Internet of Things: What It Is and How It Works

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The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to connecting various objects, like furniture, vehicles, electronic devices and appliances, etc. to a network. These things can operate and communicate by means of this network.

Pioneers in the field hope to revolutionise the “normal” way of human life in the near future by integrating IoT-based technology into the daily routine.

IoT is already being integrated into the normal as over 9 billion things are already connected to the Internet and the number is ever-increasing.

IoT will not only be helpful in creating smart homes and smart cities, but, it will also prove to be of paramount importance in gene therapy, agriculture, medicine, power generation, etc.

Can things become social?

Things really can become social and interconnected as the over 9 billion devices mentioned above have already proved.

However, the fact that such a revolution will come with a hefty price is nothing out of the blue or so unexpected given that electronic devices have always been a notch above other things in terms of price tags.

To bring things into perspective, the simplest of smartphone models costs about INR 10-20 thousand, an amount enough to purchase an almirah or a bathtub and get it installed too.

Therefore, it is apt to say that things can become social but only as long as their owners will it so. Based on the pace of technological advancements, only the well-off section of the society will be able to benefit from more exclusive traits of IoT in the beginning.

Foundation of the IoT:

The methods of building IoT can basically be boiled down to two ways. The first one being creating a whole new internetwork dedicated solely to the interconnection of things.

Whereas, the second method is to continuously make the current Internet more expansive to incorporate all that additional information, which the IoT-based things will create and exchange, by adding more servers, cloud computing, big data servers, etc.

The main components or must-have features that will form the foundational structure of the Internet of Things are as follows:

  • Low power consumption:

Since a lot of “things” owned by a single person will be IoT-based, having low battery life will be impractical and counterproductive. So, this feature is a must-have feature in the embedded systems.

  • Cloud Computing:

A properly functioning IoT device will generate and analyse huge quantities of data. Therefore, cloud computing is also a very important feature for the practicality of the Internet of Things.

  • Big Data:

IoT-based things need to be aware of themselves and their surroundings; this requires the use of a large number of embedded sensors. These sensors, coupled with the sheer number of IoT-based things, will trigger a massive flux of big data.

  • Replacement for IP Address identification:

As we can see, two of the abovementioned three main features of IoT require an Internet connection.

So, all IoT-based things need to be connected to the Internet. The issue here is that IP addresses are limited.

This will require experts to come up with a new identification system that can deal with the huge number of new devices.

Early estimates state that, by the time IoT is deeply integrated into the society, it will incorporate millions of applications, billions of smart systems and trillions of sensors.

Smart Homes, Smart Cities and IoT:

The IoT is much more than the refrigerator in your kitchen sending your smartphone notifications about the milk that has gone bad or the eggs that are about to run out.

Let us take a step back to better understand the scope and scale of IoT. Back in 2015-16, there were 9-10 billion internetworked things in operation. By the time 2020 approached, this number rocketed up to 50 billion.

Though the IoT-based things have grown manifold in the past few years, we need to understand their significance to be able to make the best out of them.

Firstly, what will these devices be — fridges, toasters, frying pans, etc. — why not! However, the interconnectivity will go way beyond such a simplistic approach.

Take your car keys for instance. It will no longer be a key in the traditional sense, but a device that will connect with the security hub, establish your identity and verify whether you are authorised to access the car or not.

Similarly, the car itself will be connected to the IoT. So, no matter who is driving, you will always know whether it needs a software update, how fast it is travelling, its fuel reserves and even its location.

Furthermore, the roads will also be IoT-enabled. So, they will be able to analyse the number of vehicles travelling along the, which route is the most efficient one to reach your destination, where roads are congested or temporarily unusable, etc.

The same goes for your home as you can remotely monitor it to make sure whether the stove and the iron are off, open the garage doors before reaching the driveway, etc.

As these examples might have given you the insight, many of these features of the IoT have already been widely incorporated into the society, like the GPS, smart car and smart alarm.

But, the IoT still has a lot of potential and much to contribute to the society. Therefore, we just have to strap in and observe it change our lives and the world around us.

Article Highlights:

  • IoT is massively scalable
  • IP-based addressing is obsolete for IoT-based things
  • Less power consumption through hibernation mode when not in use
  • Unimportant things will turn off periodically to further save battery
  • Impermanent connection, things access the internetwork only when necessary

Things contact each other only when necessary

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