Understanding the Internet of Things: The Easy Guide
Internet of things or IoT is a network of connected devices that has the ability to record and communicate data over a wireless medium. Just like the Internet connects webpages stored in servers all around the world, the Internet of things connects everyday devices like refrigerators, water heaters, and microwave ovens. For example, imagine that your refrigerator is able to record the data of all the food items it is currently storing. Likewise, it will be able to notify you when your food stock decreases below the predefined value. Furthermore, with more advanced functionalities, it may be able to order the food you require automatically.
How Does the Internet of things (IoT) Work?
Experts predict that there will be more than 40 billion connected devices by the mid of this decade. It will also be a major contributor to the fourth industrial revolution. Therefore, understanding how the Internet of things works is essential for anyone whatever your background or profession is.
The following are the major components that go into the working of IoT.
Sensors are devices that are used to measure some physical quantities. They are designed in such a way that the quantity to be measured will produce an electric signal (in most cases). For example, a light sensor may have a component that gives a voltage depending on the intensity of light upon it. These voltages can be read by a digital device and stored in digital form. The major function of a sensor in IoT is to collect and if possible, store data.
Wireless communication technologies are at the heart of IoT. At present, most of the IoT devices work on Bluetooth and WiFi technologies. However, they are limited in range and data rates. With the rise of 5G technologies, you can expect rapid development of IoT devices and applications.
The processing hardware could be a microcontroller that interacts with the sensor and transmits data. Much of the development in the Internet of things, or digital technologies in general, is powered by the exponential advancement in microprocessor manufacturing technologies. Processors are getting smaller, powerful, and easier to interface day by day.
IoT devices transfer enormous amounts of data every day. The processing software must be able to receive, store, process, and analyze them for extracting fruitful information. Big data technologies will facilitate the handling of billions of data coming from tens of thousands of interconnected devices.
Major Applications of the Internet of Things
IoT has the potential to transform any industry from automobiles and healthcare to disaster management and security. Some of the major areas of applications are listed below.
The development of wearable medical devices and sensors can change the way healthcare is provided. Doctors can read the health information of patients from a remote location and store it in electronic medical records. Likewise, it will reduce congestion in hospitals, and thus management will be easier for doctors and nurses. Furthermore, we are beginning to see the use of robots in surgeries.
The Internet of things will power the smart farms of tomorrow. These devices can automatically detect the chemical quality and moisture in the soil and report to farm owners. Furthermore, they can add water and nutrients when it is required. The major advantages of using these technologies in agriculture is the reduction in water usage, energy, and early identification of diseases in crops.
Industries and Manufacturing
With the Internet of things, all the machines and equipment in the industry can be monitored and controlled accordingly. This will help technicians to identify possible malfunctions and anomalies early on. Furthermore, the applications of robots and digital manufacturing technologies are also the major features of the fourth industrial revolution. Multiple machines might have to work together and transfer enormous amounts of data between them swiftly.
With the Internet of things, you might be able to control all the devices on your home with your voice or touch command. Google Home and Alexa are some of the most common examples. Although they may not be mainstream now, their applications are expected to increase in the coming years.
The Internet of things will be the core of digital and smart cities in the future. They will improve the supply of electricity and water, monitor traffic on roads and bridges, assess the health of degrading structures, and measure pollution and greenhouse emissions.
Major Challenges of the Internet of Things
Even though the Internet of things has a promising future, it is not free from challenges. One of the greatest challenges is the security of such high volumes of data and information being transmitted daily. Breaches and hacks in critical information like medical and financial records can be fatal. Likewise, breaches in privacy is also a major concern. A single person can disrupt the coordination of hundreds of machines in an industry. Furthermore, it requires billions of devices to manufactured which can stress the available resources on our planet. Moreover, power consumption will also be a crucial factor.
In this blog, we have learned what the Internet of things is, how it works, the major application areas, and the challenges it faces.
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