What is Internet of Things (IoT)

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The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to billions of physical devices that would not be generally expected to have an internet connection, are now connected to the internet (and/or to each other), collecting and sharing data. Almost every physical objects that you can think of can be transformed into an IoT device, such as coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and components of machines.

IoT describes a world where just about anything can be connected and communicate in an intelligent fashion. With the internet of things, the physical world is becoming one big information system.

How Does IoT Work

Devices and objects with built in sensors are connected to an IoT platform, which integrates data from the different devices and applies analytics to share the most valuable information with applications built to address specific needs.

These powerful IoT platforms can pinpoint exactly what information is useful and what can safely be ignored. This information can be used to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems before they occur.

With the insight provided by advanced analytics, IoT makes processes more efficient. Smart objects and systems can help automate certain tasks, particularly those are repetitive, mundane, time-consuming or even dangerous.

Practical Uses of IoT

Practical applications of IoT technology can be found in many industries today. For examples,

  • Precision agriculture: The goal is to ensure profitability, sustainability and protection of the environment. IoT devices are used to access real-time data about the conditions of the crops, soil and ambient air, along with other relevant information such as hyper-local weather predictions, labor costs and equipment availability. Predictive analytics software uses the data to provide farmers with guidance about crop rotation, optimal planting times, harvesting times and soil management. It ensures that the crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity.
  • Building management: Remote monitoring and management of appliances and systems, such as lighting and heating can be enabled in a smart home with the use of internet-connected devices.
  • Healthcare: IoT devices can be used to monitor people with chronic or long-term conditions remotely, keep tracking patient medication orders and the location of patients admitted to hospitals. Patients can send health information to caregivers with wearable IoT devices.
  • Transportation: A self-driving car (also called as autonomous car or driverless car) uses a combination of sensors, cameras, radar and artificial intelligence (AI) to travel between predetermined destinations without a human operator.

Growing Concerns of IoT

There are already more connected IoT devices than people in the world. Analyst Gartner calculates that around 8.4 billion IoT devices were in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and this will likely reach 20.4 billion by 2020. Total spending on IoT endpoints and services will reach almost $2tn in 2017, with two-thirds of those devices found in China, North America and Western Europe, said Gartner.

These IoT devices are collecting extremely sensitive data in many cases, such as your health, your conversation and behavior in your home. Security and personal privacy become the primary concern among consumers and businesses. Hackers could penetrate connected cars, critical infrastructure, and even people’s homes. Several tech companies are already focusing on cyber security in order to secure the privacy and safety of all this data.

Another concern is the massive amounts of data produced by the devices. Data from sensors and the like comprises large numbers of small chunks of data, and will require high levels of I/O. Much of this real-time data will be stored in databases and, to be analyzed correctly, will need to be processed in the right order. This implies the need for very fast storage, especially if processing is to be performed as near to real time as possible. High storage capacity and low latency are also required for real-time data processing. Companies need to figure out a way to store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast amounts of data that are generated by these devices.