Internet of Things

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Introduction: Internet of Things

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  • Definition of Internet of Things.
  • What is Internet of Things (IoT)?
  • How did IoT evolve?
  • How does IoT work?
  • Key Features of the Internet of Things
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of IoT
  • Where are we with IoT presently?
  • Future Prospects of Internet of Things
  • Application of Internet of Things
  • Challenges of IoT

Step 1: Definition of Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT), is a network of physical devices or objects which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, connectivity, and actuators. These objects are able to exchange data by this system of connection.

Over the years, the ambiguity characterizing the system has caused a number of definitions to arise. In 2005, it was defined as a means of enabling new forms of communication between people and things by embedding short range mobile transceivers into a wide array of additional gadgets and everyday items. This definition aptly covered the situation at hand then since technological sophistication was hugely limited.

In 2008, IoT became the description for technologies and research disciplines which allowed the internet reach out into the real world which inhabited physical objects. It is projected that by the year 2020, Internet of Things will define objects which possess identities and virtual personalities and which operate in smart spaces. These things employ intelligent interfaces in order to establish connection and communication within social and environmental user frames.

Internet of Things enables remote sensing and control across existing networks, and this in turn creates opportunities which engender a direct interface between the real world and computer-based systems. By doing this, IoT provides users with a deeper level of automation, analysis, and integration within a particular network by employing existing and emerging technological tools.

Step 2: How Did IoT Evolve?

IoT has undergone rapid evolution in the last 2 decades, by banking on the sophisticated technological advancement in the field of IT. As far back as 1997, The Internet of Things was published in a series of ITU report under the title- “Challenges to the network”. The concept was becoming established in 1999 when Kevin Ashton founded the Auto-ID center in MIT.

As at this time, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) was a prerequisite for IoT to properly interface objects and people. Further breakthrough was achieved in 2003 when EPCGlobal; an organization, setup to achieve worldwide standardization and adoption of electronic product code, was again founded in MIT. This time, integration was made possible by tools such as near field communication, barcodes, Bluetooth, digital watermarking, and QR codes.

In 2005, four crucial technologies to the advancement of IoT was proposed in WSIS conference. Three years later, the first international conference of IoT was held in Zurich. In 2013, IDC published a report that IoT would be a $8.9 trillion market in 2020.

Step 3: How Does IoT Work?

IoT is not a novel technological breakthrough on its own, it is rather, a product of several complementary technological advancements which provides the capability to easily bridge the gap between the real world and virtual systems.

RFID deals with the identification and tracking of data of certain objects in the IoT system. It offers real-time connection and accessibility and is connected to the sensor. The sensor, in turn, collects data and processes them in order to observe changes in the physical state of objects. The sensor is oftentimes embedded in the objects themselves, or at a distance from them.

Smart tech offers enhancement to the network’s power by devolving processing functions to various constituents of the network. This aspect deals with embedded intelligence. It also works hand in hand with Nanotechnology, which enhances the connectivity of smaller objects in the network. Nanotech shrinks the objects so they can fit into miniaturized versions of themselves.

Step 4: Key Features of IoT

There are 5 key features of the internet of things and they are explained below;

Artificial Intelligence

Since IoT’s aim is to essentially makes everything smart, it enhances the different aspect of life by utilizing the power of data collection, machine learning algorithms, and networks. This ranges from simple tasks such as enhancing your refrigerator with the necessary tools to detect when your groceries run low and then place an order with your preferred items.

Connectivity.

There are new technologies which enable networking, specifically for IoT. This implies that networks are no longer exclusive to major providers. A system of network which exists on a smaller and cheaper scale, while maintaining its practicality is being created between system devices by IoT.

Sensors.

Without these modified and special sensors, IoT has no uniqueness. The sensors serve as defining instruments for the system and completely transform it from a conventional passive network of objects into an active system which is capable of real-world integration.

Active Engagement.

In today’s world, our technology mainly interacts through passive management. IoT offers an introduction of a new system for active content, product, or service engagement.

Small Devices.

It has been predicted that devices have become smaller, cheaper, and capable of providing more power over time. IoT exploits small devices which are built for the sole purpose of exploiting its accuracy, versatility, and scalability.

Step 5: Advantages of IoT

It is evident in our everyday interaction that IoT has a plethora of merits to offer us. These merits span across every area of lifestyle and business and here are a few points to note.

Better Customer Engagement.

IoT engages its audience in a richer and more effective way by eliminating the blind spots and flaws in accuracy completely. As opposed to the conventional method of connecting, IoT receives and shares meaningful information which it utilizes for the customer’s benefit.

Optimization of Technology.

Technological tools and data which help to improve customer experience also improve the level of optimization and this engenders more potent improvements to the technology. By doing this, IoT unlocks a world of crucial functional and field data.

Reduction of Waste.

IoT clearly defines areas where improvement is needed as opposed to traditional technology which merely offers a superficial insight. Internet of Things provides real-world information, leading to more effective management of resources.

Sophisticated Process of Data Collection

Currently, data collection methods suffer from its inherent design which is best suited for passive use. IoT, however, breaks out and offers a fresh new strategy which is readily available wherever it is needed. This gives a lucid picture of everything we want to see and gather.

Step 6: Disadvantages of IoT

Even though Internet of Things offers an impressive array of advantages, there are few challenges which face the technology.

Security.

IoT creates an ecosystem of devices which are constantly connected and always communicating over these networks. This kind of ecosystem still offers little control, despite security measures. This then causes users to be exposed to various kinds of attackers.

Privacy.

IoT offers a kind of sophistication which provides substantial personal data of different users, even without the user’s active participation. Such exposure is unwarranted and might lead to exploitation, if the information gets to the wrong hands.

Complexity.

The interconnection of systems in the IoT technology is inherently complicated in terms of design, maintenance, and deployment. This is understandable, as they employ multiple technologies and a plethora of data sources.

Step 7: Hardware

The hardware employed in IoT systems comprises of a remote dashboard, gadgets for control, sophisticated servers, routing devices, and highly sensitive sensors. The gadgets help to manage fundamental tasks and actions such as activation of system, action specification, security, communication, and identification to support specific aims and objective.

IoT Sensors.

This is one of the most important hardware products in IoT as it consists of energy modules, power management modules, Radio Frequency modules and modules which sense information. The radio frequency modules manage communication through their signal processing, WiFi, ZigBee, duplexer, and BAW. The sensing module manages the sensing activity by employing an assortment of active and passive measurement devices. Some devices which are used include, accelerometers, magnetometers, micro flow sensors, gas RFID, light sensors, image sensors, humidity sensors, pressure sensors, gyroscopes.

Wearable Electronics.

These electronic devices are small devices which are worn on the head, neck, arms, and feet. Current smart devices include helmets and glasses for the head. Jewelry and collars for the Neck. Watches, wristbands, and rings for the arm. It also includes clothing items and backpacks for the torso, and socks and shoes for the feet.

Standard Devices.

Telephones, tablets, and desktop are integral parts of IoT, and serve as the command center and remotes. The desktop offers the user a very high level of control over the system and its setting. The tablet also gives access to the key features of the system in a way which mimics the desktop, acting as a remote. Some essential settings can also be modified using the cellphone and remote functionality is also provided. Standard network devices such as routers and switches are also a part of the setup.

Step 8: Software

Fundamental areas such as the networking, action through platforms, embedded systems, and middleware are addressed by the software part of IoT. The application is responsible for data collection, device integration, real-time analytics, and extension of processes on the network.

Data Collection

This deals with managing sensing, measurements, data filter, data security, and aggregation of data. It employs certain protocols to enable sensors in connecting with real-time, machine-to-machine networks. It then collects data from different devices and devolves it according to settings. It also works in reverse by distributing data over devices. The system then transmits all the data collected to a central server.

Device Integration

The application supporting integration holds all system devices to create the body of the IoT system. It ensures the needed cooperation and makes sure networking between devices is stable. These applications define the software technology of the network of Internet of Things network because without it, there is no IoT system. They monitor the various applications, protocols, and restrictions of each device, and they allow communication.

Real-Time Analytics

These take data or input from different devices and they convert it into actions which are viable for human analysis. They also analyze information based on the different settings and designs to perform tasks which are related to automation. They also provide the data required by industry.

Application and Process Extension

These are concerned with the extension of the reach of existing systems and software to give room for a wider and more effective system. They integrate predefined gadgets which serve specific purposes like allowing some mobile devices and technological instruments access. It also engenders improved productivity and more precise means of data collection.

Step 9: Technology and Protocols.

The function of Internet of Things is to basically exploit the standard protocols and networking technologies. The key technologies and protocols which achieve this aim are RFID, NFC, Bluetooth, wireless protocols, radio protocols, LTE-A, and WiFi-Direct. These technologies offer support to the specialized networking function needed in an IoT system. This starkly contrasts the traditional uniform network of common systems.

NFC and RFID

RFID, known as radio-frequency identification and NFC, known as near-field communication help to provide simple, versatile options for identity and access tokens, connection bootstrapping, and payments.

RFID technology utilizes a 2-way radio transmitter-receivers to detect and track tags associated with objects.

NFC comprises of communication protocols which are used by electronic devices, more often, it is a mobile device, and a standard device.

Energy Efficient Bluetooth

This technology underpins the low-power, long-use need of IoT function in the process of employing a standard technology which uses native support across systems.

Energy Efficient Wireless

This technology aims to replace the most power hungry option of an IoT system. Even though sensors and some other elements have the ability to stay without power over long periods of time, the wireless communication link must remain in listening mode. Low-energy wireless system not only helps consumption; it also extends the life-cycle of the device through less use.

Radio Protocols

ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Thread are radio protocols which creates low-rate private area networks. These technologies consume low amount of power, however, they offer a high output unlike many similar options [9]. This helps to increase the power of small local device networks and does not incur the typical costs.

LTE-A

LTE-A, short form of LTE Advanced, offers an important upgrade to the existing LTE technology by increasing the coverage and reducing its latency. This ultimately raises its output. It offers Internet of Things an enormous amount of power by expanding its range. Applications are significant in UAV, Vehicle applications, and similar communication.

WiFi-Direct

This eliminates the need for an access point. It enables P2P (peer-to-peer) connections using the speed of WiFi, however, it offers lower latency. WiFi-Direct also eliminates what causes the network to be bogged it down. It also does not alter the speed or output.

Step 10: Common Uses of IoT

IoT is been applied across many industries and markets. It is being employed by a wide range of users, including those who plan to reduce energy use in their home to multinational organizations whose aim is to streamline their operations. IoT proves to be useful, and fundamental in many industries which propel technological advances and advanced automation in the distant future.

Engineering, Industry, and Infrastructure

The application of IoT in these areas include improving production, marketing, service delivery, and safety. IoT also offers a strong means of managing various processes. It also affords users genuine transparency and engenders greater visibility which has immense improvement opportunities.

IoT offers a high level of control and this allows rapid action on opportunities such as obvious customer needs, product which does not conform, malfunctions in equipment, distribution network problems, and others.

For example, if a manufacturing facility is being run by an individual and the company makes shields for manufacturing equipment, whenever regulations are altered for the composition and function of the product, the stipulated appropriate requirements are automatically programmed in the production, and this alerts engineers about the approval of the alterations.

Government and Safety

IoT, when applied to the government and regulatory bodies ensures improved law enforcement, defense, city planning, and economic management. The Internet of Things technology addresses the current gaps and corrects many inherent flaws. It also expands the reach of these efforts. For instance, IoT can give city planners a clearer view of the impact of their design, and this gives governments a better idea of the local economy.

As an example, picture an individual who lives in a small city and who has heard about a recent increase in crime in her area. This news becomes worrying regarding coming home late at night. Area monitoring devices can be installed in the area to detect suspicious behavior, and then give the law enforcement agencies needed tips to investigate the crime.

Home and Office

IoT provides a personalized experience in daily activities from the home to the office. This flexibility improves ones’ overall satisfaction, ensures productivity, and betters our health and safety. For example, IoT can help us design our office space to ensure we enjoy optimum benefit from our work by employing tailoring our apps to or specified needs.

Health and Medicine

With IoT, we are assured that we are on the right path, towards our desired future. The field of medicine is one which exploits a highly integrated array of sophisticated medical devices and now, IoT can dramatically improve the state of medical research, devices, personalization of healthcare, and emergency care. The proper interfacing of these devices offers a better accuracy, more attention to detail, quicker reactions to emergency. This causes constant improvement generally while reducing the normal overhead of medical research and organizations.

Marketing and Content Delivery

IoT similarly functions to connect technology, analytics, and big data. The current technology collects specialized data and uses it to produce related metrics and patterns over a given period of time. This data, most times, lacks depth and accuracy. Internet of Things seeks to improve this occurrence by monitoring more behavioral patterns and analyzing them differently.

This helps to garner more information and detail and it delivers metrics and patterns which are more reliable. It also allows organizations to better examine and respond to the needs and preferences of customers. By employing Internet of Things, business productivity and strategy is further bettered, ultimately offering consumers a more rewarding experience.

Intelligent Product Enhancements

When one employs IoT in manufacturing, it offers a richer insight in real-time. This dramatically cuts down the time and resources devoted to manufacturing. IoT also reduces the risks concomitant with launching a new or modified products as it provides a more reliable and concise information. This is so because the information is garnered directly from market use and rather than concocted sources of varied credibility.

Dynamic Response to Market Demands

In order to supply the market, one must maintain a certain balance and this is impacted by a number of factors which include the state of the economy, sales performance, status of the supplier, the manufacturing facility status, and others. These associated expenses present unique challenges and the associated losses can adversely affect business and future decisions.

IoT effectively manages these areas by ensuring that crucial details are handled more at the system level rather than through human evaluations and decisions. An IoT system can assess and control the supply chain better, without considering whether demands are high or low.

Step 11: Challenges of IoT

Erratic Behavior

The plethora of deployed devices and their list of enabling technologies implies that their behavior in the field can be sometimes erratic. It will be beneficial to come up with a specific system which is well structured and with administrative control. However, there is no guarantee on how it will interact with others.

Similarity of Device

Many IoT devices are quite uniform in that they employ a similar connection technology and components. If a device suffers from an exposure to attack, others will most likely have the same issue.

Long Device Life

One of the numerous benefits IoT devices offers is longevity. This long life, unfortunately, also implies they may outlive their device support. When compared to traditional systems which typically have support after it is no longer in use. These devices do not possess the same security hardening of other systems because technology has undergone evolution over time.

No Upgrade Support

Many IoT devices do not inherently allow upgrades or modifications. The ones which do, offer upgrades which are grossly inconvenient and many owners either ignore or fail to notice them.

Transparency

Many IoT devices do not offer transparency as regards their functionality. This means users cannot monitor their processes, and are left to guess the behavior of their devices. They are offered no control over functions which are not wanted and data can be collected without notice. Furthermore, when the device is updated by the manufacturer, it brings about more unwanted functions.

No Alerts

Another aim of IoT is to provide incredible functions without being annoying. This then introduces the problem of user awareness. Users do not have the ability to monitor the devices and they do not know when something goes wrong. This can cause security breaches to persist over long periods without identification.

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