The “Internet of things” (IoT) is a term that is gaining popularity in many tech circles and many conversations on and offline. While there are some who fully understand this term, many people have not yet wrapped their minds around what the term means and how it can impact daily life. This article will attempt to demystify and provide a very simple explanation of the term “Internet of Things,” and how the IoT will ultimately become a common place expression and a seamlessly integrated concept in everyday life.
Let’s begin with the basics. Internet access is becoming more readily available and the costs of connecting are becoming less expensive. In addition to that, it is becoming the norm for many devices to be manufactured with wireless capabilities. With decreased costs for internet access, increased internet availability, and an increased number of Wi-Fi ready devices, this creates an enormous opportunity for a huge network of communication of devices and “things,” thus creating the “Internet of Things.” Essentially, the IoT, is a huge network composed of devices, people, machines, etc., that communicate via the internet.
The Internet of Things, is essentially a communication system of related mechanical or digital devices, animals or people that are given unique identifiers and has the ability to communicate or talk to each other without requiring any human-to-human or human-to-machine interaction. In simple terms, by using the internet, the IoT connects people-to-people, people-to-thing, and thing-to-thing.
The IoT impacts our daily lives because anything that can be connected ultimately will be connected. So, how can everything being connected be of benefit to you, you may ask? Here’s how. Take for example an application such as Google Maps. Google Maps not only provides routes to specific destinations, it will alert you of any accidents or traffic delays on your prescribed route. It does this through several methods such as road sensors if they are available, and detecting the movement of other connected devices in the area. By using connected smartphones, Google logically determine if traffic has slowed and whether or not to offer you an alternative route or alert you of an accident.
Another example of how IoT impacts daily life for some could be caring for children. Several daycare centers have cameras parents can log in to via an application or a website to view their child in real time. These types of systems allow parents to connect with the daycare and check in on their child without actually having to physically be at the location.
Here are five more real world applications of the IoT.
Smart home and smart home devices are one of the fastest growing areas of the IoT and companies are actively creating technology to automatically perform some of the home management tasks people currently perform manually. Take for example, turning the air conditioner on and off based on outside temperature or automatically unlocking the doors to a home as the homeowner enters the driveway or approaches the door. These are features that could only be made possible by the IoT and connecting various devices allowing them to share data.
Wearable technology is a booming sector and is made possible by the IoT. Companies such as Apple, Google, and Samsung have created wearable devices that can perform a variety of functions through the use of sensors and software. For example the Apple watch allows you to send text message, measure the number of steps you have taken, and listen to music. All of these functions can be performed using one connected device. As wearable technology evolves, it may one day be able to detect if an individual is having a heart attack and automatically call 911 and provide your location using the device’s GPS feature. With the IoT, this is a very real possibility.
Self-driving cars are a product of the IoT. These cars are equipped with technology to communicate with smart roads and other vehicles. As self-driving cars begin to become more prevalent, technology and smart road infrastructure will continue to develop and evolve. Infrastructure will be created to specifically support communication between the cars on the road, law enforcement, drivers, etc.
The Internet of Things is still in its infancy stages. The possibilities of are endless. Perhaps one day you will be able to accept an invitation to a birthday party, have it automatically added to your calendar on your smartphone, automatically purchase a gift for the person online, and on the day of the party, have the directions to the location ready to go once you enter the car. While this may seem a bit far-fetched, each one of the operations occur using the internet and could essentially all communicate with each other.
Take a step back and look at how the internet has evolved just over the past 10 years. Could anyone have predicted the growth of Facebook, YouTube, or Netflix? Each of these applications are driven by user preferences and in some cases searches performed on the internet outside the platforms. The Internet of Things is growing and evolving with each passing day and will continue to offer conveniences and connectivity to all aspects of your daily lives.