You definitely heard this buzzword before. It’s all over the Internet, it’s a hot topic of conversation both in the workplace and home, and it’s everywhere in the media. However, you’ve probably never even realized what’s it all about and what does it actually mean. Is it something that can impact our lives? Can it change the way we think, use and interact with technology? Let’s start with the basics and go on from there:
And it’s fast. Broadband Internet is becoming widely available in many areas of the world, connecting people to the world wide web. The cost of a web connection is decreasing rapidly and the connection speeds are faster than ever. What’s more, there are endless devices which can connect to 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networks at a switch of a button. And we are not talking only about smartphones; we are talking about everyday appliances, like refrigerators, TVs, audio systems, but also cars, fitness collars and bicycles. Even the dumbest appliances, like toasters or electric kettles, can now be connected to the world wide web. We’re living in a world were being unable to connect to the Internet leaves you far behind the curve. Some futurists see this amazing machine connection as the start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and it is expected that almost 50 percent of new businesses will run mainly on Internet of Things by 2025.
To cut it short, the Internet of Things (IoT), refers to everything that is connected to the Internet at any given time. In a broader sense, it can refer to any object that can talk and interact with each other online. The IoT is made up of all the devices connected together in a network – from wearables and simple sensors, to smartphones, ovens and high-end TVs. Think about a high-tech home, where every appliance is connected to a wi-fi network: you can communicate with your stove, your speakers, your TV or the HVAC system, straight from your smartphone.
When all these connected devices communicate and share data, the Internet of Things is created as a virtual environment. They can interact and co-work to create a better environment for you. For instance, the home HVAC unit can be controlled remotely from your office, which in turn can lock the windows in case a storm hits the area where you live.
While every device can be connected to the Internet, they are designed to only extract and specific data. Let’s take, for instance, industrial sensors: they are used on product lines to increase efficiency, production speed and cut losses and waste. Studies show that 35 percent of United States manufacturers use smart sensors to increase their efficiency (concrete sensors are one example in this field – used to control the material’s properties). When devices communicate and interact, it saves us time, it cuts emissions and creates a safer environment for people. Essentially, it helps companies and organizations deliver better services and goods to their clients.
IoT is already big, but it’s still in its infancy. There’s been a lot of progress in recent years, but there is a long way to go in the future. Even though there are a lot of smart bulbs, sensors, switches and devices which work together, there are a lot of things which can still go wrong. Devices don’t easily connect to the internet, their protocols are often messed up, their software is faulty at times, and there are a lot of security issues which still need to be addressed.
Every year, billions of new devices get connected to the Internet and security should be top notch. Internet service providers and manufacturers will have to spend billions of dollars on securing the way these devices connect to the Internet and interact with each other. The same goes with compatibility: there are too many types of connections, protocols, codes and agreements which make communication difficult. Standardization, as many experts suggest, should be another priority for manufacturers.
All in all, the Internet and how we use it is changing as we speak. It’s not just about connection speeds, social media or video sharing platforms. It’s how every object around can communicate with us, help us and work better for us. It’s a world where everyone and everything will be online.
It’s fabulous and we see it happening right before our eyes!