What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

An Introduction to the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the process of connecting everyday physical items to the Internet: from common household items like light bulbs to healthcare resources like medical devices; smart personal clothing and accessories; and even smart city systems. The IoT devices inside those physical objects typically fall into one of two categories: they are switches (meaning they send instructions to an object) or they are sensors (meaning they collect the data and send it somewhere else).

An Introduction to the Internet of Things

How does the internet of things work?

The term IoT refers to systems of physical devices that receive and transfer data over wireless networks, with little human intervention. It is possible thanks to the integration of computing devices in all kinds of objects. For example, a smart ( i.e. IoT – powered ) thermostat receives location data from your smart car, and both connected devices let you adjust the temperature in your home even when you’re not there. The way traditional IoT systems work is to continuously send, receive, and analyze data in a feedback loop. Depending on the type of IoT technology, people or artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML)  systems can analyze this data almost immediately or over a period of time. For example, to know when it is ideal to check the thermostat before going home, the IoT system can connect to the Google Maps API and thus obtain current information on traffic in the area. In addition, you can use the car’s long-term data to learn about your driving habits. On the other hand, utilities have the ability to analyze customer IoT data with smart thermostats to optimize the overall system.

enterprise IoT

The IoT typically captures the attention of consumers, whose experiences with technologies such as smartwatches are affected by security and privacy concerns that come with being permanently connected. This perspective applies to all types of enterprise IoT projects, especially when the end user is the general public. IoT solutions for enterprises allow them to improve current business models and build new relationships with customers and partners, but they also come with certain challenges. The volume of data generated by a system of smart devices (known as big data ) can be daunting. The process of integrating big data into existing systems and setting up data analytics to use the information can be complicated. Security is a very important aspect to consider during the design of IoT systems. Still, for many companies it’s worth the effort: there are successful use cases in almost every industry.

IoT and edge computing

Edge computing allows for more computing power at the edges of IoT networks, to reduce communication latency between IoT devices and the IT backbones they connect to. The ability of devices to use that computing power for quick and immediate analysis of data is becoming increasingly valuable. The IoT arose from the simple need to send or receive data, but the future lies in the ability to send, receive, and analyze it with IoT applications. In a cloud computing model, computing resources and services are often concentrated in large data centers, which are accessed by IoT devices at the edge of a network. It is an approach that allows you to reduce some costs and share resources more effectively. However, for the IoT to be effective, there needs to be more computing power closer to the location of the physical devices.

Edge computing distributes computing resources to the edge of the network, while everyone else is concentrated in a cloud. This specific location delivers actionable information quickly through data that requires immediate action. A very interesting example is the coordination of a fleet of driverless vehicles transporting containers with smart tracking devices; but there are many other more practical cases, such as improving health care outcomes through data analysis at the health center. Consider the example of radio frequency identification (RFID) devices and the transportation industry: communication between the devices and the reader is always one-way. RFIDs can’t receive updates, and IT backbones can’t send data to them. This is not a 24/7 monitoring system, so logistics tracking is limited to check-ins at certain locations. However, if it were possible to coordinate the IoT device with the sensors installed in the vehicles that transport them, the IT core network could manage all the data.

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