IoT, what are we talking about?

When did it start?

The term Internet of Things is 16 years old. But the actual idea of connected devices had been around longer, at least since the 70s. The actual term “Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 during his work at Procter&Gamble. Ashton who was working in supply chain optimization wanted to attract senior management’s attention to a new exciting technology called RFID. Because the internet was the hottest new trend in 1999 and because it somehow made sense, he called his presentation “Internet of Things”.

Let's talk a little bit about how IoT works.

It consists of web-enabled devices that use embedded systems, such as processors, sensors, and communication hardware to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments. They send the data by connecting to an IoT gateway and then it gets analyzed. Sometimes some devices can communicate with others to synchronize information.

IoT platforms

The cloud giants are trying to sell more than just a place to stash the data your sensors have collected. They’re offering full IoT platforms, which bundle together much of the functionality to coordinate the elements that makeup IoT systems. In essence, an IoT platform serves as middleware that connects the IoT devices and edge gateways with the applications you use to deal with the IoT data. That said, every platform vendor seems to have a slightly different definition of what an IoT platform is, the better to distance themselves from the competition.

What Industries Can Benefit from IoT?

Let's talk about some industries that benefit from using sensor devices.

“The IoT is removing mundane repetitive tasks or creating things that just weren’t possible before, enabling more people to do more rewarding tasks and leaving the machines to do the repetitive jobs.” — Grant Notman, Head of Sales and Marketing, Wood & Douglas

Let´s look at some examples to see what this look like in real life:

Imagine you wake up at 7 am 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 cancelled 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 6.45 am 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 cancelled, calculate the driving distance and travel time for your alternative route to work, check the weather and factor in slower travelling speed because of heavy rain, and calculate when it needs to wake you up so you’re not late. If it’s super-smart it might even sync with your IoT-enabled coffee maker, to ensure your morning caffeine’s ready to go when you get up.

“The truth is, homes change over time — and technology has to adapt, not try to do everything at once.” — Tony Fadell, Founder & CEO, Nest Labs

What about security and privacy?

Security is one of the biggest issues with the IoT, every object is collecting different data, in some cases very sensitive like what do you say, that’s why it should be safer. Many devices have a poor thought about basic security.

Summarizing pros and cons:

Pros:

  • ability to access information from anywhere at any time on any device;
  • improved communication between connected electronic devices;
  • transferring data packets over a connected network saving time and money; and
  • automating tasks helping to improve the quality of a business’s services and reducing the need for human intervention.

Cons:

  • As the number of connected devices increases and more information is shared between devices, the potential that a hacker could steal confidential information also increases.
  • Enterprises may eventually have to deal with massive numbers — maybe even millions — of IoT devices, and collecting and managing the data from all those devices will be challenging.
  • If there’s a bug in the system, it’s likely that every connected device will become corrupted.
  • Since there’s no international standard of compatibility for IoT, it’s difficult for devices from different manufacturers to communicate with each other.

“If you think that the internet has changed your life, think again. The IoT is about to change it all over again! “— Brendan O’Brien, Chief Architect & Co-Founder, Aria Systems

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