There’s been a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (or IoT) and its impact on everything around us from the way we travel and how we shop to the way manufacturers keep track of inventory. The question which arises is what exactly is the Internet of Things and how does it work? Is it really important?
What is the Internet of Things?
In a broad sense, the Internet of Things is the concept of connecting any device to the Internet and to other connected devices. The IoT is a widespread network of connected things and people. All of this is collected and data is shared about the way they are used and about the environment around them.
This is inclusive of an extraordinary number of objects in all forms and sizes, be it smart microwaves, which automatically cook your food for the right amount of time, to self-driving cars, which has advanced sensors to detect objects in their way, to wearable fitness devices that measure your heart rate and the number of steps you’ve taken in a given period of time, this information is then used to suggest exercise plans tailored for you. There are even connected footballs that can track how far and fast they are thrown and record those statistics through an app for future training purposes.
How does it work?
Devices and objects with built-in sensors are connected to an Internet of Things platform, which integrates data from different devices and applies analytics to share the valuable information with applications built to address specific needs.
These powerful IoT platforms can determine exactly what information is useful and what can safely be ignored. This information can be used to recognise patterns, make recommendations, or even discover possible problems before they occur.
For example, if one owns a car manufacturing business, he/she might want to know which optional components, say leather seats or alloy wheels are the most popular. Using the Internet of Things technology, it’s possible to:
• Use sensors to analyse which retail shops are the most popular in an area and where consumers stay put the longest
• Dive deep in the available sales data to identify which components are selling the fastest;
• Automatically align sales data with supply ensuring that popular items don’t go out of stock.
This information which is picked up by connected devices enables one to make smart decisions about which components to stock up on, based on real-time information which helps in saving time and money.
With the insight provided by advanced analytics makes processes more efficient. Smart objects and systems mean you can automate certain tasks, especially when they are repetitive, mundane, time-consuming or even dangerous. Mentioned below are some examples to see the application of IoT in real-life scenarios.
Scenario №1: IoT in homes
A connected or IoT-enabled alarm clock would reset itself based on various factors, to ensure you get to work on time. It could identify that your usual train is cancelled and calculate the driving distance. It could also calculate the travel time for an alternative route to work, check the weather and even factor in slower travelling speed because of heavy rain. So, it analyses when it needs to wake you up so you’re not late. It might be even able to sync with your IoT-enabled coffee maker, to ensure your morning coffee is ready to go when you wake up.
Scenario №2: IoT in transport
In a connected car, the sensor that triggered the check engine light would communicate with others in the car. A component referred to as diagnostic bus collects data from these sensors and passes it to a gateway in the car, which sends the most relevant information to the manufacturer’s platform. The manufacturer can use this data from the car to offer an appointment to get the part fixed or send directions to the nearest dealer, making sure the correct replacement part is ordered.