You’ve likely heard of the phrase “The Internet of Things”, but that doesn’t mean you know exactly what it means. So, what is the internet of things, or IoT? The IoT refers to all physical computing devices that are connected to the internet. Responsive devices around the world are able to collect and share data, such as wearables, motion sensors, and industrial machinery. The wide-spread availability of computer chips and wireless networks makes it possible to connect literally anything to the IoT. Connecting devices and adding sensors to them creates digitally-intelligent devices that communicate real-time data without human intervention.
Any physical device can be turned into an IoT device so long as it can connect to the internet and communicate information. Homeowners are increasingly adopting smart home technology that allows them to control everything from thermostats, light bulbs, and smart speakers to kitchen appliances such as coffee makers and ovens using their smartphones.
IoT usually refers to physical devices that people don’t expect to have an internet connection or the ability to function without human intervention. Computers and smartphones don’t count as IoT devices but a smart object such as a watch or fitness band does count.
Despite the overwhelming availability of endpoints and technologies, many businesses struggle with data integration, interoperability, master data, security, and analytics. IoT systems give businesses a new set of skills that help with the integration of disparate data sources, systems, people, and sensors. Connecting IoT applications doesn’t come without some common challenges.
It’s challenging to integrate IoT data to see scalable business insights, and at the rate that IoT technologies are evolving, there’s a vulnerability in protocols and standards. IoT security is essential to the deployment of IoT technology. Any business adopting IoT technology needs cybersecurity, data integration, analytics, network and communications, a data management system, device management, and app development. IoT platforms provide tailored digital solutions that connect, manage, and secure IoT devices while providing big data analytics.
Connecting billions of devices involves billions of data points that need to be secured. The drawback to the IoT is its expanded attack surface, which is why IoT security and IoT privacy are of utmost importance. Exploiting one vulnerability is all it takes for a hacker to compromise a lot of data. Connected devices also rely on users’ personal information such as phone numbers and social media accounts, which can be accessed by hackers. Like any application that is responsible for large amounts of data and sensitive information, it’s essential that critical infrastructure such as cybersecurity is in place before implementing the IoT.
The IoT changes how people live and work by allowing them to use smart devices that help them gain control over daily life by living and working smarter. The more that consumers and businesses realize the potential of connected devices, the more IoT will integrate into daily life. Businesses get real-time insights into how their systems truly perform and have the ability to automate processes and reduce costs. When businesses can monitor workflows, they can see where to improve worker productivity and cost-efficiency, how to adapt business models and make better decisions that generate higher revenue. An IoT ecosystem helps businesses rethink business approaches and improve business strategies.
The amount of real-world applications of the IoT is endless, from consumer and enterprise IoT to manufacturing and industrial IoT (IIoT). Smart home applications such as smart refrigerators and smart thermostats reduce energy use and save on monthly utilities. Wearable devices equipped with sensors transmit data messages to medical professionals and improve public safety by helping emergency workers locate victims or track the vital signs of workers on-site.
Hospitals use IoT systems for inventory management of pharmaceuticals and medical tools and are better able to monitor patients. IoT sensors and deployments in smart cities ease traffic congestion, reduce energy use, monitor environmental issues, and improve sanitation.
The Internet of Things is growing rapidly and more and more consumers realize the benefits of using IoT devices and IoT applications. From home security systems and smartwatches to IoT for industrial settings, the IoT allows consumers to live and work smarter.