The Internet of Things (IoT) Explained
There is a lot of noise surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT), but it is no longer a buzzword. It is the interconnectivity of the world around us, bringing the Internet’s power to physical objects. Still not sure about IoT and how it works? We don’t blame you. While there is heaps of information out there, we feel it is our job to bring clarity to those who are non-technical. And so, here is the Internet of Things (IoT) explained in simple and non-technical terms.
What is The Internet of Things (IoT)
In a nutshell, IoT refers to a wide range of technologies designed to collect, process, analyze and communicate data to a network and ultimately complete various tasks – such as switching on your lights or moving products around an industrial warehouse. IoT offers network connectivity to devices, buildings, vehicles, and other items that previously were not Internet-enabled, providing a never before possible functionality. These devices and functions often require very little human intervention, and they certainly do not require the traditional keyboard and screen combo.
IoT has not only received a lot of attention from consumers who enjoy the benefits of smart speakers, digital assistants, household appliances, fitness trackers, and much more, but the corporate world is equally benefiting from the IoT. For organizations, the IoT brings efficiencies in manufacturing, distribution, tracking assets, data acquisition, supervisory control, and reducing manual processes. IoT is also growing in use across the government sector and key public areas.
The Scale Of The IoT Market
It might come as a surprise to some, but the number of IoT devices has surpassed humans’ number on Earth. As of 2020, it is believed there are more than 50 billion IoT devices, and those devices are set to generate 4.4 zettabytes (a zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes) of data in this year alone. As a comparison, in 2013, the data produced by IoT was only 0.1 zettabytes. In 2018, the IoT market was valued at $212.1 billion, but it is expected that the IoT market’s value will rise to $1319.08 billion globally by 2026. While the numbers are astonishing, the market is said to only be in its infancy.
What Are IoT Devices
IoT devices extend Internet connection beyond traditional devices such as smartphones or computers. An IoT device is one that can connect to the Internet and is integrated with technology such as sensors, actuators, functional software, and inbuilt technology that has the capability to support network connections. Think devices that were traditionally not connected to the Internet, such as watches- they used to tell the time and date. However, with IoT watches, the functionalities have increased significantly, enabling measuring a person’s heart rate, steps walked, and calories burned. Other examples of IoT devices include anything from wireless home security functions, manufacturing robots or vehicles moving products across industrial settings.
How Does IoT Work
The main objective of IoT is to have equipment that can self-report in real-time by collecting, processing, and analyzing data. This manifests in improved efficiency as the information is processed much faster than human intervention. There are zettabytes of data being collected and processed by IoT devices. The volume and complexity of such information is more extensive than any human can deal with. Given that IoT systems collect and process data in real-time, businesses can make decisions in real-time, often without any human intervention.
There are complex technological architectures and protocols at play that enable the process of IoT systems, the nuts and bolts of which are beyond the scope of this article. However, as an illustration, and in a nutshell, the IoT functions through equipment and devices that contain sensors enabling data collection about their environment. The IoT devices also have processors that tell them what to do and ensure the data transmission from the device to hardware that acts as a data center or the Cloud. The data is then processed and analyzed, often with the help of advanced algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and edge computing.
How IoT is Transforming Business
From increased efficiency and productivity to improving customer experiences, the list of IoT technology benefits is endless. Creating great customer experiences is vital for any business nowadays. With the use of technologies offered by IoT, the goals of achieving personalized targeting can be achieved in ways that were utterly unheard of not so long ago. But it does not stop there; businesses can now manage and track their assets by utilizing the complete visibility of all their locations. The same goes for business security, monitoring, and even energy use. IoT technology can bring many advantages to any organization, ultimately leading to limitless growth and scalability. That being said, all implementations should be carefully weighed out and integrated into coherent business strategies. Security and privacy are key issues to consider and should be managed through a stringent set of policies and procedures.
The Future of IoT
Given the prospect of increased network agility, integrated AI, and the capacity to organize, automate, program, and secure information at hyper-scale, it would not be over optimistic to say that IoT prospects are limitless. No doubt, a sense and pursuit of empowerment is to emerge, alongside overwhelm. This is why we hope that the IoT system architectures will be complemented and supported by reliable security and privacy regulations. Nevertheless, it is an exciting technology to watch.