Beginner's Guide to Internet of Things (IoT)

Jul 2, 2021
6 min read
Beginner's Guide to IoT

I’m sure your alarm does a fine job of waking you up for work every morning. But imagine your alarm connected to your home appliances.

As soon as you dismiss your alarm and wake up, the geyser regulates the water temperature for a comfortable shower. When you get out of the shower, your smart coffee machine makes you a cup. After you grab your coffee, your car gets automatically preheated so that you are ready to head to your workplace.

There is a lot of buzz about IoT and how it will impact our lives and surroundings. But what is IoT, and why is it important?

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The IoT Network Representation

Any physical device that gets connected to the internet falls under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). It is a vast network of connected things that collect and share information. From your laptop and phones to Google Home and Apple Watch are all examples of IoT.

IoT is a simple term with complex details. It is often confused because it is so extensive and roughly defined. It opens up infinite possibilities, like self-driving cars, a smart fridge that makes a list of needed grocery, and remote health monitoring watches. It is a bridge connecting the physical and virtual worlds.

There are three fundamental elements of IoT:

HARDWARE

They are the physical devices like sensors, routers, gateways, servers, and other endpoint devices. Their task is to collect, sense, route, or actuate data.

FIRMWARE

It is the software component of IoT devices that performs tasks like sending, receiving, and processing data. They also control the appliances by giving instructions.

CONNECTION

Connectivity creates the IoT network. It forms a communication bridge between different devices through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular data.

Why is IoT Important?

IoT has emerged to become one of the most imperative technologies of the 21stcentury. There are more than 21.5 billion IoT devices now (Statista), and according to an estimate, the net value of the IoT market will range from $1.6 trillion to $14.4 trillion by 2025.

IoT has enabled us to connect our home appliances and everyday objects, providing seamless communication between things and people. When you connect any physical object to the internet, it develops the ability to send and receive data, making it ‘smart.’

Here are a few benefits of IoT:

·       It will enable you to access any required data you need, at any location and at any point in time.

·       It is a massive time-saving tool. The enormous data in IoT helps us to complete tasks rapidly.

·       It makes automation easier, enabling us to focus on more challenging tasks.

·       It opens up endless possibilities and opportunities.

How does IoT Work?

'Smart' Lights

To be ‘smart’ doesn’t mean to operate like a quantum or supercomputer for any device. It simply means to ‘connect’ to a supercomputer or super storage.

In general, IoT works in three stages:

1.     Hardware devices with collect data.

2.     The collected data is shared through the cloud and integrated with the software.

3.     The software runs analysis on the shared data and communicates it to the users.

Let’s understand the working through the example of the fire alarm at home.

You are cooking dinner, but something else catches your attention, making you forget about it. When the food starts burning, the fire alarms detect the smoke through sensors. The collected data gets integrated with the software in it, and it is analyzed. Then, to convey the message, your fire alarms get triggered. All this process happens in a few seconds.

Several technologies have made the idea of IoT practical:

Connectivity

It is an integral part of IoT Devices that allows them to ‘talk’ to other devices and connect to the cloud and sensors to transfer data seamlessly.

Low-cost Sensors

Affordable sensors and other low-cost technologies have made it possible for more manufacturers to produce IoT devices.

Cloud Computing

The availability of cloud platforms to manufacturers and customers enables access to enormous storage for data. It also eases the management and allows them to scale up through the necessary infrastructure that the cloud provides.

Machine Learning

Through the advancements in machine learning, it is easy for organizations to collect insights easily and faster.

Artificial Intelligence

AI combined with IoT has brought personalized digital assistants like Siri and Alexa to life and made them suitable, affordable, and attractive. Their integration has also opened limitless possibilities.

How can IoT Benefit Different Sectors?

When industries integrate IoT devices in their organization, they take their connectivity to Industry 4.0, also called Industrial IoT (IIoT). From Amazon to Google, all the major business giants are now investing in IoT.

Here are a few IoT trends that will benefit different industries.

Manufacturing

Here are some key advancements that IoT will bring in manufacturing.

·       It will optimize the performance of the system and reduce workflow disorganizations.

·       It will help in the management of inventories and maintenance of products.

·       It will reduce the operational costs.

·       The big data analytics of industries will improve.

·       It can help establish temperature-sensitive inventories for items like medicines, flowers, packaged food, and beverages.

Healthcare

Heart-Rate Monitor

IoT allows individuals to understand their health better and enables physicians to monitor their patients through wearable devices remotely.

There are several other advantages that the healthcare industry can obtain through IoT:

·       It helps in the prevention and detection of diseases through IoT devices.

·       It optimizes the daily activities in a hospital by facilitating customer service and supervising medical equipment.

Transportation

Futuristic illustration of Logistics

The transport and logistics center is adapting IoT rapidly and accelerating its growth.

·       IoT increases the overall operational efficiency of the organization.

·       The use of IoT devices lowers the cost of shipping and transportation.

·       The devices allow real-time monitoring of cargo.

·       If unforeseen weather conditions or the unavailability of drivers or vehicles arise, IoT helps to reroute the transportation channels without creating much hassle.

Automotive

Connected cars in the IoT Network

The automobile can realize significant progressions through IoT.

  1. IoT in vehicles will help detect equipment issues and impending failures.

2. It will alert the driver about other essential details.

3. The manufacturers can keep the car owners informed about servicing, repairs, and improvements.

4. It will help vehicles to connect and communicate with other cars.

Public Sector

As mentioned earlier, the possibilities of IoT are endless. For instance, the government and public sector utilities can notify people regarding any new advancements or interruptions in network, power, or water supply. It can also help government bodies properly manage resources, sewage, and garbage disposal system.

Agriculture

IoT devices can sense changes in weather conditions and gather data on the crop’s heath to predict yields. However, it will take time for IoT to reach rural areas since network connection in such regions is nearly non-existent.

The IoT Revolution: What’s Next?

Graphical view of progressing landscape

IoT is the focal point of the Digital Transformation Revolution, changing the way businesses work and even our lives. Its future is boundless. Now, more organizations and industries are reaping the benefits of IoT.

According to a report by Microsoft, by the end of 2021, 94% of organizations will use IoT. Given the massive evolution and adaption, IoT will not just be a trend. It will shape our future.