The Internet of Things, simply called IoT, integrates and connects the devices and “things” that we use daily to communicate with minimal human intervention.
It is a network of devices, home items, buildings, and other items that have sensors and are capable of collecting data and using it to make smart decisions. All these items are connected to the internet to consolidate data and make decisions from the data.
Take an example where your fridge can keep track of items stored in there and it produces a suggested menu according to what is available. A car that uses the GPS system to suggest the best route to avoid heavy traffic on the road.
Take wearable devices that can monitor your body vitals and advise on what to do next. All those and others are examples of how IoT is used in today’s information-age world.
Table of Contents
Components of IoT
Physical item or “Thing” (Sensor)
These are the physical items in the real world that users interact with directly. They can include buildings, cars, machines, animals, humans, and computers, among many other objects.
These things are usually equipped with sensors, and actuators to collect data from the environment. The sensors can detect various physical phenomena like temperature, motion, location, touch, smoke, and humidity among others.
Some of them have microprocessors to process data while others collect and forward for processing to a cloud-based server.
Connectivity or network
For the communication and integration among devices to be successful, they require a network to link all things together. The devices should have the capability to connect to the internet using any available type of connection.
They can use communication technologies such as Wi-Fi, Ethernet, infrared, Bluetooth, and cellular networks. The connection allows things to send and receive the collected and processed data.
Data processing (cloud)
Most devices and things used in IoT are small devices that have small storage and processing power. This ensures they require less power and they conserve energy. To mitigate the storage and processing power problem the devices send data to the cloud for storage and processing.
Data processing can be as simple as comparing if a certain level of temperature is met or as complex as using machine learning and artificial intelligence. All this will depend on the objective and what the device needs to make the decision on.
This is the interactive interface of IoT that the user can manipulate the device, and get feedback on input data. It is designed to be simple and user-friendly.
The user interface can be where users get a notification, change settings, and monitor progress among other activities depending on the application in place.
For all these other components to function well they require to be secured. The security of IoT should be enhanced from each point of the system. From the device, network, cloud, and data processing, they all should be secure.
Types of internet of things
IoT technologies can be classified depending on how and where they are used. The different types that are recognized are.
Consumer Internet of Things
These are devices that common users use. They primarily include wearable smart devices. For example, a smartwatch that monitors a person’s vitals and gives a basic health status of the individual.
The industrial Internet of Things is mostly used in large industries like automotive manufacturing where components are linked together to monitor the production line.
The technology reduces inefficiency in the industry and makes the work environment safe for worker
This is where the technology is used in commercial enterprises such as healthcare, supermarkets, offices, and logistics among other areas. Things of tracking an item that you are shipping from one corner of the world to the next.
It is also called battlefield IoT. It is where the technology is used to reduce response time, risk analysis of situations, and increase preparedness in the military.
It can also be used to connect different military equipment to track and monitor all their systems.
Characteristics of internet of things technology
Devices within the technology should be connected to the environment to collect data. After the collection, the data is transferred over the network for processing and action. So for IoT to succeed there should be a vast infrastructure of connection devices.
Things and device that makes up the technology use artificial intelligence. They also have a sensor that makes them “intelligent” to sense the environment and react.
With a vast network of devices, IoT should have ways of securing both the device and the data. Different methods can be used to secure both data and devices when being processed or in transit.
Internet of Things technology is not owned by any specific company and hence it should have an open architecture that accommodates all manufacturers. It should accommodate different hardware, software, and network protocols to ensure all stakeholders are catered for.
The technology is simple to scale from a few devices connected to millions. It is expected by the year 2030 we will have over a Billion devices connected to the internet. With new better and cheaper devices coming up we expect to have a vast network of devices communicating over the internet.
Identity of Things
For the devices to be able to communicate they require to be uniquely identified. There are different methods that are used to identify devices or things that are connected to the internet. Some of the main methods used are IP address, International Mobile Equipment Identity(IMEI) number, and Media Access Control (MAC) number among others.
The IoT is data driven which can be relied upon for decision making. IoT devices collect data on the environment where the action is happening which means we get the real data. When analyzed using all the latest technology it becomes the best method of data collection and analysis.