What is Internet of Things?


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!
This chapter will provide a basic understanding of what the IoT is and why are we so interested in this latest technology.
In order to understand what "IoT" is, we need to first understand the meaning of "Internet" and "Things". So let us start.


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 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 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, bicycles, 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).

Internet of Things

After learning the meaning of both "Internet" and "Things". Now let us discuss the Internet of Things.
Today we have many other devices apart from smartphones and computers that can connect and communicate using the internet, like garage door opener, internet-connected sprinklers, water quality sensors, ATMs, electricity and utility meters, cars and other vehicles, medical, and health monitoring devices, 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.”
“The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure.”
Figure3: IoT
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 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 and work accordingly.
  3. Things should be able to capture data autonomously.
  4. Since there are various communication protocolsand technologies that IoT devices will work with, things should beinteroperable among various communication technologies.
  5. Thingsshould have a service-based operation, such that if any two or moreobjects are in the vicinity or in contact then they should be able tocommunicate directly with each other and exchange information and dataif 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.
  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 exceeds the number of people on Earth.
  • Predictions are made that there will be 50 billion "things" connected to the Internet by 2020.
Therefore, a piece of knowledge about the IoT is important!
IoT Service Support
  • Someadvanced IoT services will need to collect, analyze, and processsegments of raw sensor data and turn it in into operational controlinformation.
  • 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!

1. People
More "things" can be monitored and controlled so people will become more capable.
2. 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.
3. Data
Collect data more frequently and reliably. Those results are more accurate for decision making.
4. Things
Things become more controllable therefore mobile devices and things become more valuable.
5. 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.
That's all from this chapter, hope you enjoyed it.
Sukanya Mandal
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