Internet of Things (IoT) is an ecosystem of connected physical objects that are accessible through the internet. The ‘thing’ in IoT could be a person with a heart monitor or an automobile with built-in-sensors, i.e. objects that have been assigned an IP address and have the ability to collect and transfer data over a network without manual assistance or intervention.
Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.
How does it work?
Devices and objects with built-in sensors are connected to an Internet of Things platform, which integrates data from the different devices and applies analytics to share the most valuable information with applications built to address specific needs. These powerful IoT platforms can pinpoint exactly what information is useful and what can safely be ignored. This information can be used to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems before they occur.
How can IoT help?
IoT platforms can help organizations reduce cost through improved process efficiency, asset utilization, and productivity. With improved tracking of devices/objects using sensors and connectivity, they can benefit from real-time insights and analytics, which would help them make smarter decisions. The growth and convergence of data, processes, and things on the internet would make such connections more relevant and important, creating more opportunities for people, businesses, and industries. Let’s look at some real-life examples of IoT.
Scenario #1: IoT in your home
Imagine you wake up at 7am every day to go to work. Your alarm clock does the job of waking you just fine. That is until something goes wrong. Your train’s canceled and you have to drive to work instead. The only problem is that it takes longer to drive, and you would have needed to get up at 6.45am to avoid being late. Oh, and it’s pouring with rain, so you’ll need to drive slower than usual. A connected or IoT-enabled alarm clock would reset itself based on all these factors, to ensure you got to work on time. It could recognize that your usual train is canceled, calculate the driving distance and travel time for your alternative route to work, check the weather and factor in slower traveling speed because of heavy rain, and calculate when it needs to wake you up so you’re not late. If it’s super-smart if might even sync with your IoT-enabled coffee maker, to ensure your morning caffeine’s ready to go when you get up.
Scenario #2: IoT in transport
Having been woken by your smart alarm, you’re now driving to work. On comes the engine light. You’d rather not head straight to the garage, but what if it’s something urgent? In a connected car, the sensor that triggered the check engine light would communicate with others in the car. A component called the diagnostic bus collects data from these sensors and passes it to a gateway in the car, which sends the most relevant information to the manufacturer’s platform. The manufacturer can use data from the car to offer you an appointment to get the part fixed, send you directions to the nearest dealer, and make sure the correct replacement part is ordered so it’s ready for you when you show up.
Everything new and shiny has downsides, and security and privacy are the biggest challenges for IoT. All these devices and systems collect a lot of personal data about people – that smart meter knows when you’re home and what electronics you use when you’re there – and it’s shared with other devices and held in databases by companies.
Security experts argue that not enough is being done to build security and privacy into IoT and to prove their point hackers have hacked lots of devices, from connected baby monitors to automated lighting and smart fridges, as well as city wide systems such as traffic signals.
Even though IoT is relatively safe, there’s no guarantee, and so far not enough is being done to ensure IoT isn’t the next big hacking target.
Find out more
We’ve got lots of examples that show the Internet of Things in action and several topics related to IoT. Read at www.iot.qa. Let us know in the comments below.