What is IOT? – A short and simple explanation

By | April 12, 2016

The Internet of Things or “IoT” is probably one of the hottest technical topics of 2016. Although the concept is not new and goes back to the 1980s and 1990s, it is right now that it is really gaining momentum and can become one of the fastest growing businesses in the next 5 years (predicted up to trillions of USD).

internet-of-things

There is a huge amount of posts, articles, and white papers on the internet, trying to explain what IOT is, what possibilities it would create, and what its challenges are.

In this post, I’ve tried to explain the topics as simply as possible for those who want to get an idea of the concept in a very short time and without all the fuss.

What is IOT?

IOT is about connecting “Things” to the “Internet”. This connection can be wired or wireless.

The term “Things” is wisely chosen as it can include literally everything: from obvious things such as computers and smartphones that are already connected to Internet, to home appliances, wearables, vehicles, factory machines, to tagged animals and consumables.

What are the key components of IOT?

The key components of IoT can be summarized as follows:

  • Sensors: sensors enable us to collect data about the status of the “Thing”. Sensors are probably the most important components of IOT and can include data such as temperature, GPS location, speed, and all other usable data about the “Thing”.
  • Controllers: IoT is not just about collecting data of the status of things. It can also include controlling the “Thing” over the internet – such as turning off or on a device, stopping a vehicle, locking/unlocking a door, adjusting the temperature of an oven and any other controllable aspect of the “Thing”.
  • Software: apart from the required hardware that should be embedded to every “Thing” that is connected to internet as part of “IoT”, probably the most exciting part of IoT is the software. Once you know the devices that can be sensed and controlled over the internet, you have the needed tools for endless ideas and creativity through the applications that can be developed to provide automated or semi-automated solutions based on human-device and device-device communications.

What “Things” are expected to be part of IoT?

It is very hard to predict what IoT will cover in the next 5 years – the concept is exploding with new ideas every day. Some ideas include:

  • Home appliances: fridges, cookers, coffee makers, heaters, HVAC, TVs, DVD players, lights, doors, windows …
  • Wearables: clothes, shoes, hats, watches, heart monitors …
  • Vehicles: cars, buses, bicycles, trains …
  • Factories: machines, robots, warehouse shelves, parts within machines, tools …
  • Agriculture: biochip transponders on farm animals and plants, farm humidity and temperature sensors …
  • Food: sensors for monitoring the condition of food.

Challenges and Risks

Without a doubt, the most critical challenge and risk of IoT is its security, and how much it would be immune against cyber-attacks, hackers, and unauthorized intruders. With billions of “Things” connected to the internet, it would also mean that by unauthorized access one can create disasters that we’ve already watched in so many science fiction movies.

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