What Exactly is the Internet of Things? (IoT)

Posted by on Feb 22, 2016 3:28:20 PM


Everyone is a buzz about the Internet of Things, and how tech like RFID will enable us control our technologies seamlessly. We know the Internet of Things involves things like smart homes, and having your lights turn on before you enter your house. It's going to Starbucks and having your drink ready as a result of sensors interacting with the location of your phone. 

Let's take a step back, what exactly is the Internet of Things? Most of us can name some good examples of applications of this movement, but we are hard pressed to provide a definition. 

Internet of Things: Defined

There are few definitions that you may come across when search for the Internet of Things:

  1. Oxford Dictionary (IoT was added in August 2013): A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. 
  2. Next, Wikipedia: uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure.
  3. A good definition was giving by SAP AG : A world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, and where the physical objects can become active participants in business processes. Services are available to interact with these 'smart objects' over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

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What's the Big Deal About IoT?

So why is this becoming such a big deal all of a sudden? Well, this is something that has been ramping up in the past few years because of the ever growing size and speed of the internet. Once people began to get internet on their phones, forward-thinking geeks started to wonder: What else could you plug into the internet?

At first, it seemed ridiculous. Why would you want your toaster, fridge, washer, or dryer hooked up to the internet? Then companies such as Nest began to develop and their thinking was, "What if you had your thermostat connected to the internet? What if you could turn it on remotely and adjust the temperature settings of your home from anywhere?"

Then the question changed into "What if you could build intelligence into such a device that it could learn your schedule and adjust itself accordingly?" Pretty soon that ridiculous idea was bought by Google for a whopping $3 billion!

Devices like the Nest smart thermostat are beginning to hit the mainstream because of the ease of use they provide to consumers and because of the lower cost of the components that make up these devices.


The Future Is Now (Almost)

Let’s take a quick look at the not-so-distant future. Pretty soon, washers and dryers will be WiFi-enabled in order to let you know when a load of laundry is done. Fridges will inform you when food has spoiled, when you need to pick up more milk, or if the temperature rises above a certain threshold. Your fire alarm would be connected wirelessly and send you a text message when it went off.

Everything mentioned so far currently exists. But soon enough your car will be able to sync with your internet to download maps and weather conditions, along with your favorite podcasts.

Your chair will have a pressure sensor in order to weigh you and determine your posture. Your bed will monitor your motion and determine how to provide a better way to sleep, and your sprinklers will keep track of the weather so that they don’t go off while it’s raining.

Hopefully by now you can see where this is all going. This may sound like a Sci-fi movie, but it's a lot closer than you think. In fact, the Internet of Things already exists all around you, from street lights, to buses, to water usage, and to pretty much any other measurable quantity you consume. There are little devices collecting vast amounts of data on virtually everything.

To learn more about the applications, uses and future of the Internet of Things take a look at this infographic:


Originally on Quora

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