What’s the Internet of Things? A Short ‘n’ Sweet Guide

April 14, 2021 - 7 minutes read

More and more people are talking about the Internet of Things (IoT). It seems these days that IoT applications are everywhere changing people’s lives and how businesses and industries operate. But what is this promising, all-encompassing technology?

IoT is an emerging technology that will bring about a transformation in our cities, homes, and businesses, allowing us to operate smart cars that talk to each other, live in smart cities that reduce environmental impact, and automate business processes. Read on to learn about how IoT works, what it does to help us automate things, and how it’s already being used in real-life situations.

What’s IoT?

Today, the Internet connects us all to each other through social media and communications like instant messaging and email. But IoT takes this connection one step further by connecting devices and sensors together. In other words, your laptop may one day be connected to your thermostat, doorbell security system, and car.

IoT technology is a perfect fit when you might be thinking, “I wish I could start my car from my bathroom in the mornings so that it’s warmed up for my morning commute” or “I wish I could start the washer without getting up from the couch” or “My work could be done faster if I could automate these processes.”

When we talk about IoT, we are talking about connecting everything (yes, everything) to each other. That means we ultimately want to have a world that’s so connected that every device is connected to each other or to the Internet. As a result of this goal, many people become confused about the broadness of IoT, so let’s cover why it’s beneficial to connect devices and sensors to the Internet.

Why Is IoT Important?

Whenever something is connected to the Internet, it’s sending and/or receiving information. Have you ever checked out your Internet speeds to find an upload and download speed? That’s referring to the speed at which your Internet connection allows you to send and receive information or data. When we’re able to send and receive information, it can make our devices and applications smarter, allowing them to achieve more complexity without sacrificing quality or speed.

For example, smartphones can allow us to watch any video in the world. But the videos reside in “the cloud”, where your phone can ask permission to view it, and the cloud can stream it to your device. The smartness of the phone doesn’t rely on having a ton of data saved onto the device; it depends on its ability to communicate with another connected entity to receive information.

In IoT, you can put everything into one of three categories: first, sensors collect information and sent it to another device. Second, computers get the information and act on it (or save it to the cloud for later retrieval). Third, there are devices that accomplish both of these things by themselves. Connecting these three types of data transmitters can yield you an application for almost anything you can think of.

Data Transmission for Decision MakingSensors collect data over time, like motion, temperature, air quality, light, moisture, and nearly anything else you’d want to measure about an indoor or outdoor environment. When connected to the Internet, sensors send the information to another device or to the cloud. We can act upon this data depending on the conditions we set beforehand.

For example, agriculture is a great industry for IoT applications because farmers can collect data about nearly anything in the environment: weather, soil moisture, crop growth, and more. Using this data, the farmer can decide to forego watering his or her crops if a lot of rain is predicted in the next day. Sensors enabled machines to make sense of an environment.

Often, sensors can transmit this data in real-time or close to real-time, saving users a lot of time and effort. We already use real-time sensors to print out documents quickly, open our garage door upon clicking a button, and when scanning your library card to check out books.

Bringing Everything Together

When we use devices that can both collect and send data and then analyze it and act upon it, we are removing the need for a human to step in. For example, in farming, sensors are collecting information about the soil and other aspects of the environment. But instead of having the farmer keep an eye on all of the data so that he can manually turn on or off his irrigation system, we can directly connect the irrigation system to the sensors.

IoT app development

In fact, the irrigation system located in Ohio could be sending information to an analysis software being developed in New York City, and it would still take no effort from the farmer to ensure his crops get the best opportunity for high yield this year. Keeping up with this system for years can build historical data, allowing a computer program to optimize the performance of the farm equipment for the largest, juiciest crop yield and minimize any losses.

This is an example of just the soil moisture sensor and irrigation equipment. Imagine what else can be optimized when sensors are collecting information about temperature, light, air quality, and more. Algorithms work best with multi-dimensional data, so more data is always better for automation.

IoT Is Technology For a Brighter Tomorrow

IoT is all about connecting humans together better by connecting devices and sensors to computers and cloud services. This allows us to continuously automate, optimize, and improve our lives and businesses without a lot of human input. The world is going to work drastically differently in the next few decades, and it’s all possible because of IoT.

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