The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that describes the expanding machine-to-machine automated communication opportunities. It is based on cloud computing and data-gathering sensors on various networks, albeit virtual, mobile and direct connections and is believed to simplify multiple aspects of our everyday lives, making everything “smart”. It all comes together with connecting receptors or sensors, and different devices and machine systems to establish programmed functionality between these networks.
The biggest significance created by the Internet of Things is at the junction of gathering data and strategically analyzing it. But all the data gathered by every single sensor on the planet isn’t of much use if there isn’t a foundation or infrastructure set up to break down and analyse it directly and in real time. The Internet of Things is also dependable on cloud-based applications to decipher and relay the information coming from all the sensors on a system to enable processing and function.
The IoT enables devices and items to be detected or controlled remotely over and existing system foundation or structure, opening doors for more direct combinations of the physical world into digital or computer based frameworks, and bringing about enhanced effectiveness, accuracy and financial advantages with less human interference.
Digital innovator Kevin Ashton, credited with coining the phrase, describes the Internet of Things as such: “If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best.”
The implication and importance of the IoT is set because an object or device can become more than what its physical function is when it becomes part of a functional network structure, especially one that can be controlled remotely. By being connected to other objects and database information, the object becomes part of a large information system, and when many of these objects on a system work in accord, they are known as having “collective intelligence”. When thinking about being ‘connected’, the general understanding is that this only applies with regards to smartphones, tablets, computers, and other data-driven devices. In the case of the IoT, possibilities arise for just about anything to connect, transmit and receive data within a structured system.
The software applications that these IoT devices or objects are based on, can primarily divide them into five main categories: smart home, smart city, smart environment, smart business and smart wearable. Gartner, Inc., a technology research enterprise, states that there will be nearly 20.8 billion devices that form part of the Internet of Things by the year 2020. This includes everything from automated home systems, smartphones, kitchen equipment, wearable devices and electronic appliances to name a few. IoT will be able to incorporate applications over many different integrated systems because of the ability to link up embedded products that run on memory, CPU and has adequate power resources.
The relationship will be between people-people, people-things and things-things. Imagine the possibilities when a smart car and smart city infrastructure could communicate with each other; traffic and street conditions will be communicated to optimize traffic flow. With all this data being transferred, received and tracked, cloud-based systems analyzing the data and transmitting it to objects on the grid in real-time, more opportunities are created to enable smarter environments. Soon urban planning will include more than just buildings and factories, like environmental sensing and utility integration in various industries, from tracking manufacturing parts to monitoring crops and land.
The Internet of Things will certainly create a lot of possibilities for application, but there are also many issues concerned. A lot of data about people and devices are collected by these systems and shared and held in database companies. And so one of the biggest issues with IoT is security.
How do we secure the information being gathered by the billions of devices connected? How do we stop hackers from accessing this data and breaching your entire network? Companies with valuable or private information, dealing in financial and health industries especially, are the biggest concerns. Privacy and data sharing is another concern. Database companies also need to store, track, analyse and configure the copious amounts of data that will be produced across all connected networks.
It is certain that the Internet of Things is still in its beginning phase, with the potential to reach great levels with development. Companies and enterprises that are focusing on expanding into the IoT market for their products and services will soon realise the advantage they have over competitors, but will definitely have to pay attention to security, for themselves and for their users.