Internet of Things (IoT) - Part 1 (Introduction)

Topics covered

  • The internet
  • Things
  • Internet + Things = Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Characteristics of the IoT
  • Some facts about the IoT

Every one of us has heard the latest buzz, the Internet of Things (IoT)! This revolution in technology is even bigger than the industrial revolution!

The Iot

This article will provide a basic understanding of what the IoT is and why we are so enthusiastic about this latest technology.

Before we begin with the IoT introduction, let's break the term into Internet and Things and understand these two terms first.

All of us, these days, use the internet, more or less. Let's discuss what the internet is.



Figure1:
Internet

Since 1991, after the WWW was formed, the internet has changed the way long-distance communication was conducted, it created new ways to share and acquire knowledge. It changed the way awareness was spread across communities. It was a great leap when people from various parts of the world were able to connect with each other using the internet to share, learn and care.

But then, what is the internet? the Internet is “a global network connecting millions of embedded hardware devices (computers, smartphones and tablets) providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols”.

And now, the next term, things. Today, an average household has more devices at home connected to the internet than the number of people at the home.

Each device on the internet is identifiable with a unique ID, the IP address.

The IP address is a number that identifies a device, locates the device on the network and routes the internet traffic.

And hence, “Things refers to any physical object with a device that has its own IP address and can connect to a network that also sends/receives data via a network.”.

Things can be us (humans), animals, buildings, energy stations, smartphones, tablets, bicycle, sensors, cameras, vehicles, health monitoring devices and so on.



Figure2: Illustration of ‘things’

Merging the Internet and Things to make them work hand-in-hand, we get a powerful technology, the Internet of Things (IoT).

Today we have many other devices apart from smart phones and computers that have the capability to connect and communicate using the internet, like garage door opener, internet connected sprinklers, water quality sensors, ATM machines, electricity and utility meters, cars and other vehicles, medical and health monitoring device and many more.

All the interconnection of these uniquely identifiable computing devices within the existing internet infrastructure can be termed as the Internet of Things or the IoT in short form.

Hence, IoT can be defined as:

“A network of physical objects or ‘things’ that can interact with each other to share information and take action.”

or:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure.”



Figure3: IoT

Let us watch this introductory video to have a clear understanding of what the IoT is.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? We now have a basic idea of the power of the IoT and how wonderful it would be to include this fast growing technology into our lives.

Characteristics of IoT

To make this technology an integral part of our lives, let’s have an understanding of the characteristics of the IoT. The "things" in IoT are also called applications that need to have some specific characteristics to make this technology work smoothly and in order to be called a full-fledged IoT system or application. These characteristics are:

  1. The things should have a unique identification so that each of them can be distinguished from various objects in the network. If they don’t have unique identification then it becomes difficult for developers to work with.

  2. Things should be able to detect the presence of other objects, following a rule of autonomy. If they can do so then they can further interact with each other and work accordingly.

  3. Things should be able to capture data autonomously.

  4. Since there are various communication protocols and technologies that IoT devices will work with, things should be interoperable among various communication technologies.

  5. Things should have a service–based operation, such that if any two or more objects are in the vicinity or in contact then they should be able to communicate directly with each other and exchange information and data if necessary.

  6. There should be cooperation among autonomous objects (things). If two autonomous objects can interact and cooperate with each other to accomplish any preset or necessary task, it can intensify the value of such an application manifold.

  7. Things should be able to operate at low power.

  8. Things should be contextual in nature.

  9. Things should be programmable by the user.

  10. Things should have a fail-safe operation and most importantly secure.

Some facts about IoT

The following describes how large IoT Network Scale is:

  • The number of mobile devices exceed the number of people on the Earth.
  • Predictions are made that there will be 50 billion "things" connected to the Internet by 2020.

Therefore, a knowledge about the IoT is important!

IoT Service Support

  • Some advanced IoT services will need to collect, analyze, and process segments of raw sensor data and turn it in into operational control information.
  • Some sensor data types may have massive sizes (due to a large number of IoT devices).
  • IoT databases will be needed, that is where Cloud Computing support is needed.
  • IoT data analysis needs to be done, that is where we will need Big Data support.

The influence of the IoT is everywhere!

People

More "things" can be monitored and controlled so people will become more capable.

Process

More users and machines can collaborate in real-time so more complex tasks can be accomplished in lesser time. And hence we have more collaborated and coordinated data.

Data

Collect data more frequently and reliably. Those results are more accurate for decision making.

Things

The things become more controllable therefore mobile devices and things become more valuable.

Economic Impact

Predictions have been made that the IoT has the potential to increase global corporate profits by 21% (in aggregate) by 2022.

  • Asset Utilization: $2.5T
  • Employee Productivity: $2.5T
  • Supply Chain and Logistics: $2.7T
  • Customer Experience: $3.7T
  • Innovation: $3.7T

A total of $19 Trillion Market. That’s huge !!

  1. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections are increasingly important
  2. Person-to-Person (P2P) are as well
  3. Person-to-Machine (P2M)
  4. Machine-to-Person (M2P) still represents the majority of IoT’s economic value
  • M2M: $6.4T: 45% of economic value.
  • M2P or P2M: $3.5T and P2P: $4.5T together represent 55% of economic value.

Putting it all together in a nutshell, we can see that this technology is huge and has enormous potential! This is and will create huge potential for developers.

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