What is the Internet of Things

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internet of things… and Why IoT

Matters to You

If you’ve been following technology trends (and who does not?!), you will know that IoT (Internet of Things) is a big deal. Why it is so important, when we all know that internet is just bunches of data mysteriously floating through space from one device to another, via a tangle of cables and a myriad of satellites?

Basically, Internet of Things is just that: millions of devices, people and places linked in a network. The “thing” in IoT can be a person with a heart monitor implant; a farm animal with a biochip; a car with built-in sensors that alert the driver when tire pressure is low; environment monitoring systems, or anything else that can be assigned an IP address and enabled to transfer data over a network, just like your internet-enabled computer.

When talking about IoT, people talk about such diverse operations as a smart home (controlling your fridge, thermostat, outlet switches etc. from one single app); smart cities (monitoring and reacting to temperature, energy use, traffic flow); personal monitors that send data to medical professionals in real-time; and so on.

smart homeIt is estimated that the installed base of active connected devices will exceed 16 billion in 2014, rising to… some say 26, some 30, some 40 billion by 2020. However, things are only one part of the picture. Even more importantly, IoT is the data that is captured, processed, and communicated (often in real time) between the devices. This is where the Internet of Things gets interesting: when the information from devices and systems is combined, cross-referenced, analysed and processed, so that clever devices interacting with the advanced analytics can not only create reports, but also to act upon them. They could, for example, decide when something needs to be repaired or replaced, without any input from humans.

Today, computers and the internet are almost wholly dependent on human beings. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data currently available on the internet were first captured and created by humans typing, recording, scanning, etc. Imagine the abundance of data gathered by devices without any help from people. It would make it possible to track and count everything, leading to better management and reduction in waste and cost.

Of course, all this tracking also raises many questions about privacy, hacking, crime, government spying… meaning, we need to look at its benefits while also being aware of the risks in order to minimize them.

We are in the early stages in the creation of an Internet of Things. Experts say that today (end 2014) IoT is where computing was in the early 1980s. However, by all counts, this newest development will materialise much faster and change our lives more profoundly than even internet did. So, it makes sense to start getting ready.

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