|By Ian Khan||
|December 19, 2015 10:00 AM EST||
What Is the Internet of Things, Why It Matters and What You Should Do About It
This article first appeared on the Solgeniakhela Blog
A friend recently asked me to explain what IoT really stood for, not what the definition meant, and to describe the implications of IoT. To help everyone else who has the same questions, here is a concise explanation of everything you need to know about the Internet of Things (IoT) and related technologies.
What Is IoT
IoT is short for the Internet of Things. It's the name of the technology that allows IP address-enabled sensors to perform a specific task by measuring a certain unit and potentially responding to input and creating a response through other connected mechanisms. Other terms such as Internet of Everything (IoE), Internet of Devices (IoD) and so on are just variations of the main term - IoT.
Here is an example. An IoT-powered skateboard that's connected to the Internet in some way in its simplest form can measure the distance its rider has travelled. This information may be relayed to a system that is collecting the information, perhaps a smartphone with an app built by the skateboard manufacturer for this very purpose. We now have an Internet-connected skateboard.
At a deeper and more complex level, and dependent on a higher technological design, consider that the skateboard has wheels that have two features. A sensor that is again able to measure distance and time and motor-powered wheels that are able to transmit a command from a central brain on the skateboard that in turn can be connected to a smartphone and controlled remotely. We now have a skateboard that can be controlled and can also provide us with more information on which we base our decisions of where to take it next. This is the concept of the Internet of Things.
Apply this to any device and any application and let your mind go wild. We are now talking about such a vast array of things from diapers to spaceships. Devices and objects will become intelligent and will be connected to the Internet, exchanging thousands of gigabytes of data every day and maybe every minute.
Consider this - a single Boeing 787 flight today creates around half a terrabyte of data and that's without a proliferation of IoT devices. Now imagine an airline fitted with all kinds of IoT devices that create passenger experience completely different from what it is right now. This changes everything. From the airline now flying a highly connected and potentially efficient aircraft to passengers who get an experience like never before and, in the middle, technicians, data analysts, decision makers and others whose every task is to analyze all the data coming from every IoT sensor on the plane and ensure a better result overall in every way, be it a passenger experience, flight schedule optimization, optimizing fuel efficiency, and so on.
The Internet of Things poses a great opportunity to make many things better. Dive deeper into the technology - a colossal leap from the launch of the Internet, which was considered a giant step - and the Internet of Things will do things in an unprecedented way. With over 50 billion devices expected to be connected to the Internet by 2020, leading analysts are touching what would be the tip of the iceberg. What would follow after 2020 would be a huge spike in the deployment of IoT devices across our personal and work lives. Most likely everything we have would be connected to the Internet in some way and as the laws of commercializing technology go, we are probably looking for a tremendous expansion of the IoT-powered world. As new companies and manufacturers try to capitalize on the bigger and more popular things being powered and connected to the Internet, niche players will also likely see an increase in growth.
The Internet of Things is also connected to the idea of the Internet of Everything, or the Internet of Objects and so on. These are terms for the same technology defined in a different way.
After all is said and done, how can you benefit from IoT?
IoT for Consumers
As a consumer all you can do is sit back and wait for the plethora of Internet-enabled devices to roll your way. Yes the electronics stores are going to have a ball. Just because mass-produced IoT devices will be useful and popular, as a business grows so will the quality of devices and the uniqueness of the devices hit the market. Some of the expectations consumers should have are IoT devices that help them do tasks better and more efficiently, measuring and monitoring devices, changes, and overall helping us deriving more value out of everything we do. The idea of cars being able to communicate with each other is very common and is a direct derivative of IoT in the automotive industry. In the healthcare industry IoT can address better patient care, with improved diagnostics and better communication between healthcare providers and patients. In schools IoT devices can help deliver a better educational experience to students, and at home they can help make your home more efficient, comfortable and safe. The possibilities are endless.
IoT for Businesses
No matter what business you are in, your world will be filled with IoT devices. Logistics, energy, consumer goods, healthcare, you name it and there are applications (many of them even today) that are Internet connected and can perform various functions. The best advice for you is to be aware of the changing landscape in business and start leveraging technology to offer more value to your customers. You can also get involved in the IoT world yourself by creating unique devices that serve a purpose and solve a problem. IoT today is being used in industries such as oil and gas to monitor oil flow through pipelines, in smart meters to help measure and optimize the delivery and consumption of electricity, and in mining to monitor logistics. We are just getting started.
Regardless of who you are and what you do, the next few years are going to see unprecedented development in technology overall, especially through the development of IoT devices. The Internet of Things framework, technology or platform - call it what you like - is perhaps a much bigger technology than we have ever seen. Some also call it bigger than the Internet itself. While we are still in the early days of the technology growing and commercializing, there is definitely a movement that is taking place. Innovation is growing day by day with newer devices and ideas being created that make IoT applicable and valuable in many ways. Be part of this revolution today by keeping abreast of the latest technology news, and by engaging in meaningful dialogue about IoT with your friends, colleagues and peers. You never know where a simple conversation may lead.
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