Published: Sep 08, 2022
IoT (Internet of Things) - what is it all about?
Our society has become too dependent on the Internet. Back then, the only way to be "connected" was limited to computers and phones but today's technology broadened these methods, which is merely a coup d'œil of what the future can hold.
The vast amounts of connected devices are always expanding, and with new innovative gadgets like wearable devices released in the market, you can expect more to join this euphoria of connections.
With almost all appliances engineered and designed to be connected online, the Internet has become an indispensable necessity. You can find yourself overwhelmed, impressed, and even slightly worried about the Internet of Things.
What is IoT?
IoT, or the Internet of Things, can be complicated and confusing with all the different terminologies involved.
In the simplest form, IoT refers to the network of physical "things" or devices that are integrated with programs, sensors, tools, and other technologies so that these devices can connect, transfer data and exchange information. All these transfer data happen over the worldwide network of systems called the Internet.
These internet-connected devices can be your conventional household appliances to sophisticated industrial machinery. Almost anything can now become part of the IoT, and as of 2021, there were more than 10 billion active consumer IoT devices. This vast amount might exceed 25.4 billion in the next eight years.
How does IoT work?
Devices and other physical things equipped with built-in sensors can connect to any IoT platform and into the digital world. The IoT then incorporates the data from these various devices and uses analytics to gather and share detailed information relevant to every device's needs.
The IoT platforms can identify and isolate what information is needed and what you can disregard. This relevant data is used to identify patterns and logarithms, provide timely recommendations, and even flag the users for possible risks and threats.
IoT systems are composed of four components: sensors or devices, connectivity, data processing, and user interface. Each of these segments plays a significant role in the exchange of data and communication to complete the business processes.
Here is a quick overview of how every component works in the Internet of Things.
Sensors or Devices
The primary role of the sensors or IoT devices is to gather the data from their environment. This can be any information from the most straightforward temperature reading and speed computation to a more complicated full video feed or data from the entire year.
Note that several sensors can work together on a single device that does more than simply identifying things. An example here will be the smartphone. It is equipped with multiple sensors like the GPS, camera, accelerometer, proximity sensor, QA code or barcode sensors, and thermometer – to name a few. These can all collect data, but they also have standalone functions like all other devices.
In the IoT, the initial step is to collect data from the environment by anything or something.
The following process is to get these collected data into the cloud.
The IoT includes the servers, infrastructure, and storage, all tapped when real-time data is needed. The cloud is considered the core server where all the information is stored. This massive and vast IoT network supports IoT-connected devices, software, and applications.
But how will all the corresponding data get to the cloud platforms?
You can link sensors to the cloud in several ways. This can be through Bluetooth, wireless connectivity, cellular transmission, satellite, or even the traditional way of connecting through the Ethernet cable.
Each of these approaches has its pros and cons when it comes to range, bandwidth and power consumption, so you have to make sure that choosing any of the connectivity options meets the needs of your specific IoT application.
Regardless of your type of connectivity, all the data will be transmitted successfully to the cloud for storage.
Once all the collected data of the devices and sensors reach the cloud, specific applications take over to commence data processing.
The processing of information is based on the request submitted to the cloud. It can be as simple as analysing the captured temperature and determining if it is within an acceptable range. Or it can also be as intricate as cross-matching an identity of a person.
Note that the data captured by the devices can translate into something. The data processing component takes care of this and presents it in mostly measurable data you can interpret and further work on.
Finally, completing the IoT components is the user interface. The processed information can meet its purpose and be helpful to the end-user to a certain extent.
This information is transmitted to be used either through a notification, alert, email, SMS, and more. For example, you will receive a notification if your security system detects movement on your front porch.
At the same time, it can provide users with access to interfaces, dashboards, and portals where they can proactively check on the cloud.
In the same example above, once you receive a notification that there is movement outside your security system, you can ask for the live video feeds your device is capturing. You can do this via the integrated security system app installed on your phone.
It gets complicated and impressive here because the user interface can be a two-way street. Based on the IoT application you are using, you – as the user – can also take action that can impact the system.
So with the security system example above, upon checking the video feed of your security cameras and determining that the movement is alarming, you can remotely turn off the alarm using a mobile app which will stop in real-time.
At the same time, your security system can automatically notify the police or the relevant authorities if the movement is deemed suspicious.
Why is IoT important?
IoT has proven that it is an essential element of society. It is one of the life-changing 21st-century technologies, and life without it is something you won't be able to imagine.
With IoT, almost everyone can connect everyday things like cars, security systems, smart thermostats, kitchen appliances, baby monitors, printers, and other smart devices to the Internet and share data in the most seamless and reliable communication possible.
People, things, business processes, and systems can provide all, which is critical, especially with the demands of the current society. This low-computing system can also collect the data and is readily available in the cloud, complete with possible analysis so that real-time intervention can happen.
These instant connections require minimal human intervention, and IoT plays a significant role in ensuring a balance, engagement, and collaboration between the digital and the physical world.
Benefits of IoT
The Internet of Things gave new and endless possibilities regarding data capture, information exchange, and ensuring that this data becomes useful. Here are some of the conveniences of IoT:
1. Data Monitoring
The essential advantage of the IoT is data monitoring. It helps you know accurate real-time data, which can positively impact your decision-making.
For instance, you can be notified if your printer ink is already running low. To address this, you already place an order beforehand, so you know that if the ink entirely runs out, you can replace it automatically.
Additionally, you can have historical data at your fingertips, which can help you make recommendations based on facts and figures.
Today, if you need any information, you can have numerous references in real-time regardless of where you are so long as you have a device and an internet connection.
Gone are the days when you needed to tune in to the television to check today's weather forecast or go to a ticketing office to get your tickets booked. You don't even have to study a map when going somewhere new because you can check the weather in real-time on your phone, book tickets online, and refer to Google Maps.
Everything is a simple one click away, and all the information and services are readily easy to get to.
3. Improved Handling Time
With the data you need to be delivered in seconds, you can challenge your multitasking skills with IoT. It has become one of today's time-saving tools, allowing you to accomplish tasks in less than a minute.
You can check the news while on the train, purchase a new gadget in minutes, and even pay bills in several taps. There is no need to schedule an hour or two going to actual establishments to get your business done because you can do so more efficiently, thanks to IoT.
With less time spent on these errands and responsibilities, you earn more time for yourself and your loved ones.
4. Quick Actions
Time is something that everyone values, and getting in as much work as possible is essential to everyone.
It allows everyone to do things faster, and it's not just one or two tasks at a time but multiple and varying responsibilities with impressive speed and less effort.
For instance, IoT paved the way for better and more reliable automation, removing repetitive tasks. Employees could focus their efforts and time on other challenging duties or work on value-added services.
5. Unique Convenience
Smart IoT devices are now established in almost every home, replacing traditional appliances. Today, you don't need to go through your fridge to know what supplies you are running low on because there are intelligent refrigerators that do their inventory and will let you know that you only have one gallon of milk left.
Reordering can also be programmed and sent straight to your grocery store, so for your part, a lesser effort is needed in ensuring your pantry is always stocked. All you need is to authorise the purchase and wait for the delivery.
With many IoT devices in your home, you'll have to exert less effort in knowing the immediate needs and issues that require a solution.
6. Opens New Standards
IoT is an ever-developing concept compared to other technologies, and the progress is minimal and slower-paced. This opens up plenty of opportunities for all industries because they can establish processes based on a working IoT technology.
With IoT, it's easier to keep track of the latest and incorporate it into existing processes. Marrying the current business models and what IoT can do in industrial settings becomes a seamless relationship.
7. Cost Reduction
Saving money and increasing profit are two of the main benefits of IoT. The initial investment to procure these intelligent IoT devices can be rather steep, but these are purchases that can use for a long time, and the revenue in exchange is worth it.
Manual processes entail different equipment, including regular maintenance and actual people handling them. With IoT, everything can transition to automated processes with lesser machinery and human resources. This also means lesser repairs, site visits, and wages.
With IoT helping everyone in their daily lives, it reduces cost, energy consumption, time, and effort.
8. Seamless Process
Since IoT requires all the IoT devices to be linked and controlled centrally and digitally with either wireless IoT technology or hard-wired setup, you can achieve a full-proof, more automated, and controlled process.
Human interference can sometimes cause delays and errors; with the right set of programming and setup, these bumps and inaccuracies in the process can be minimised. By letting the machines communicate, you can have a faster and more reliable process every time.
9. Better Customer Experience
IoT has paved the way for organisations to discover and utilise omnichannel strategies and solutions to ultimately improve their business, relationship, and services to their business and clientele.
The front-end customer service team can provide timely resolutions in lesser handle time because solutions provided – at its absolute – resolve concerns and bring back customer satisfaction and loyalty.
The resolution, accessibility, and convenience are critical elements for a customer to stay with an organisation, and IoT provides these and more.
10. New businesses and opportunities
IoT is a game-changer in gathering and analysing data, which can be a revenue-producing advantage for organisations.
By making the most of IoT, businesses can have new insights to create new methodologies and strategies and completely revamp their current business models. This internal growth can expand by offering new services that their clients want.
Collaborating with other organisations to develop new approaches to delivering business and services is also likely to happen.
History of IoT
The postulation of the IoT was not official until 1999. Still, it was already a growing idea in the 1980s when a group of university students modified a Coca-Cola vending machine so it could track the contents remotely. Back then, the technology was limited and bulky, so the idea's progress was quite far-fetched.
And then comes 1999, the idea was coined by Kevin Ashton, a computer scientist working as MIT's Executive Director of Auto-ID Labs. He was the first person who came up with a clear definition of IoT while presenting for Procter & Gamble.
His proposal to the huge and well-known company is to put radio frequency identification (RFID) chips on the products manufactured by the company for easier tracking and inventory. Ashton then incorporated the buzzword "internet" into the pitch, and he got the brand's attention.
Between 2002 and 2003, the US Department of Defense and Walmart embraced Ashton's brainchild of using RFIDs.
In 2009, Google started testing driverless cars, and in 2011, Google's Nest thermostat hit the market, which allowed remote control of the home's central heating.
Another IoT milestone was reached in June 2012 when most major internet service providers and large web companies increased the address space on the global net by activating IPV6 for various uses.
From 2012 until today, more smart home devices and other IoT devices like security devices have been released. This will be an ongoing trend of one company outsmarting the other in the bid to produce more capable smart IoT devices to be linked to the IoT.
What is Industrial IoT?
IoT has a significant role in Industry 4.0. This is when the use of IoT is extended into the industrial sectors and industrial systems.
IIoT emphasises machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, machine learning and plenty of data, and it uses the power of these significant IoT devices or sensors to make real-time analyses.
These massive industrial devices make a lot of difference in the industrial sector because they can evaluate data in real-time in a matter of seconds – a feat that humans are still working on while presenting the IoT data most straightforwardly, allowing better interpretation that can lead to better decisions.
The Industrial IoT is now fully incorporated in different sectors, including aviation, energy, logistics, manufacturing, mining, and transportation – to name a few. IIoT can optimise these industries' processes and operations to make the daily function and maintenance more seamless.
In the long run, it promotes streamlined methodologies and business models that can lead to better customer relationships and open new revenue streams – the goal of most, if not all, industries.
Applications of IoT in Different Industries
What makes the Internet of Things indispensable, and is it positively impact all industries in society? It doesn't benefit a few but provides equal advantages to everyone.
The healthcare industry is one that entirely makes the most of IoT. It is one of the fastest-growing sectors relying on IoT.
Sometimes referred to as the Internet of Medical Things or IoMT, the electronic devices connected to the Internet are used to monitor and manage their patients, and even the patients themselves monitor their vitals.
For instance, smart devices like a smartwatch are wearable devices that can greatly help remote patient monitoring, one of the main IoT applications. These devices can automatically and in real-time collect a patient's metrics like blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature that will forward to the main hospital's dashboard so the healthcare professionals can provide an assessment.
Patients won't have to be in the hospital for initial evaluations physically. Instead, it will rely on a software algorithm to analyse the data and make recommendations. For instance, your IoT sensor detects that your heart rate is low; this will send a notification to your healthcare professional so intervention can be done.
A massive breakthrough in the healthcare industry is robotic surgery. This is when broadband internet-linked robots are deployed inside the patient's body so the surgeon can perform complicated and minuscule operations that are impossible with the size of the human hands.
Thanks to IoT devices, some incisions can be made smaller during surgeries, causing a lesser invasive process and minimising patient downtime.
The IoT is a central component in transforming the manufacturing sector and ensuring that every process is carefully calculated, met, and satisfied.
One of the phases in manufacturing where IoT is an asset is quality control. Back then, quality control means manual testing of the products thanks to a quality control team. With IoT integrated, catching and rectifying any flaws is guaranteed even before it gets out of the market.
Inventory is also made more accessible and organised with IoT because today, almost all products and stocks come with an RFID tag, and each unique identifier already comes with encoded digital data.
The RFID readers simply scan these tags, and the needed data can be extracted and presented in real-time, for example, a cereal's batch ID, manufactured date, and expiry date. The supply chains and the asset management team can take action following a paperless workflow.
At the same time, IoT provides an additional layer of safety in the actual operations and can also track workers' performance, including absences, machinery damage, and mishaps. These are variable information to augment and improve the safety of the workers, operational processes, and equipment being used in the manufacturing plant.
The involvement of IoT in the automotive industry provided new avenues for both carmakers and buyers. IoT application is felt in this industry because it promotes road safety.
One of the ways where IoT is implemented in automotive is in fleet management. Most trucks now incorporate sensors that can provide weight, location, and traffic management data.
The fleet operator can have real-time access to this information, thus leading to better decisions regarding traffic and route management, time and driver management, and even the use of resources like fuel and mileage.
Additionally, IoT also changed the automotive maintenance process. Back then, car owners would only know that something needed to be changed or repaired when the car was no longer working as expected.
Today, integrated and automated dashboard indicators can already alert the driver of possible malfunctions, so real-time intervention can be done. This helps save the car owner from experiencing complete car part failure.
With smartphone-based dashboards, owners can get notified in real-time if someone is attempting to enter their vehicles without adequate access. An immediate call can be placed to concerned organisations like the police, hospital, or firefighters.
Cost and efficiency are two main factors why smart cities opt for IoT in their daily IoT applications. Plenty of cities are now converting their wired connections to wireless networks because landlines are more costly for installation and maintenance.
Truck rolls are necessary when there are problems on the lines, and repairs must be done manually, leading to more extended downtime. With IoT, patches of firmware updates and reset on the system can be done remotely and in seconds.
Some of the ways how smart cities incorporate and benefit from the Internet of Things is with city light applications. A centralised light system can support multiple uses like better lighting control, visibility in surveillance cameras, access to electronic billboards, and even environmental sensors.
IoT is also significantly involved in smart city projects, specifically city transit applications, waste and water management, emergency services, and traffic management.
Don't get left behind. The Internet of Things is the present and the future, and it is time for you to incorporate its advantages. This IoT solution is intended to make life easier and more convenient, given that the data you need is readily available.
Have the right partner to maximise and unleash the power of the Internet of Things. Talk to NCS today and never look back to the manual, costly, and slow ways of getting things done. Another new age concept you need to look into is blockchain– one that you can learn as you explore today's technology. This is the IoT evolution, and you better be part of it.