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What is the Internet of Things, or 5 Reasons to Adopt IoT technology

Updated on January 12, 2016

New IoT solutions hit the market on a regular basis. We live in smart houses, enjoy interactive mobile apps and monitor physical activity with the help wearable computers. By 2017, the number of connected devices is projected to reach 28.4 billion. However, most consumers (around 87%, according to The Acquity Group’s 2014 survey) don’t know what the Internet of things is and how it’s supposed to improve their lives.

How does Internet of things work?

The “IoT” term was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, a notable British high tech entrepreneur. He used the abbreviation in reference to some kind of environment where different objects equipped with unique identifiers could possibly collect valuable data and exchange it over a network. Ashton believes people lack accuracy, time and attention to capture and process large amount of information.

Thus, the primary task of IoT is to reduce(or even eliminate) human-to-human/human-to-computer interaction.

We all know what the Internet is, right? It’s high time we revealed the mystery of “things”. Any device, be it a wearable fitness tracker or a heart monitor implant, can be a “thing”. It is sensors that make these devices smart. Sensors gather and evaluate all types of data (heartbeat rate, temperature, road traffic intensity, fuel consumption, etc.). Naturally, this information has to be going somewhere.

Smart objects connect to a parent network via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to transfer data and interact with each other. The connection usually requires a hub – a portable device that plugs into a Wi-Fi router and builds a wireless network of smart gadgets (aka “connected environment”).

Sensor readings are sent to the Cloud for further analysis. Once the data is processed, a notification is delivered to a user’s smartphone (tablet, desktop computer). That’s how you learn whether you’ve run out of fuel, need to cut down on carbs or could do with a new heating system.

Ok, got it. But how does an Internet of Things device work with a smartphone? Is another connection required? Not really. IoT companies address custom mobile application developers to design software for particular smart gadgets.

For those who still question IoT’s potential, here’s a curious case study from Shaspa and IBM. The two enterprises partnered to create a comprehensive smart home system for thermostats, lighting and security sensors. They managed to connect IoT gadgets from multiple manufacturers to the service delivery platform via Shaspa Bridge. The famous Google Glass (which also incorporates augmented reality) is nothing but an IoT solution. Smart devices and applications are employed by Tesla Motors, UPS and Uber.

The fact that the world’s largest companies have shown considerable interest in connected environments speaks for itself: IoT is here to stay.

5 IoT benefits you can’t ignore

  • Improved productivity. Smart devices decrease time we spend on commuting (TomTom’s road traffic monitoring system), data collection and documentation management;
  • Effective marketing. With the help of IoT devices companies can build comprehensive consumer databases, study buying patterns and adjust marketing strategy according to customers’ needs;
  • Accurate stats. IoT enterprise programs like Wialon (fleet management and GPS tracking system) deliver comprehensive reports on fuel consumption, vehicles’ whereabouts and staff performance;
  • Cost reduction. Accurate data analysis provides new opportunities for cost optimization. Interactive heating systems, for instance, reduce energy consumption by 30%. Same concerns smart grids. By implementing IoT programs, civilian agencies could save over $ 470 billion (Cisco worldwide stats);
  • Social impact. With the adoption of IoT smart solutions, we may finally bring healthcare and education to the next level. Connected devices allow doctors to make clear diagnoses, prescribe adequate treatment (the Watson computer), improve patient education and medication dispensing adherence. Some notable IoT devices for education have already hit the virtual shelves. Now you can take notes with the Digital Highlighter (which scans printed text and transfers data to a smartphone) and learn faster with the interactive SMART whiteboard.

Top reasons why the Internet of smart things is not the next Web (yet

According to Wim Elfrink (Cisco’s executive), the current IoT environment comprises just 1% of all digital devices that could be connected to the Web. Assuming the fact IoT offers clear financial benefits for businesses and individual consumers, there must be strong reasons against its massive adoption.

  • Security challenges. Smart gadgets usually have limited computing power and do not employ proper data encryption and authentication methods. The market fragmentation is another obstacle, since most smart gadgets are not developed with the interoperability principle in mind. Also, there’s a lack of security protocols for IoT devices. The sooner IT companies address these challenges, the better;
  • Competition. The Internet of Everything sounds great. Yet, the concept presupposes total connectivity and interoperability. Big IoT vendors like Apple and Samsung are less than likely to accept the open standards policy – at least, not now;
  • Development costs. Powerful microprocessors and qualified programmers don’t come cheap. If companies that manufacture IoT devices take the “quality-over-quantity” approach, prices will skyrocket. The market is immature and, therefore, relies on mass consumption.

What is the Internet of connected Things? It is a concept (and a new way of thinking!) that will definitely dominate our lives in the future. Still, IoT is decentralized. The domain needs a leader to control the market, drive innovation and introduce universal security standards.

As of now, the vendor in question is nowhere to be found.

How does the Internet of Things work?

Do you think IoT is the future of the Internet?

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