What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

    Internet of Things Definition

    Internet of Things (IoT) is the linking of physical objects- from an electronic appliance to the most rigid physical structures, through wired and wireless networks with the help of sensors and actuators embedded in such physical objects. The Internet of Things allows one to sense the condition of the physical objects controlled remotely across an existing network.

    This is a modern way of integration of physical objects into a computer-based system, thus creating opportunities for improved accuracy, efficiency, and economic advantage. The harmony between the gathering of data by the sensors and execution of the task by actuators, guide the base of the IoT. Cloud-based applications are the backbone of such a system.

    Without such cloud-based applications for correct interpretation and transmission of the data coming from all the sensors, the Internet of Things fails to function. IoT also is known as the Internet of Everything.

    Sensors collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. In a typical manner, the Internet of Things offers advanced connection among devices, systems, and services.

    Internet of Things is very proudly linked to Machine to Machine communications. It is expected that it will consist of over 50 billion devices by 2020. Internet of Things is also expected to generate large amounts of data from diverse locations. With the consequent necessity for quick aggregation of the data, and an increase in the need to index store, and process such data more effectively.

    For example,

    Every year, thousands of lives lost because of the failure of the physical structures. How the Internet of Things can be incorporated in these cases is an interesting example. While we build these physical structures, we can use smart cement: cement equipped with sensors. These sensors monitor stresses, cracks, and other abnormalities and alert us to fix the problems. These technologies, not limited to such physical structures makes life easier. Other areas include automobiles with built-in sensors, heartbeat monitoring devices, smart grids, smart firefighters, rescue devices, etc.

    Internet of Things Background

    Internet of Things is not a very new topic in the market. It is not something that we will be witnessing in the future only because there are assets in the current market that exhibit the hint of what we are going to see in the future. Current home automation devices such as automatic lighting, heating, air conditioning appliances, dryers that use the internet for monitoring.

    Coined by Peter T. Lewis in September 1985 at U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) session at the Congressional Black Caucus, Internet of Things has traveled a massive distance regarding popularity.

    In the early 1980s, the concept of networking in devices initiated with a modified and smart Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University arising as the first Internet-connected system. This appliance could report its stock and whether the drinks that were newly loaded were cold.

    “The Computer of the 21st Century”, a seminal paper about ubiquitous computing by Mark Weiser in 1991 as well as academic venues like UbiComp and PerCom generated a relatively recent vision of the Internet of Things. Reza Raji in 1994 represented the concept in IEEE Spectrum as “small moving packets of data to a large set of nodes, to integrate and automate everything from home appliances to entire factories.”


    Many companies like Microsoft (at Work) and Novell (NEST) proposed solutions between 1993 and 1996. Though, it was only in 1999 when the field started collecting momentum.  During his presentation in the World Economic Forum in 1999 at Davos, Bill Joy conceived Device to Device (D2D) communication as a portion of his “Six Webs” framework.

    At the U.S., Federal Communications Commission (FCC) supported wireless session at the Congressional Black Caucus 15th Legislative Weekend Conference in 1985, the speech given by Peter T. Lewis stated that “The Internet of Things, or IoT, is the integration of people, processes and technology with connectable devices and sensors to enable remote monitoring, status, manipulation, and evaluation of trends of such devices.”

    Internet of Things got its popularity in 1999 through different publications including Auto-ID Center and other relatable market analysis papers. Kevin Ashton who was one of the founders of the original Auto-ID Center saw Radio-frequency identification (RFID) as one of the indispensable parts of the Internet of Things or the “Internet for Things” as preferred by Ashton.

    According to him, the computer could manage and inventory all the objects and people in daily life, if they were all equipped with identifiers. The tagging of things done by technologies like digital watermarking, bar-codes, QR codes, and near field communications makes work easy and simple.

    For example,

    Another gripping example where we can see Machine to Machine communications is a smart car communicating with a smart road. Considering the smart road provided with some sensors or chips that can measure the wetness of the road.

    During rainy seasons, the tires do tend to slip while speeding in these situations. Provided that the road is a smart one. The sensors in the road will detect the wet conditions and communicate the information through the wireless internet to the car. Once the car knows there’s a slippery road ahead, instructions to slow down will appear on the screen of the car, and if the driver doesn’t respond, then the car will slow down itself.

    Such type of communication between a smart road and a smart car will surely help to reduce the accidents. This is just one of the several ways that Sensor to Machine and Machine to Machine communication can take place. The sole purpose of this interaction is to convert the information collected by the sensors to actions.

    Components and technologies

    Internet of Things compromises of sensors monitoring and tracking all sorts of data; cloud-based apps translating that data into useful intelligence and transmitting it to machines for real-time responses. And thus, roads turn into smart roads, and car into smart cars. Soon, this will be expanding to smart cities and beyond!

    Internet of things is not just about money savings, not just about smart structures, and smart cities. It’s about the huge fundamental shift for creating new products and new services. Internet of Things is perhaps the biggest technology trend now. It is surely going to give us the most distortion as well as the most opportunity for the future.

    Because of uniformity in various technologies, the vision of the Internet of Things has developed in the present scenario. The prevalent wireless communications, sensors embedded systems, and real-time analytics play a very important role in establishing this ever-growing vision. It is important to know that the traditional fields of such wireless communications, sensors embedded systems, automation, and control systems all have contributed to enabling the concept of the Internet of Things.

    The major outcome of putting the Internet of things into practice would surely be the transformation of daily life. For example, precise but ceaseless inventory control would become omnipresent. The interaction between objects and the user remotely controlled based on present requirements of the user. For instance, such technology could help in the enforcement of the legal issues of copyright and digital rights management.

    Is the internet of things a real deal?

    Answering this question is surprisingly tough. Why? Because it is marketing that publicizes any technology. We can infer from the past that every new technology is mocked by so-called tech-pundits. Even the first iPhone had its haters because of extremely tough functions to decide among other phones. The Internet of Things is not dependent on a single appliance or idea, the reality is a little closer.

    We are going to have inter-connected appliances shortly. The buzz is surely going to decrease as we can see how smartphones have just become phones. Real deal or not? Nobody can predict the future. A closer assumption made staying closer to the present progress, we can say the future is of smart devices.

    The Internet of things (stylised Internet of Things or IoT) is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

    Global Standards Initiative on the Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defined the IoT as “the infrastructure of the information society”. The IoT allows object sensing or controlling remotely across the existing network infrastructure. Which then creates opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems.

    When IoT augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of a class of cyber-physical systems. Which then also encompasses technologies such as smart grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation, and smart cities. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but can interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.

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