What is IoT?

A simple description of the Internet of Things or IoT would be as a world in which things are connected to each other or to a network for the purpose of creating and treating data.

When we talk about things that are connected, we mean literally anything and everything: everyday objects, appliances, plants, machinery, animals and yes, humans too.

A connected object becomes a smart object. To turn an object into a smart object, it needs a few things. The first one is a unique identity. Then it needs to communicate; for that it needs an IP address to identify itself and connect to the Internet usually via Wi-Fi. The third requirement is for sensors that read the environment, a little like our five senses, and will create the data to be communicated.

Things can autonomously talk directly to each other, such as sensors in an automatic carwash or send information to the Cloud where it will be analysed and maybe acted upon.

This is where real world and digital world cross over and there is a merger between the two. Think of connected fridges, cars, watches, toys, etc.

What is the point?

It is not to connect everything to everything willy-nilly, clogging up the network with unnecessary data transmission and thereby wasting energy. Planning is required to obtain the right information at the right time in the right place leading to better decisions.

The result of IoT is that it moves everything from product to service.

Why should you care?

Here are some examples of the things that can be done with the IoT:

  • Monitor our health: a pacemaker is connected to the hospital and algorithms can raise a warning alarm of upcoming problems
  • Interact with our environment: farmers driving their tractors have a computer giving them pertinent information to optimise yields.
  • Improve cities: reduce pollution and energy consumption
  • Control: what is done when, the washing machine that will switch itself on following defined criteria, such as at times of low price electricity
  • Play: with a superposition of the game onto the real world around us, witness the Pokémon game recently

Imagine the bottle of champagne cooling in the fridge tweeting ‘I am now ready for your enjoyment’. How cool is that?

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