What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

It's Simple!

IoT is about getting ordinary objects connected to the internet so that we can interact with them remotely.

What is IoT and why should we care?

It is well known that IoT is one of those technologies that are here to change the world, just as once the internet appeared and changed everything, from the way we work to how we communicate with our friends. Nowadays, we can barely imagine a life without internet. But, when referring to IoT, things can get very confusing. What is it really about? Is it as powerful as it seems?

Working at an IoT company, we get these questions asked frequently, and after explaining it over and over, we think we’ve managed to get a good answer. Here’s what we’ve got, hope it helps.

What does "IoT" mean?

First of all, IoT stands for “Internet of Things”.

If you get through Google and try to find a definition maybe you could find some pretty technical ones, such as: “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines…” or “the network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies…” But these definitions can say a lot or nothing at the same time.

Real IoT is about connecting everything to the internet (yes, everything), from your coffeemaker to get your coffee ready when you wake up, your home’s refrigerator to automatically place an order when the last can is over, or even the street-lights on your way to work, that could be controlled to optimize energy consumption.

In other words, IoT is about getting ordinary objects connected to the internet so that we can interact with them remotely. Communication can be both ways: we can receive information from objects, and we can also tell them what to do.

Why do things need to be connected?

At this point, you might think that IoT sounds like a good idea, but still, not more than a whim. Just because something can be connected to the Internet, it doesn’t mean it should be. The key is to figure out what objects provide real value when they are connected.

There are countless cases in which IoT not only generates valuable information, but also make things easier, faster, and cheaper.

Consider a factory floor where dozens of expensive equipment are working 24 hours, almost every day per week. If one of these machines breaks down, the company will not only incur in repairing expenses and realize the downtime period, but also will jeopardize the entire value chain.

This problem could be avoided with predictive maintenance practices, but how could we know that the maintenance is applied at the right time?

It is not easy to determine maintenance frequency, neither too high that leads to high costs, nor too low to be ineffective; the good news is that IoT makes that possible.

Sensors could be installed on the equipment to monitor key variables in real-time, send the captured data through the internet, and visualize the patterns in a web-based software platform. This outcome, the patterns, will help the company’s operations managers to plan maintenance accurately. Such as this, there are many use cases that could be found in houses, streets, services, factories, and cities.

USE CASES

IoT cases are endless, for a better understanding we can classify them into three types:

Monitoring

Collecting data from "dumb" objects

Monitoring

Collecting data from "dumb" objects

Situations in which IoT is used to connect objects to the internet with the mere purpose of gaining data from them. This is the easiest way of implementing IoT and usually is the first step for greater projects.

These kinds of solutions are powered by sensors that capture information and send it to the internet. There are multiple sensors for diverse variables: air quality sensors, temperature sensors, motion sensors, light sensors, GPS, and – you name it – sensors. The simple act of monitoring this information allows users to make data-driven decisions.

Monitoring use cases include asset tracking, smart grid, and predictive maintenance solutions, among others.

Automation

Two-way data

Situations where we receive data from objects and immediately act on it.

Consider a field were farmers install temperature and moisture sensors to understand their crops’ growing conditions, but in addition to installing sensors, farmers also connect the irrigation system to the IoT architecture. Not only the crops are going to be watered at their optimal levels, but this will also happen automatically!

Other use cases could be smart traffic lights control or factory automation.

New Business Streams

Next generation models

The Internet of Things will power innovation and the creation of new business models. Think about these companies, they are possible thanks to the internet revolution.

In the same way, many companies will disrupt diverse industries with the correct application of IoT.

BEFORE YOU GO!

IoT has the potential to transform the way we interact with things. Now comes the time to think about how you are going to get the best out of it!