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Internet of Things: Basic Introduction

Updated on November 13, 2016
Every devices and every building exchanging data with each other
Every devices and every building exchanging data with each other

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is currently a trending topic being discussed everywhere. It's not a hype, it’s happening. After full implementation, it will have a huge impact on how we see our world.

But what "Internet of Things" really is? There are lots of complexities around IoT but I want to stick to the basics.

In simple words, it is a dynamic concept / vision of connecting every device with the internet and each other, anything that has an on-off switch. This includes everything from personal devices such as phones, watches to heavy machinery used in industries, basically any device you can think of. As mentioned above, if it has an on-off switch then chances are it can be connected to the internet. IoT devices are usually called Smart Devices. The analyst firm Gartner says that there will be more 26 billion devices connected to internet and will share data with each other. IoT is a massive network of connected devices. It will change the way humans interact with the world around them, in essence it is a relationship between people-people, people-devices and devices-devices.

Today only around 1~5% devices are currently connected to the internet. This means that after most devices are made into smart devices, Networks will have a lot more traffic. According to Freescale, there will be around 22x more traffic in 2020 than it is today.

How actually Internet of Things (IoT) works
How actually Internet of Things (IoT) works | Source

How Does This Impact You?

This technology will have an impact on everyone and everything, you might be thinking why should ordinary everyday devices communicate with each other? The following examples will clear any confusions you may have and will answer most of your questions.

  • You’re on the way to meet someone and there is heavy traffic on your route, your vehicle can communicate with other vehicles to calculate the traffic speed and calculate the time required to clear it while check the internet for alternative route to find the fastest route. If the time required for the fastest route is higher than the time remaining for your meeting, your vehicle will communicate with your phone and automatically inform the other party that you will be arriving late due to heavy traffic.
  • What if your alarm clock wakes you up at 6 a.m.? And then inform your coffee maker to brew a mug of coffee for you? While setting up the water temperature to your liking before the alarm goes off so that you can easily take a shower.
  • What if your home/office equipment’s knew when they are running low on resources/supplies and automatically re-ordered more so that you never run out of resources while working and won’t have to check for and order resources.
  • Don’t we hate it when we open the refrigerator and find out that the item we were looking for is not there. IoT has a solution for this. “Smart Refrigerator” can sense the items we put inside them and automatically re-order them if we are low on stock, so that we are never out of that Ice Cream or ingredients for your favorite food ever again.

IoT can be implement on a much larger scale then just homes and offices. We can implement IoT in the transportation networks, Buildings, subways, etc. This will help us make a “Smart City” which can help us to reduce the waste and improve efficiency for objects such as energy use, while reducing accidents and redirecting traffic load, etc. And in terms we will be able to create a smart country and hopefully a smart world.

By IBM

Advantages

There are many advantages for incorporating IoT into our lives, which can help our society, business and individuals.

  • IoT can assist people in their home security systems, Camera’s with face recognition and sensors for gesture recognition, can allow home owners and their families to easily enter and leave the house without the use of keys. If any unidentified person tries to enter the house it will inform the owner and ask them if that person should be granted access inside the house. The owner can then allow them to enter the house, decline their entry with a message or call the authorities depends on the person. And if camera’s and sensors catches an unidentified person trying to gain access inside the house through any other means they will call the authorities while inform the owner that a security breach has been detected at their house. The owner can check the statue of their house and the footage of the cameras any time through their smart phones / PC’s.
  • In hospitals, each patient will be given a special strap / band that will monitor their vital signs and upload it on the cloud. By tracking vital signs, doctor / staff will be informed if any abnormal activates are recorded and ambulance will be send to the patient if immediate consultation is needed.
  • An already implemented Technology in GM cars can detect if a crash has occurred, it will automatically call authorities on the car’s location. This technology can work side by side with health bands to call ambulances if abnormal vital signs are sensed.
  • In household and businesses, if any of the appliance got any defect or require maintenance, they will automatically call the related personal to come, check and fix any problems with the appliances so that the application does not create problems when the user tries to use it.
  • Another implemented technology for athletes, Ralph Lauren Polotech Shirt can monitor the biometrics of athletes and record them for the athletes to view. This can help athletes monitor their performance and help the deliver their best performance.

Disadvantages

Ethical Issues

While IoT provides endless opportunities by connecting devices in our surroundings, there are many challenges that come with it. Where it has many benefits, on the other hand security and privacy is a big issue. With billions of devices being connected with each other, we have to make sure that personal / private data should be kept secure, no one should be able steal / view your personal / private data.

Hacker should not be able to hack into IoT system to get access into your entire network or monitor your daily routine. This can lead to crimes like extortion to keep your personal files secret or serious crimes like selling corporate data or stealing corporate idea’s to make new products

Practical Issues

IoT will connect billions of devices, it will require networks that can support high data traffic resulting in high cost which has to be faced by the government and chances of network bottle-neck resulting in poor performance.

Another network related issue is downtime. If the network experiences downtime. Most devices will malfunction or stop functions at all. This can lead to a lot of issues for companies and industries. Home users will also be unable to perform normal day to day tasks.

Sometimes devices can make error while judging / sensing things, this can lead to errors that can discomfort the user. LG’s First Smart refrigerator was introduced in 2000. This refrigerator was able to sense item stock and restock them if they are low in quantity. Firstly, this refrigerator was so expensive (more than $20,000) and second this refrigerator was able to sense most products but it was unable to tell if let’s say a box of juice was empty or full. If the box was empty but inside the refrigerator it would not order more stock since it was unable to check the quantity inside the box and would think that it is full. This lead to many issues and due to those issues the 1st generation smart refrigerator was dubbed a failure.

Impact on Developers

  • Since almost all devices will be connected to the internet, network engineers have to make sure that their networks will not get jammed or experience traffic overload and they will have to improve / upgrade their network day by day to meet the IoT requirements.
  • As each device, will interact with other devices, Obviously, they will require some software to interact with other devices and share data via network. Software Engineers have to make such reliable software that supports all those features.
  • Devices will share data with each other, They will require a cloud service to store and process the data and retrieve relevant data. To process and store such a large amount of data, the cloud services must be up to the standard and must be updated at regular intervals to meet IoT Standards.
  • Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be required to Monitor changes and make decisions based on what it monitors. The AI should also analyze and share relevant data depending on context. AI designers will have to design advanced AI to meet these requirements which might change device to device.

In the end, I will like to point out that everything has some advantages and disadvantages but if advantages outweigh the disadvantages, we should adopt that technology. Therefore, in my opinion, IoT should be adopted but before doing so, we should make sure that it is secured that no one can easily hack the network and that privacy is maintained.

Internet of Things Infographic: Detailed Explanation
Internet of Things Infographic: Detailed Explanation | Source

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© 2016 Abdul Raziq Advani

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