Monday 25 January 2021

Internet of Things (IoT): What is IoT, Technology & Benefits

What is IoT?

Over the past few years, you may have heard of the latest buzzword ‘IoT’ or “Internet of Things”. It seems to have started as a whisper but now there is a lot of noise about it. But what is IoT? And what makes it so special? Read on to know about the Internet of Things.

What is Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things or IoT is the process of connecting everyday objects to the internet as a way to control them. It is a simple concept, wherein software, sensors, and other such technologies are added into the hardware of the objects so that they connect to the internet as well as to other devices.  

How common is the use of IoT?

There is an extraordinary amount of objects that are a part of the IoT revolution. It is likely that there is something you currently use that is part of the IoT. One of the most popular wearable IoT is the fitness tracker smart band that tracks and measures people’s health. IoT is used in agricultural equipment connected to satellite systems that allow for ‘precision farming’. It also enables smart home security systems that connect to your smartphone allowing you to monitor your home efficiently from afar. Today, IoT is present in every sphere of technology and industry.

What is the history of the IoT?

The IoT may seem like a recent phenomenon so it may come as a surprise that the term ‘Internet of Things’ was coined in 1999 by technology pioneer, Kevin Ashton. The idea of connecting objects to the internet is not a new one and there were rumblings of it from the 1980s and perhaps, even earlier. The technology had not yet made it possible then. Computer chips were initially too big and too expensive. It took the availability of low-cost and low-power chips along with the wide availability of wireless and cellular networking and broadband internet to make IoT more than just a pipe dream. 

How big is it?

IoT is a hidden revolution taking over the world. As of 2020, there were over 50 billion IoT devices. Those devices were estimated to generate 4.4 zettabytes of data. For the uninitiated, a zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes. That is a staggering amount of data. And while IoT has its biggest implications in industry, there has been an increasing adoption of IoT on a personal front with wearable devices and smart home technologies. Experts state that utilities will be the highest user of IoT because of smart meters. And security devices will be the second-biggest user of IOT. Automation is considered to be the fastest-growing sector using IoT, followed by automotive, and healthcare.

What is the Industrial Internet of Things?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the implementation of IoT technology in industrial settings. It is also called the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 because of the way IoT has revolutionised industry. Here, a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, and wireless networks are used to transform and optimise industrial processes. The keyword for IIoT is machine to machine communication (M2M). The idea is to reduce the need for human intervention and human error as much as possible so that automation could be achieved at the highest level. 

What benefits does IOT offer for business?

The use of IoT in business can be broadly categorised into two groups—industry-specific products and cross-industry IoT (products that can be used by all industries). Here are some of the benefits that IoT has for business: 

  • Invaluable real-time, comprehensive data collection and analysis 
  • Heightened  responsiveness and efficiency of production systems and supply chain
  • Can help create new revenue streams and business models
  • Can provide data that help businesses analyse and understand their consumers better
  • Reduction of operating costs
  • Increased work safety 

What benefits does IoT offer for consumers?

IoT has made smart homes the latest buzzword. Google Home or Amazon’s Echo are examples of IoT at home. IoT allows consumers to unite a wide range of home appliances into one network, allowing them to communicate with each other. Today, IoT home automation helps keep older and disabled people independent by allowing them to manage their homes more efficiently and easily. 

World-famous Tesla cars can be considered a part of the IoT. Indeed, any connected car that connects to the internet and allows its owners to operate them remotely is a part of the IoT revolution.

Security, privacy, and IoT

Security, privacy, and the collection of sensitive data are the biggest concerns related to IoT. Too often, IoT devices do a poor job of encrypting the data they receive.  The prevalent use of IoTdevices with flaws in their software has left them vulnerable to hackers. Hackers have been able to track user location, listen to conversations as well as communicate with users via internet-connected smartwatches. The implications when it comes to the industry are even worse as security flaws leave businesses exposed to potential industrial espionage. Hackers could target industrial equipment and infrastructure with catastrophic results endangering both life and business. 

WiFi-enabled products are edging out ‘dumb’ products that do not connect to the internet. It is becoming increasingly difficult to purchase products that are not trackable. It does not occur to most people that the seemingly harmless device on or near them could be monitoring them closely. IoT products can give a shockingly detailed picture of user’s lives. Consumers and businesses must demand greater privacy and security protection so that their data, devices, and equipment aren’t at the mercy of hackers, data breaches, and corporate surveillance. Technical and security standardisation for IoT is a must.

The bottom line

For all its advancements, IoT is still in its nascent stages. But there is no doubt that innovation will bring IoT to the forefront of technological advancement. And it is exciting to see where it will take IoT in the future and the impact it will have on our lives.





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