What is the Internet of Things and how is it different from the usual Internet? What does IoT mean? Is this name just a trendy word or does it reflect the near future of human civilization?
Today’s Internet is a global network that brings users together to communicate with each other. This means that the World Wide Web is made up of people, client devices and servers. Thus, the usual Internet can be called the “people’s Internet” – with data created, modified, sent and received by people.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of objects that interact with each other using built-in sensors without human intervention. Connected devices themselves create, modify, delete, send, exchange data with each other and use this data for decision-making. Consequently, IoT is a gigantic network of connected “things” that “communicate” with each other.
How does the Internet of Things work?
The Internet of Things consists of web devices that collect, transmit, and process information using built-in sensors, processors, and communication equipment. A complete IoT system integrates several individual components: sensors, connection, data processing, user interface.
- Using sensors to collect data from your environment. Several sensors can be combined with each other or can be part of a device. For example, your phone has several sensors (camera, accelerometer, GPS).
- The method of connection. The information received from the sensors must be sent to the corporate server in the cloud for processing. For this purpose it is possible to use Wi-Fi connection, cellular or satellite communication, low-power wide range networks (LPWAN), and also Bluetooth for direct connection of objects of closer range.
- The method of processing the received data. Once connected, devices can communicate with each other in only one language (i.e. devices must be able to decode the data they receive). This is a big problem. The existence of a large number of potential “languages” causes one device to be unable to handle data coming from different languages. This is why many IoT platforms use “interpreters”.
- The user interface. These are internet, mobile and hybrid IoT applications that allow users to manage connected devices through their smartphones, PCs or tablets.
- Smart Home. This is the most popular application of the Internet of Things at the moment. Smart Home is the most affordable technology for the average person. From Amazon Echo to the Nest thermostat, there are hundreds of devices you can control with your voice to make your life more comfortable than ever.
- Wearable devices. It’s technology that allows a person to track their daily activities with devices that can be worn. Apple Watch and other smart clocks synchronize with your smartphone to exchange text messages, make phone calls, receive important notifications, launch your own apps, search the World Wide Web with your voice and much more. And devices like Fitbit and Jawbone help you control your exercise by displaying information about your workout such as heart rate and body temperature.
- Smart Cities. The Internet of Things has the potential to transform an entire city by solving the real problems that its citizens face every day. Through the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), the Internet of Things can solve the issues of improving infrastructure, efficiency, convenience, quality of life. For example, it can improve energy distribution, optimize waste collection, reduce traffic congestion and even improve air quality.
- Connected Cars. These vehicles are equipped with Internet access as well as wireless LANs. Connected Cars have various functions, such as: navigation, self-diagnostics of the car system, control of gestures or voice commands, parking assistance, the ability to safely manage, fleet management, tracking other vehicles and many others.
The Future of the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the world more than anyone could have imagined a few years ago. The achievements of this technology will continue to shape the future development of all humankind. The real figures for the connected devices are stunning. Statista estimates that last year there were over 17.6 billion connected devices. This number is predicted to double by 2020 (34 billion).
Of course, humanity needs to consider the implications of smart systems that can make its own decisions. It is necessary to think about the trust and security problems inherent in a future world. We need to find an answer to the question: what will happen when all the tasks that people perform are completely dependent on a multitude of smart devices.