Unless you have been living under a rock in the middle of a desert for the past decade, chances are that you have heard, at least remotely, of the Internet of Things. The technology holds immense promise for the future and has already begun to take the world by storm. If you have no inkling of anything connected to this whatsoever, don’t worry, for we’ve got you covered.
The Internet of Things, (often shortened to IoT) in the simplest of explanations, is a system by which all ‘dumb things’ that surround us – the normal appliances that we use daily, for example – are made ‘smart’ by connecting each other via the internet. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Often the simplest and the most nondescript of ideas have the power to change the world. Really.
In addition to being connected to the internet, the components of an IoT network have access to the Cloud, so that they can access relevant information from other sources in order to provide better services.
A few examples
Imagine your car reminding you to fill fuel the next day before you head off to work so that you don’t end up stranded somewhere. What’s more, it intimates your alarm clock to set an alarm half an hour in advance, so that you can wake up early and run the errand without being late for work.
Or think of this: a coffee maker that you can control with your smartphone even if you are half a world away from where it is situated. You can set the parameters via a smartphone app, choose if you want a cappuccino, mocha or just a plain old cup of filter coffee, hit ‘Go!’ and voila, the machine churns out your order seamlessly! Your guests will not have to fear your abysmal coffee making skills ever again.
Smart home systems that do your bidding at the press of a smartphone icon.
These and a lot more wondrous applications are now under processing or in the prototype stage thanks to IoT. Sounds like magic, but they’ll all be a part of our everyday lives pretty soon.
How IoT has been faring so far?
Though the term Internet of Things was coined only in 1999, rudimentary IoT-like devices have been discussed since as early as 1982. The field saw a real boom only much later, around 2008-2009, and since then, there has been no looking back.
It is estimated that by 2020, the number of connected devices all over the world would be anywhere between 26 and 100 billion. That’s a huge number of connections and a huger amount of data generated. Efficient algorithms that classify and analyze data, better wireless transmission systems, and faster processor chips are all being developed and researched upon all over the globe to aid and hasten the rise of IoT.
So how exactly does IoT work?
Yes, IoT sounds great and is growing pretty fast, but how does it actually make all of this possible?
The secret behind all the magic is that essentially, IoT is a cloud (the one that found fame with ‘cloud computing’, of course. We’re not talking about the one that threatens to ruin your drying clothes every single time). A cloud is basically a huge interconnected network of products and services, where resources and data can be ‘borrowed’ from each other by the constituents of the network whenever required.
For example, when a coffee maker needs to know your preferences to make a cup of coffee and process the order, it needn’t have to have a state-of-the-art supercomputer chip to do so. All it has to do is to get your preferences from the cloud (where your smartphone app puts it up), ‘borrow’ some computing power to make the necessary deductions and send the instructions back to the weak processor or the system-on-chip (SoC) that is present in the coffee maker. No fuss.
If you really grasp the idea, you’ll appreciate the beauty of it: this system is certainly more efficient in terms of cost and power than having to use processors of high computing power for each appliance in your house. True, your possessions will still consume more power than when they were still ‘dumb’, but hey, some trade-offs are absolutely necessary when you are upgrading your lifestyle to something of this level.
Oh, wait, the data that’s going to be generated…
…will be of enormous amounts. Of course. What else should we expect, with billions of devices churning out information every second?
Sorting out and analyzing all that big data is no small task. In fact, it is a job better left for machines to slog over. Big data analytics has been instrumental in helping IoT devices decide what is relevant to their task and what is not. This is, in fact, a huge research area as far as IoT is concerned.
Where does it go from here?
IoT is all set to be the technology that builds our future, what with all that growth and its future prospects. Every industry, service, and product can find a way and a place in this network, with largely positive results. The possibilities are endless.
Looking at the other side of the coin…
If all this gives you the chills at some point, no, you are not alone. IoT devices collect a lot of personal data about you all the time, and security and privacy concerns all abound about this aspect of the technology. It is said that it is even possible to deduce what you had for a meal from parameters such as kitchen appliance energy consumption and your home’s interior temperature. If something as trivial as your dinner can be tracked, what other aspects of your life may be watched, heard and recorded?
Apart from the collection of data, another pressing issue is its storage. Even if your service provider doesn’t misuse your data, what if someone hacks into their database? It is definitely not a great idea to have all your details put up online where any malicious party can access them with not-so-good intentions, is it?
With this being said, having household devices connected to the internet also exposes them to the risk of getting hacked. What if your car or your electric cooker has been hacked, and decides not to operate until you pay a ransom amount to the hacker? Scary situations indeed.
While new technology is being developed every day to aid the growth of IoT and help plug its loopholes, it is important to acknowledge the possible paradigm shifts that it’ll bring to human existence. Every day brings new advancements in this field, so contact us now to get equipped with the best IoT services.