The Internet of Things (IoT) Explained
The Internet of Things, or IoT is a phrase which is coming into common parlance more and more often, and effectively describes the extension of the internet into physical everyday objects. However, in order to properly understand what the IoT is, it is also important to know what the Internet actually is so that the parallel can be understood.
A (very) brief history of the internet
The internet in its most commonly understood guise originated in America as part of research commissioned by the government. The aim of the research was to develop fault tolerant communication between networks as a successor to the network method known as ARPANET. Effectively the modern internet was born when commercial networks joined together using this technology in the 1990s. It is also key to note that there is a difference between the internet and the World Wide Web (WWW). The WWW is a system whereby resources and documents can be located using Uniform Resource Locators or URLs via the internet.
We are all very familiar with the internet in our modern lives and our ever connected and communicative world. And this internet hand in hand with technological advances has developed the Internet of Things. In simple terms the Internet of Things takes as many things in the world and connects them to the internet. We all have these things – from mobile phones and tablets, to more complex home hubs that truly utilise the capabilities of the technology. Artificial Intelligence is arguably the main driving force in the IoT, with Alexa, Siri and Cortana to name but a few.
Why is the IoT Important?
We can clearly see in our everyday lives why the IoT is valuable, but the bigger question to consider is why it is important. The applications of this in the mainstream are mostly for non-essential purposes, in the broader scheme there are many vital uses for this technology. Heart and blood pressure monitors can be wirelessly attached to the internet, streaming vital statistics to a real person, or an intelligent algorithm which can alert the appropriate authority should there be any danger signs.
Farming is also an area often quoted when considering the benefits of the IoT. Drip irrigation is one of the most prevalent areas, closely followed by water distribution and even farm surveillance using drones. In America some farming operations are the sizes of what entire counties would be in other countries, so these technologies are changing the face of rural farming.
On top of all these things is the benefit of knowing that the IoT is constantly providing knowledge, information and data to better inform technology in the future. It gathers and assesses intelligently the way that we both engage with and use our smart devices and in that regard it can be argued that it has changed the face of market research. Soon to be gone are the days where companies require us to fill out surveys and questionnaires. Now a business could in principle have up to the minute metrics and data about its products and consumers.
All these facts considered together show just some of the importance and reach of the IoT. It may not be a phrase you know much about, but it can be almost guaranteed that the IoT knows plenty about you and your habits already.