With data growing faster than ever before, the future of technology is even more interesting than what is happening now. Technology is always evolving, with new software constantly emerging to solve problems and inefficiencies that companies may not even be aware of yet. Technology advancements have improved efficiency levels significantly since the 1970s. The Internet is a digital fabric that is woven into the lives of all of us in one way or another.
The Internet of Things or IoT is influencing our lifestyle from the way we react to the way we behave. IoT or Internet of Things as it is most popularly known is one of the greatest phenomena of this century.
“If you think that the internet has changed your life, think again. The IoT is about to change it all over again!”
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is a platform where we connect everyday things embedded with electronics, software, and sensors to the internet enabling them to collect and exchange data. The IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data. This can mean everything from common household objects like refrigerators and lightbulbs to business assets like shipping labels and medical devices, to unprecedented wearables, smart devices, and even smart cities that only exist because of IoT.
An IoT ecosystem consists of web-enabled smart devices that use embedded systems, such as processors, sensors and communication hardware, to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments. IoT devices share the sensor data they collect by connecting to an IoT gateway or other edge device where data is either sent to the cloud to be analyzed or analyzed locally.
IoT can also make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to aid in making data collecting processes easier and more dynamic.
Why do we need the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is expanding the interdependence of humans to interact, contribute and collaborate with things around us. The internet of things helps people live and work smarter, as well as gain complete control over their lives.
The Internet of Things offers numerous benefits to organizations. Most modern enterprises are already leveraging IoT to automate and simplify many of their daily tasks. Connected devices are being integrated into existing and evolving business processes. It can help organizations shift from the traditional way of selling hardware or software to selling all-inclusive solutions – products equipped with sensors and wireless communications to generate valuable data.
There are many advantages of having things connected to each other. Here are a few of the benefits:
- More data leads to better decisions:
A greater flow of information means that the company behind the device can analyze large trends in the data to improve the features of the device. Data plays an important role in the decision-making process of any organization.
- Minimizing human effort:
Information is traversed between devices so that processes can be automated, without the need for human intervention. By reducing the number of people involved in a business process, several advantages arise, including improved accuracy and up-time.
- Ability to track and monitor things:
In a modern world, analytics and logistics are becoming more and more important as technology develops. Understanding why a problem has occurred or identifying areas of improvement is getting much easier because of it.
- Development of AI through IoT:
While IoT enables connecting two or more sensors, platforms, objects or networks to enable data transmission for several applications, AI offers the capability of analyzing the most critical information easily – providing valuable insights and making highly informed decisions.
- Efficient resource utilization:
Imagine having a smart system that interacts with everything backed with enough computational power, enough understanding of how things work, there might be a petty usage of the resources! The resources in terms could be of monetary, natural, inputs taken by the device and so far.
- Better quality of life:
In the end, all the benefits lead to an increased quality of life. Having your devices track and order things for you, turn light switches off for you, coordinate and manage important tasks that you may not have the time to do yourself certainly takes away a lot of stress.
Features of the IoT
Any technology that is available today has not reached its hundred-percent capabilities. It always has that gap to go. The Internet of Things is one of the major technologies in the world today that can help any other technology reach their true and complete potential.
Now there are three main aspects to the Internet of Things as to how it works:
The first stage of connect is Device Virtualization. With everything going on in IoT devices and hardware, with sensors and other electronics and connected hardware and control systems there needs to be a connection between the various devices and the IoT platform.
After connecting the IoT devices, it needs a high speed messaging between the devices and cloud to enable reliable, secure and bi-directional communication. We can leverage various protocols of internet connectivity layers in order to maximize efficiency and establish generic connectivity across IoT ecosystems and Industry.
The last stage is the Endpoint Management. If you do not actually identify the device from which data is being received and how the data has to be processed, then it becomes a failure of the system. Endpoint Management assists you in managing the devices, endpoint identity, the metadata, and the overall lifecycle involved.
Data is the glue of the Internet of Things, the first step towards action and intelligence. The first vital thing to do for analysis is the Stream Processing. Real time analysis of the incoming and outgoing data must be done with respect to different aggregations, filtering, correlations, processing and so forth. The data needs to be collected and analysed to build a business intelligence solution.
This is raw data that is being streamed from all the components. We need to identify the contextually important information that is going to be taken forward. This is what the Data Enrichment process does.
In order to get the best of it, we need to read the analog signal, convert it in such a way that we can derive meaningful insights out of it. To make a use case successful we need to choose the proper sensing paradigm.
The next being the Event Store. Any information that we want can be queried and visualized from the massive amount of data present on the cloud platform. If we have a good insight into data gathered from all these things, then we call our system a smart system.
In order to improvise the system, we need to integrate it with various models to enhance user experience. The first stage being Enterprise Connectivity. Any enterprise service (Amazon, Flipkart,etc) that provides us a service, if we could connect to them through this platform, then the overall process gets a boost.
For the smooth connection, we have Rest APIs. Once this the Rest API gets integrated to the cloud application and the IoT, the connection is made more efficient and well organized.
The third aspect is the Command and Control. In Spite of building an extraordinary environment, if we cannot control and command the system as per our requirement then the system in itself is in vain.
The Finest Applications Of the IoT
IoT applications promise to bring immense value into our lives. A glimpse on a few of the surprising practical applications of the IoT:
The needs of people are the most influential factors in the market. Wearable technology is a hallmark of IoT applications and probably is one of the earliest industries to have deployed the IoT at its service. Wearable devices are now at the heart of every discussion related to the IoT.
The applications for wearable devices vary widely and we’re no doubt just beginning to explore the possibilities. Perhaps one common purpose, regardless of the specific application, is that they sense, store, interpret, and communicate information about the wearer’s body or surroundings.
Wearable smart devices developed with the Internet of Things technology mostly aim at a healthy life. Wearable technology owes its high-tech designs to the Internet of Things technology.
Example: Glucose Monitoring Device
The device is developed to aid people suffering from diabetes. It detects glucose levels in the body, using a tiny electrode called glucose sensor placed under the skin and relays the information via Radio Frequency to a monitoring device. The device monitors the glucose level in the user’s blood and is connected to an insulin pump with an automated suspension of insulin infusion.
Through this system, healthcare personnel and caregivers can easily monitor the patients at any time via a web-browser or an application on their smart-phones
- Smart Home Applications:
Smart home systems have achieved a great popularity in the last decades as they increase the comfort and quality of life. We explore the concept of smart home with the integration of IoT services and cloud computing to it, by embedding intelligence into sensors and actuators, networking of smart things with increasing computational power, storage space and improving data exchange efficiency.
The best example of this is Jarvis, the AI home automation employed by Mark Zuckerberg. These days, there is a vast range of devices powered by IoT. The devices include thermostats, refrigerators, security systems and even dryers and kettles.
Most smart IoT home automation devices allow you to control them via an app or even via voice commands.
Example: Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Conventional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are inherently dumb devices. Their alarms might be loud, but if no one’s home to hear them, how good do they accomplish?
A smart smoke detector will sound a local alarm as well, but it will also send an alert to your smartphone—and to anyone else you authorize as a contact—if danger is detected.A smart battery that can make your existing smoke detector more intelligent.
- Smart Cities:
Smart cities use IoT devices such as connected sensors, lights, and meters to collect and analyze data. The cities then use this data to improve infrastructure, public utilities and services, and more. Communities can improve energy distribution, streamline trash collection, decrease traffic congestion, and even improve air quality with help from the IoT.
Developers can use IoT to analyze the often-complex factors of town planning specific to each city. The use of IoT applications can aid in areas like water management, waste control, and emergencies.
IoT-enabled smart city use cases span multiple areas: from contributing to a healthier environment and improving traffic to enhancing public safety and optimizing street lighting.
Example: Smart Parking
Smart parking development implies an IoT-based system that sends data about free and occupied parking places via web/mobile applications.The IoT-device, including sensors and microcontrollers, is located in each parking place. The user receives a live update about the availability of all parking places and chooses the best one.
A parking loT management system can be a one-stop-shop that unites drivers, law reinforcement organs, parking facility managers, and other stakeholders into a connected network.
- Health Care:
IoT-enabled devices have made remote monitoring in the healthcare sector possible, unleashing the potential to keep patients safe and healthy, and empowering physicians to deliver superlative care. The Internet of Things (IoT) has opened up a world of possibilities in medicine.
IoT with its set of benefits such as enabling real-time monitoring, providing a more mature and effective solution to collect patient data, and tracking the activities of patients and staff meet the Healthcare requirements.
IoT medical device integration includes a range of intelligent connected devices, which can be used to monitor the health of patients and raise the alarm before the onset of any disease. The bottom line of IoT in healthcare is to assure healthier patients, empowered healthcare providers, and cost-saving for both.
Example: Ingestible Sensors
An ingestible sensor uses genetically engineered bacteria to detect and diagnose gastrointestinal problems. Ingestible sensors are genuinely a modern-science marvel. These are pill-sized sensors which monitor the medication in our body and warn us if it detects any irregularities in our bodies.
When it comes into contact with, say, markers associated with stomach bleeds, the bacteria glow. That light emission is picked up by the electronic chip, converted into a wireless signal, and transmitted to a smartphone application.
In IoT-based smart farming, a system is built for monitoring the crop field with the help of sensors (light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, etc.) and automating the irrigation system. The farmers can monitor the field conditions from anywhere.
IoT-based smart farming is highly efficient and feasible compared with the conventional approach. IoT-based smart farming can provide great benefits including more efficient water usage, or optimization of inputs and treatments. It keeps various factors like humidity, temperature, soil etc. under check and gives a crystal clear real-time observation.
Smart Farming majorly depends on IoT thus eliminating the need for physical work of farmers and growers and thus increasing productivity in every possible manner.
Example: Smart Greenhouse
A greenhouse farming technique enhances the yield of crops by controlling environmental parameters. To make the greenhouses smart, IoT enables weather stations to automatically adjust the climate conditions according to a particular set of instructions.
A greenhouse with embedded devices not only makes it easier to be monitored but also, enables us to control the climate inside it. Sensors measure different parameters according to the plant requirement and send it to the cloud. It, then, processes the data and applies a control action.
The adoption of IoT in Greenhouses has eliminated human intervention, thus making the entire process cost-effective and increasing the accuracy simultaneously.
The Future, Scope and Obstacles Of the IoT
We are entering a new era of computing technology i.e. the Internet of Things. With the advancement of the IoT, life is getting simpler and easier in all aspects. The growing potential of the industry is enormous. And the path forward is becoming clearer every day. It‘s time that we start building IOT systems, and provide value to our customers.
IoT requires standardized approaches for architecture, identification schemes, protocols and frequencies, each one targeted for a particular and specific use. The industry will look completely different than it does today with a wider scope in areas like:
- Voice-based customer service
- Blockchain-based adoptions
- Smart cities
- Artificial Intelligence and Big data
- Health Care
- Energy management and many more…
The Internet of Things has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and boost their businesses. But there are still many challenges to widespread IoT adoption and to a secure, functioning global device network. Overcoming them will be the key to creating true lasting productivity and prosperity through these dynamic technologies.
A few of the current challenges limiting the adoption of IoT:
Data privacy and security remains a potential concern for the IoT. When it comes to security, lapses could be from both the company and consumer side, so it is essential for each party to take necessary measures to improve security because IoT devices potentially harvest enormous amounts of data, security breaches could be especially dangerous.
It should be a collaborative effort between companies and customers to plan and implement collaborative data security policies for successful IoT implementation.
Since the IoT requires an enormous number of devices to be interconnected, the devices should be made compatible with each other. Interconnectivity between devices enables increased productivity at home or within industrial settings. This needs special hardware and software design.
Continued compatibility for IoT devices also depends upon users keeping their devices updated and patched, which could be pretty difficult. This comes at a price, as the popularity increases and the number of devices and networks expands, the lack of compatibility between them becomes an issue.
The current state of standardization is clearly a hurdle. And while part of the problem is that there are no universally agreed-upon standards. Also, there are so many IoT standards being developed that it is difficult for a single standard to gain widespread acceptance.
This may lead to poorly designed and developed IoT devices which, in turn, could cause security and other major issues. At least in the future strong standards and best practices should be followed to develop IoT devices.
Connectivity is a bigger challenge to the IoT than you might expect. It is the part of networking challenges, as the Internet is still not available everywhere at the same speed. As the size of the IoT market grows exponentially, some experts are concerned that bandwidth-intensive IoT applications may soon struggle for space on the IoT’s current server-client model.
The networks have to be well-connected through different technologies to facilitate chief quality communication. But the number of connected devices is growing at a much higher rate than the network coverage, which creates monitoring and tracking problems.
- Consumer Expectations:
With strong competition in the IoT market, customers whose expectations aren’t met won’t hesitate to go elsewhere. Businesses looking to enter this competitive and innovative sector should be prepared for a market that never sits still and customers who always want a smoother and more advanced experience.
It is equally important for consumers to acknowledge how things work technically, but the lack of basic awareness can create a fear of security and cost, which could lead to the slow adoption of technology.
In the final analysis and despite the challenges and bottlenecks of the IoT in its current state, it still has many benefits in today’s business world. The size of the Internet of Things is definitely going to increase massively in the future.
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