Have you heard of the Internet of Things (also known as IoT)? I admit that I had not. But, it’s a thing – a big thing these days.
According to Wikipedia, the Internet of Things is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and the network connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data. The term IoT was coined in 1999.
I know – that description may not have helped much. Have you ever used a Google Home, or an Amazon Alexa? If so, you have worked with examples of the Internet of Things at work. The IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing networks.
It’s amazing really that these days we can talk to an electronic device and have it give us all kinds of information. This would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, and when I was growing up, I’m not sure if even the space-age cartoon “The Jetsons” would have thought this far.
And if Alexa seems a little superficial, IoT technology is also used for things with far greater value. Heart-monitoring implants, biochips and cameras tracking animals, car sensors, and devices used by firefighters in search and rescue missions are all examples of IoT technology that have high stakes. These items are examples of “things” that collect data and use it with help from various technological interfaces.
Today, there are a whole group of companies dealing with ad-hoc reporting and self-service reporting of data that support all the technology that business uses today. We’ve definitely come a long way from the days of pencil, paper, and static printed reports.
Switching On to the Internet
If this is still all a bit confusing, you can think of the Internet of Things as the concept of connecting any device with an on/off switch to the internet. Examples could be cell phones (for instance, I can use internet on my phone if I’m at a place that offers wi-fi), coffee makers, washing machines, etc. Your washing machine doesn’t connect to the internet? Give it time! It has been estimated that by 2020, over 26 billion-with-a-B devices will be connected to the internet.
How does all this affect you? Well, in many ways. For instance, your phone could notify you of upcoming events you have on your phone’s calendar. Friends could be sent a text if your phone saw that traffic was heavy along your route to their house. I know – this all sounds very space-age, but it’s the times we’re living in.
Can you think of some examples of how the Internet of Things affects your daily life?