In the age of voice-powered devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home, we continuously hear the term Internet of Things. What are these things, and how do they matter? Read the article to find out more and understand what IoT actually is.
What is IoT?
Internet of Things is an interconnection of devices that are able to perform a specified function without the need for human intervention. These devices that perform a function are what are known as ‘things’ in the Internet of Things. The main aim of IoT is to be able to perform functions without a human having to instruct the device more than once.
Smart home example:
Let us take an example of a Smart Home for the purpose of understanding what IoT actually is. Imagine that you are headed home, and you just sit in your car at the workplace. You instantly get a notification on your phone that some items from your fridge are missing along with a picture of the inside of the fridge. You can then proceed to the grocery shop to purchase these things. Things that are not required fresh, like packed items in tin cans, are ordered automatically. As soon as you reach home and open your door, the lights in your house switch on automatically. As you go out of a room, the lights turn off automatically.
The kettle has already made a cup of coffee for you to enjoy in the evening. These are just some of the things that happen in a smart home.
Analysis of how smart home works:
Now, in this example, there is a lot of ‘sensing’ that is going on. The IoT devices sense that you are getting into your car. The fridge senses what is missing and places an online order for some items. The lights sense that you are in the room and turn on and off accordingly, the coffee maker turns on as soon as you reach home so that hot coffee is ready for you. All these things make life easier for us, and that is the ultimate goal of IoT.
There are three processes that make up an IoT environment, first is sensing, the second is processing, and the third is actuating, in simple words, the door senses that you are opening it and it processes this information, as a result of this process, it is determined that the lights have to be turned on, so a command is sent to all the lights in the house to turn on. This turning on is the actuating.
IoT uses a network of devices that are connected to each other and work with each other to make jobs easier for you. These devices are all fitted with a microcontroller or are connected to a cloud service that does all the analyzing for you. This is what IoT basically is.
Where can IoT be used?
The short answer to this question is that IoT can be used anywhere where human intervention is usually required. Need to turn on the washing machine, attach an IoT device to do it for you. Need to water the plants, get a smart watering system for your plants that turn on the water when there is dryness, get a smart gas sensor that tells you when there is a gas leak in your house, the possibilities are endless with IoT.
The Internet of Things is now being used in major industries as well to automate the workflow and to improve the efficiency of the production. IoT is also being used by government agencies to build smart signals that detect traffic and adjust the traffic signals accordingly. Smart street lighting is another place where IoT devices are being used to limit energy consumption.
It is estimated that by 2020, there will be more IoT devices in the world then there are people. This estimation only shows us how IoT and IoT assisted technologies are becoming more evolved day by day.
How are IoT devices different from normal devices?
The main difference from an IoT enabled light and a regular light is a method by which it turns on. An IoT smart light can turn on without anyone having to flip a switch. A regular one will need someone to turn on the switch to turn on the bulb physically.
An Internet of Things device may consist of a communication module like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or other such technologies to receive commands wirelessly. These devices might also have a small microcontroller built into them to process the information they receive and relays to supply power to the main device. A working internet connection is required for an IoT device to receive signals and work properly, and hence there must also be a gateway or a router that helps to connect these devices to the internet.