A Beginner’s Guide to the Internet of Things | Panda Anku

IoT implies physical objects connected via wireless and wired networks. It refers to a group of internet-connected devices that communicate independently over the internet without the need for a human to mediate the exchange of information.

You may be wondering how this differs from the “Internet” as most people recognize it. It’s not that different; It’s just a form of communication on the internet that focuses on “things” and not people. It is divided into multiple sectors such as telecom IoT industries, medical IoT, and infrastructure IoT.

Let’s look at the basics of IoT, why it’s important, and how businesses and consumers are using it.

The origins and history of the IoT

The term “Internet of Things” was first used in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, founder of the Auto-ID Center at MIT. Ashton first used the term in an RFID briefing while working on supply chain management for Procter & Gamble (Radio Frequency Identification).

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However, the phrase “Internet of Things” only became popular around 2010, thanks in part to the launch of Google Street View. Street View provided users with 360-degree panoramic images of the world from the street and stored vast amounts of data over users’ wireless connections.

Not an original idea

The concept of the Internet of Things – devices connected to the Internet – existed for many years before Ashton decided to give it a name. The industry used to refer to this term as Embedded Internet or Ubiquitous Computing, although Intel pushed the former label until it was clear that the term “IoT” would appear in public.

In 1982, a modified Coca-Cola vending machine became the first internet-connected device. The device at Carnegie Mellon University revealed its merits and whether the drinks inside were cold.

The concept of “moving small packets of data to large sets of nodes” was described in IEEE Spectrum Magazine in 1994 to integrate and streamline everything from home appliances to entire factories. Everything but the name, IoT.

IoT basics

The four pillars of IoT and the key concepts to understand are as follows:

1. Data

IoT technologies offer numerous methods for collecting data about the physical realm. Data is the energy that drives the IoT, which is why it is so important.

2. Network

This enables the exchange of data and insights and enhances this information. This is the Internet in the context of the Internet of Things.

3. device

The essential physical elements or things that collect this data are referred to as the “Internet of Things”.

4. Analytics

The technique of turning raw data into actionable insights makes collected data worthwhile.

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How does the Internet of Things work?

The Internet of Things is based on a combination of physical devices, wireless network technology, advanced data analysis and cloud computing.

The following is the basic process of how IoT works:

  • A collection of physical devices that are wired or wirelessly connected to each other and in a central location.
  • With the help of a kind of sensor, the devices collect data from the environment.
  • This information is stored either at an intermediate network location, in the cloud, or on the device itself. The information is then analyzed, often using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
    The physical device uses the processed data to perform an action.
  • As an example, consider how this process would work with a smart thermostat:
  • The thermostat regularly sends temperature readings to the utility’s external database via a wireless network.
  • A data analytics application uses data insights to increase energy efficiency by adjusting thermostat temperature settings over time.
  • A sensor on the thermostat measures the temperature in the room.
  • The data is stored and processed by the thermostat.
  • The thermostat will automatically lower the temperature to a preset level when the temperature rises above a certain threshold.
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The challenges of IoT technology

Like any technology, the IoT faces several challenges, such as:

interoperability

Many IoT devices run on proprietary protocols or have unique or specialized protocols that prevent them from interacting with other devices or services. There is also no ubiquitous standard set of terms and concepts for discussing the Internet of Things, nor is there a prevailing set of guidelines for when these devices are in widespread public use.

security

IoT devices, particularly those used in medical, industrial, transportation, and infrastructure applications, are often tasked with tasks that can endanger lives if mishandled. If a smart car’s warning system fails, the driver may miss an obstacle or pedestrian. A faulty sensor in an industrial facility can have catastrophic consequences if a critical red flag is missed.

data privacy

As the IoT becomes more widespread, questions about data privilege and the confidentiality of consumer data also arise. For example, when more connected devices share data independently, accountability for all that data becomes difficult.

Featuring billboards with spy cameras monitoring pedestrian demographics who stop to read them and protecting patient data collected by smart medical devices inside and outside the hospital.

IoT security

Because IoT devices are widely used to automate processes, people don’t interact with them as regularly as they do with consumer devices like smartphones. For example, a manager of an IoT device like a camera sensor is more likely to ignore changing the factory default password. The result is an externally visible IoT device with an easy-to-crack passcode.

environmental impact

Because of the heavy metals used in many IoT devices, it is difficult to manufacture, dispose of, and reuse them without incurring significant costs to people and the environment. As a result, some IoT distributors are intentionally bricking their products by disabling the proprietary support their devices need to function.

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Benefits of IoT technology

The most immediate benefit of the IoT for businesses is that it enables them to learn more about – and thus improve – their own business processes and structures, ultimately focusing on delivering superior products or more efficient services.

IoT expands the number and types of locations that organizations can autonomously pull data from and provides much more data to work with. It also improves the responsiveness of internal systems.

The main benefits of IoT for customers are accessibility and ease of use, which cannot be neglected in a healthcare device, for example. As the IoT expands and permeates the public domain, more meaningful and social benefits will emerge, such as:

  • Implementing a location-free voting system and combining biometric voter registration and verification with IoT to make voting easier and increase security are two examples of how this is impacting politics.
  • Smarter environmental decisions result from a better understanding of environmental impacts and pollution.
  • Smart cities are changing the way urban environments work.
  • As a result of these events, you observe changes in culture and politics. The massive amounts of data being generated by IoT networks and smart cities will provide new insights into areas previously limited by the value of accurate data.

IoT in companies and industries

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manufacturing

The IoT in manufacturing and industrial sector helps various identification, processing, collection and communication processes inside and outside the factory. For example, digital control structures can automate these functions and improve plant safety and effectiveness.

Examine how the Internet of Things is transforming manufacturing.

retail trade

To enable digital interactions, retailers and distributors are using innovative packaging with a barcode or NFC tag that contains a unique identifier and digital product information. A similar technology enables contactless communication with officially used objects such as restaurants or innovative drinking fountains.

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healthcare

The collection, tracking and analysis of medical data can be done with IoT devices. Medical IoT, also known as Smart Health Coverage, aims to create a virtual health service that links medical resources and support.

Here are some examples of IoT applications in this area:

  • Pacemakers and heart rate monitors that can track a patient’s vital signs and generate notifications via an emergency alert system.
  • Hearing aids that adjust their sensitivity to the user’s preferences.
  • Fitbits and smartwatches that collect biometric data.
  • Smart beds detect movement, alert a medical provider, or automatically change settings to improve comfort.
  • End-to-end health monitoring solutions help patients, especially those with chronic diseases, track their vital signs and medication needs.
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infrastructure

IoT devices have the prospect of improving public architecture. Here are a few examples:

  • The development of cities

Smart cities equipped with IoT sensors provide citizens with services such as environmental control data and smartphone parking apps through smart meters.

IoT is used in agriculture to monitor and collect agricultural data such as temperature, rainfall, wind speed, soil content and pest infestation. Farmers can use data from IoT devices in their sector to improve product quality and reduce waste.

Intelligent parking, traffic management, electronic toll collection systems and vehicle roadside assistance contribute to more efficient transportation.

  • Building and home automation

Efficient energy management system design monitors and controls a variety of infrastructure components.

  • infrastructure monitoring

IoT devices can monitor architectures such as bridges and railroad tracks for significant structural changes to optimize disaster preparedness and emergency response processes.

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military

The military uses intelligent technology and the Internet of Things to prepare for battle and gather intelligence and surveillance.

Smart drones are an instance of the DARPA project Ocean of Things, which is also focused on building an infrastructure of passive sensors at sea to track the presence and action of commercial and military vessels.

Main image courtesy of NASA via Unsplash

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