What Is the Internet of Things?
Nowadays, we often see the term “Internet of Things” being mentioned in tech news. But what exactly is the IoT and how can it affect our lives? To get a better understanding of the IoT, let’s start at the beginning.
The History of the Internet of Things
The concept of making regular objects intelligent by using sensors and microchips had been discussed as early as the 1980s. In fact, a vending machine that can connect to the Internet was created in 1982. It was smart enough to tell anyone connected to it its inventory and when the drinks were cold enough for drinking. This modified Coke machine is the ancestor of the IoT devices of today.
Seventeen years later, in a presentation to Procter & Gamble (P&G) about radio frequency ID (FRID), Kevin Ashton, the co-founder of MIT’s Auto-ID Center, mentioned the term “Internet of Things”. However, it still took years after the birth of this term for the vision to start unfolding.
How Does the Internet of Things Work?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system comprised of people, animals and devices that can communicate with each other using the Internet. Processors, sensors and wireless networks enable these devices to share data with one another. It also gives them limited intelligence that sets them apart from regular objects.
The manufacturing industry is one of the sectors that will benefit the most from the IoT. Since machines can now talk to one another, factories can run themselves with minimal supervision. While this means that the number of people working in these factories will go down, it spells less operational costs for the manufacturing companies.
Healthcare is also being improved by the IoT since it can help health providers monitor their patients and gather data. On the other hand, in agriculture, smart farming systems can now monitor the different factors that can affect the crop fields and greenhouses. This includes monitoring soil moisture, humidity, light and temperature.
To give you a much better idea, here are some examples of IoT devices:
- The GLAS is a smart thermostat that was launched by Johnson Controls in partnership with Microsoft. Powered by Windows 10 IoT core, it can independently make necessary adjustments that will give you a better home environment and more.
- With the help of the voice assistant Alexa, the Amazon Echo Smart Home can help you control other smart home devices like door locks, lighting, cameras and entertainment systems.
- The FitBit One is an example of a wearable IoT device. Not only can it monitor your steps, sleep quality and calories burned, this device can also connect to your smartphone and computer to create charts that will help you understand your progress.
- Even your furry friends can benefit from the IoT thanks to the Petnet SmartFeeder. It can calculate how much food your pets should be eating as well as notify you once you’re low on pet food. There’s also a SmartDelivery feature that will have the device automatically ordering more pet food once you’ve ran out.
What Is Next for the Internet of Things?
An estimate by Gartner predicts that there’ll be about 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020. This is a reasonable assessment since the sensors and other technology used in IoT devices are continuously being developed, making them cheaper, smaller and more efficient.
However, before the Internet of Things era really start to unfold, security and privacy issues need to be tackled first to ensure the safety of the consumers. A reliable standard that all companies manufacturing IoT devices can follow needs to be created first.