At the moment there are many ongoing debates on the Internet of Things (IoT) and its impact on everything from the way we do shopping to the way our refrigerators keep track of inventory. But research has shown that 87% of the people still don’t know what exactly is the Internet of Things and how does it work.
What is the IoT?
The term ‘Internet of Things’ refers to a concept of connecting physical devices to the Internet and other connected devices via an embedded sensor network. Basically, the IoT is an environment where everything is connected – by everything we mean both the people and devices. The IoT connected ‘things’ are afterward used for remote monitoring and control.
That includes even the everyday objects of all shape and sizes – from smart refrigerators that can inform you that it’s running out of milk, to smart doorbells that allow you to unlock the door from your mobile phone as well as see or hear the visitor via a webcam. There are even smart microwaves that can automatically cook your food for the right length of time. According to Eric C. Leuthardt, a professor of Neurological surgery, the possibilities of the IoT are limitless. Namely, he believes that in the recent future companies will invent brain implants that will allow us to communicate directly with the internet and each other.
How does the IoT work?
Devices and objects with embedded sensors are connected to an IoT platform, which collects data from different sources and applies analytics to share the most important information with applications developed to address specific needs.
This IoT-based system is so accurate that it can pinpoint exactly what information is useful and what piece of information is of no concern for the consumers. This information can be used to make recommendations, detect patterns, and identify possible problems before they occur.
Let’s take an example from the automotive industry. Let’s say you own a car, and you find out which components (alloy wheels or leather seats, for example) are the most popular. By using IoT technology, you can:
- Find out which areas in a showroom are the most visited ones, and where customers linger longest.
- Take a look at the available sales data to find out which components are selling fastest.
- Connect sales data with supply, so that popular items don’t go out of stock.
As you can see above, the information acquired by IoT devices enables you to make calculated decisions about which components to stock up on, based on real-time data, and these findings can ultimately save you time and money.
The IoT utopia
Imagine you wake up at 6 am every day to perform your morning rituals and get ready to go to work. Your alarm clock rang and woke you just in time to complete the pre-work preparations. However, your train is canceled and you have to drive to work instead. You are probably wondering ‘what’s the big deal, I prefer going to work by car anyway, who likes trains anyway?’ Well, you would probably be right, if not for the fact that it takes longer to drive, and you would have needed to get up at 5:45 am to avoid showing up late for work. Oh, and by the way, it’s pouring rain outside, and you must drive slower than usual.
A connected IoT-enabled alarm could solve these problems. It would reset itself based on all these factors mentioned above, to ensure you got to work in time. It could inform you about the changes in train timings, calculate the travel time and the driving distance to find an alternative route to work, consider the weather factor (slower traveling speed due to rain), and estimate when it needs to wake you up so you’re not running late. If may as well sync with your IoT coffee maker to ensure that you get your morning dose of caffeine.
We’ve read and seen such things in science fiction movies for decades, but they are now on the brink of coming into being. We can’t tell what the future holds for the IoT technology, but it’s almost certain that it will likely impact our lives in unimaginable ways in the coming years.