Internet of Things (IoT)

In this article, we will be taking a journey to understand Internet of Things (IoT), and to this end, the journey will be guided by the underlisted:

  1. What is IoT?
  2. The evolution of IoT
  3. Use cases of the Internet of Things
  4. IoT products

What is IoT? 

The Internet of things describes physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and interact with each other to exchange data and information across devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks.

The evolution of IoT

Just like many other things, the concept of growth and evolution cannot be denied. Humans grow and we are evolving, the way we interact with other humans and non-humans have gradually changed and it is constantly in motion of change. This also applies to the internet of things.

The first IOT was called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).  ARPANET was the first network to be connected – the forefather of the Internet as we know it today. ARPANET is where the history of IoT begins. 

David Nichols, a graduate student in the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, wanted to know if the department’s coke vending machine had cold soda bottles in 1982. He was tired of going to the vending machine only to discover that there was no cold bottle available; the vending machine was quite far from his classrooms. As a result, he wanted to be prepared.

He was assisted in this endeavor by Mike Kazar and Ivor Durham, two fellow students, and John Zsarnay, who was also a research engineer at the university. The code they wrote would check if coke was available in the vending machine, and if yes, whether it was cold or not. If there was anyone on the university ARPANET they were able to monitor the status of the coke vending machine. This is the basis of IoT and the internet.

Another major event occurred in 1990 John Romkey developed a toaster that could easily be turned on and off over the Internet. The toaster was wired to the computer since WiFi was not available at that time.

 This innovation is considered as the first IoT device – the first “thing” that began the Internet of Things.

Use cases of Internet of things

 The rate of adoption of the use of IoT is gaining momentum according to the latest report on IoT use cases adoption released in 2021.

According to the report, manufacturing, technology, health, retail have been reported to make use of IoT in at least 8 different instances. The topmost user of the IoT in the industry is the oil and gas industry with at least 15 IoT use case instances.

Listed below are the most use cases of IoT:

  1. Read-only remote asset monitoring:  this refers to assets that are far away but are connected in a read-only manner. That means you can only read the reports but you cannot send feedback or commands.
  2.  Smart Factories: we have predictive maintenance, Maintenance is conducted to prevent predicted problems. So over the lifetime of a machine, some components may never be checked if they are not predicted to cause problems.
  3. Smart cities: According to Kay Sharpington of Gartner, “the COVID-19 pandemic is slowing down spending, but governments around the world are continuing to use IoT technologies and solutions to improve citizen safety.” At the same time, falling endpoint and connectivity costs make smart city initiatives more viable.” According to Gartner, the global government Internet of Things (IoT) endpoint electronics and communications market will be worth $15 billion in 2020, a 6% increase over 2019. The same study also reveals the top five government IoT applications and the revenue generated by each use case, as shown below:
  4. Energy Management: For industrial businesses, energy can be a costly input. With fluctuating energy costs and stringent government efficiency requirements, managing energy distribution becomes critical.  Based on real-time data collected from devices, IoT devices can assist manufacturers in managing energy consumption. Intelligent energy management systems reduce energy bills, operational costs, and the factory’s carbon footprint while increasing energy efficiency. WebNMS is an IoT platform that offers IoT applications such as energy management to help businesses optimize their energy consumption.
  5. E- Toll collection and traffic management: Traffic engineers, aided by smart systems at a central traffic management center (TMC), can analyze data from IoT sensors and optimize traffic light timing throughout the day. As traffic volume fluctuates, this can help divide traffic more evenly across roads.

IoT Products:   

Two major functions determine what can be classier as an IoT product. They are:

  1. Any device which is enabled to connect with the internet in any way.
  2. Any device that is integrated with technology such as sensors, functional software, some inbuilt technology that supports network connections, and also actuators.

The combination of these two factors is what makes an IoT device. 

Common examples of IoT products are Smart Mobiles, smart refrigerators, smartwatches, smart fire alarms, smart door locks, smart bicycles, medical sensors, fitness trackers, smart security systems, etc. which are a few examples of IoT products.

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