One cannot accurately describe the “internet of things” (IoT) without taking a look at the “internet of people”. The internet as we know it today is used by people as a primary means of communication. Its ability to deliver communications at lightning fast speeds has made the internet a favorite over methods that were used in the past. Prior methods of communication like the sending letters by post or long conversations over the phone have subsequently been sent to an early grave due to the mass adoption of internet.
The interconnectivity of the internet regardless of distance is what made the internet alluring enough for people to ditch former communication methods.
As with all things technology, the “internet of people” has evolved into the “internet of things” using the same principles that enabled people to communicate regardless of their location. This ability to communicate enabled the building of both business and personal relationships on a scale never seen before.
So one may ask? How is the internet being used any differently than it was in the past? The internet is no longer being used only as a communication method between people but also as a tool to enable communication between devices, hence, the phrase internet of things or IoT, as we shall refer to it from this point forward.
IoT’s is made possible by application of sensors to devices or inanimate objects so they can feel, and the data received as feedback that they use to communicate with other devices.
What Are Sensors?
Sensors are devices that are used to detect changes in the environment. The data gathered by these sensors are then sent to a computer that gathers and records whatever was sensed by the object in question. In other words, people use our five senses (touch, smell, sight, sound and taste) to interact with the environment and each other. Inanimate objects or devices use sensors to interact with their environment and other devices.
How Do Things Communicate?
Using the same interconnectivity that the internet provides, inanimate objects use sensors to pick up communications from other devices and using the feedback that they got from interconnected devices, they take the necessary actions they have been programmed to perform.
What is the role of data in the IoT Ecosystem?
The data collected from the sensors that the devices are enabled with are used for multiple purposes. They are used to perfect the system as they are a feedback mechanism which lets IoT scientist gain knowledge about how the devices communicate. The data sent out as output from the sensor on the IoT devices is also how the devices communicate with each other.
An Illustration of IoT
To illustrate how IoT works, let us create an imaginary patron of IoT. We will use Bob, A forty-three-year-old father of three as the subject of our illustration. Bob has a heart problem, so he has decided to wear an IoT-enabled fitness tracker that monitors his heart rate, sleep patterns and other vital information pertaining to his health.
His fitness tracker is programmed to be able to communicate with his thermostat so that as it monitors his sleep, the tracker alters the room temperature via the thermostat to ensure it’s at the temperature that ensures an adequate amount of sleep.
If Bob’s heartrate were to rise or fall below accepted levels, the fitness tracker on his arm can be programmed to start vibrating violently, while also sending a message via email to Bob’s physician. The device simultaneously alerts an emergency response team that dispatches an ambulance to pick Bob up from home before he goes into complete cardiac arrest. While Bob is on his way to the hospital, his doctor was able to enact a treatment plan before Bob’s arrival. In the scenario we have just described, IoT just saved Bob’s life.
The application for IoT, however, does not stop with our imaginary illustration. IoT is being applied to cars, so they can communicate with your phone or other devices you wish to pair them with. Home security, retail and health are a few sectors also seeing IoT being put to use.
Enterprise level IoT, i.e business-level applications have seen an explosion of investment capital due to the promise of IoT in business. The use of IoT in manufacturing has grown exponentially which is good news. The downside however are the negative effects they could have on human employment.
What Are The Drawbacks Of IoT
IoT is susceptible to the same attacks by hackers that the internet of people is susceptible to. This makes the implementation of the internet of things on a large scale potentially dangerous. We don’t need to over-state the dangers involved in a hacker suddenly gaining control of your IoT-enabled sedan while you are on the highway. An equally dangerous scenario would be one where a hacker locks all the exits to your IoT-enabled house, then subsequently alters the temperature levels on your thermostat to exceedingly hot or cold levels.
To counter these potentially dreadful scenarios there is a campaign going on to make the internet of things secure from the potential threats that hackers pose.
IoT will continue to evolve for the better and we will see more integration of these technologies into our daily lives. While enterprise-level IoT is seeing rapid growth as a result of excess funds being poured into it. The consumer side of IoT will see a further bump in adoption because of the usefulness of the internet of things.
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