etc. Companies like Google and Apple have been trying to apply IoT in their products. IBM is investing billions into it, Microsoft and Intel are already in the league and hundreds of companies are exploring the world of IoT.

The IoT is quite vulnerable and prone to attacks. With an increased number of connected devices, security has appeared to be the biggest threat. The first major-scale cyber-attack attributed to the IoT was a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service Attack) attack on Dyn by the Mirai bot that scours the internet for and exploits IoT devices.

Nevertheless, IoT is the future and we can’t deny that it will change everything around us drastically.

You can learn about one of own IoT projects Junkiri: DIY Open-Source Home Automation

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