The rapid evolution of information technology has transformed our society in almost each and every way. From the way we communicate, move, conduct business to our health care options- technology is everywhere. The advancement of technology has opened doors to more possibilities and opportunities that would not have been a reality some years back. One of the most profound advances in technology worth noting is the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Internet of Things is a sphere of technological development that will soon (if not already) redefine life as we know it today. Some years ago, no one would have thought of the possibility of having a vehicle without a driver. However, this is now a reality due to the use of the internet of things which has allowed the connection of various electronic and non-electronic equipment through the sharing of data.
What then is the Internet of Things?
ResearchGate explains that (IoT) is an integrated part of both present and future Internet where physical and virtual “things” have identities and are seamlessly integrated into the information network. IoT is one aspect of technology that is penetrating the world fast and is being adopted to create smart homes, smart environments, connected automobiles, wearables and industrial internet. Further, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the use of intelligently connected devices and systems to harness data gathered by embedded sensors and actuators in machines and other physical objects.
Steve Symanovich of NortonLifeLock further explains that the internet of things consists of devices that connect to the internet and share data with each other. IoT devices include not only computers, laptops and smartphones, but also objects that have been equipped with chips to gather and communicate data over a network.
The range of existing and potential internet of things devices is huge. What people may not already know is that they often use their smartphones to communicate with IoT devices through connected devices such as a speaker or home thermostat.
How does IoT work?
Dan Rafter reveals that IoT devices contain sensors and mini-computer processors that act on data collected via machine learning. He relays that IoT devices are like small computers that connect to the internet, and because they do connect to the internet, they are also vulnerable to malware and hackers.
Rafter highlights that machine learning is when computers learn in a similar way to humans, by collecting data from their surroundings. This is what makes IoT devices ‘smart’. This data can help the machine learn one’s preferences and adjust itself accordingly. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that helps computers learn without having to be programmed by someone, hence aiding in the advancement of IoT.
Cysoft further explains that the Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.
In addition, an IoT ecosystem consists of web-enabled smart devices that use embedded systems, such as processors, sensors and communication hardware, to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments. IoT devices share the sensor data they collect by connecting to an IoT gateway or other edge device where data is either sent to the cloud to be analysed or analysed locally. Sometimes, these devices communicate with other related devices and act on the information they get from one another. The devices do most of the work without human intervention, although people can interact with the devices, for instance, to set them up, give them instructions or access the data.
What sort of future can we anticipate with IOT?
The future of IoT is looking bright, with new technologies and access to information that we may not previously have thought possible. Because of the connection of different things made possible by IoT, we can now anticipate that almost everything will have the ability to be ‘smart’. For example, a smart coffee maker that has been programmed to recognise your voice or perhaps a heating system that ‘knows’ when to begin heating depending on the temperature outside.
Now a multitude of devices are internet-connected. The list of “smart” devices includes washing machines, robotic vacuum cleaners, door locks, toys, and toasters. The Internet of Things is the umbrella term, which ironically you can buy a ‘smart umbrella’ learn more here.
Kent Mundle gives a realistic description of what may easily be an everyday scenario in the near future:
“A tired business person returns to their certified IoT smart home after a long working week. The smart security system senses they are alone and initiates the “Friday Night In” sequence. An intercom with a thoughtful, comforting voice suggests they might want to order in tonight. The business person unloads their things in the kitchen where the smart stove displays a selection of take-outs, rather than its default recipe guide.”
The above scenario could easily be reality through the use of the internet of things redefining comfort and ease as we know it today.
However, the advancement of technology in IoT will not only be restricted to devices. Steve Syamnovich further writes that more cities will become “smart” as consumers won’t be the only ones using IoT devices. Cities and companies will increasingly adopt smart technologies to save time and money. This means that cities will be able to automate, remotely manage, and collect data through things like visitor kiosks, video camera surveillance systems, bike rental stations, and taxis.
Frank Greer sheds light on the reality of smart cities. The phrase “smart city” is used when a city of any size implements a framework designed to address urbanisation challenges and societal needs through sustainable practices that leverage available technology. By leveraging the power of the Internet of Things, these smart cities use cloud-based technology as well as edge devices to gather, analyse, and manage data in real-time, which can help improve the quality of life for people living there. This catch-all phrase can include services like traffic management, water and energy monitoring and distribution, and other solutions used to improve infrastructure and services such as:
- Integrating solar power in streetlights and intelligent lights that adapt to traffic needs and available light.
- Implementing smart utility metres for more efficient use of power and water resources.
- Improving options for smart public transportation.
- Streamlining trash collection and disposal for pickups when needed and not on a set collection schedule.
- Improving air quality and communication of air quality concerns.
- Decreasing traffic congestion in busy city areas.
- Improving limited space utilisation with smart parking.
- The COVID-19 pandemic which accelerated the advancement of remote monitoring, smart home devices, and data analysis solutions.
- More businesses are racing to develop better artificial intelligence solutions. These often require a network of advanced sensors and edge computers within the scope of IoT.
- IoT networks can accomplish some tasks more efficiently than centralised solutions.
It can be said that life as we know it will become more convenient with the advancement of technology in IoT. What we could only imagine some years back is now slowly becoming reality.
However, will IoT have an impact in the business world as well? How can the business world leverage the growth of IoT?
We look into this in the next article on ‘Internet of Things: The future in business.’