The Internet of Things: An Overview

The Internet of Things, also known as IoT, is on the brink of revolutionizing technology and business. The internet has been around for a while now, since the 1990s, and it encompasses the interconnection of computer networks.

Everything on the internet is created by, for and about people, it allows us to share information, as packets of digital data, at record speeds. The new internet, the Internet of Things, however, isn’t just connecting people with information, it’s connecting objects with people and also each other..   

 What Is The Internet Of Things? 

 The Internet of Things is the ultimate connection of every object on earth. These objects are able to sense, communicate, touch and control. What brings them all together and connects them, however, is their ability to communicate and collaborate with each other. As human beings, we do this all the time using our five senses. Now it is possible for things to do the same and this is how the Internet of Things is turning ordinary objects into smart objects. 

 In the digital world it, is expected for everything to communicate, but it is only now that this is being translated into the physical world. By the addition of embedded chips, hardware allows digital items to connect to physical objects. The network of physical objects means that everything will be connected to the internet, or at the very least communicating with the things around us. The Internet of Things uses a common language for devices and apps, integrates data and applies analytics to produce industry-specific needs. Data is becoming the universal language of things. It is then the analysis of this data that turns it into something extremely valuable.  

 What Are Some Examples Of The Internet Of Things? 

The Internet of Things is drastically changing the world in which we live. It is influencing how we drive and how we make purchases. Many of the objects that are becoming connected are things we use every day. Our smartphones are the obvious example; they can sense where we are and what we’re saying; they have eyes to see their surroundings and they can communicate on wireless networks. Meanwhile, wearable watches can track our steps, communicate via wireless networks and analyse our fitness levels. 

 On a bigger scale, IoT objects can also let us find parking spaces by sensing availability and communicating with apps. In fact, many things that were invented before the Internet of Things can still be connected. The technology is cheap and readily available and can turn almost any object into a smart one.  

 What Is The Potential Of The Internet Of Things? 

 The potential for the Internet of Things is enormous. Business Insider Intelligence reports that there will be more than 55 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from about 9 billion in 2017. With a current world population of around 7.6 billion, this means there are already more connected smart-objects than there are people on the planet.  

The Internet of Things is seeing huge economic growth in utility, automotive, electronic and healthcare industries amongst many others. Big businesses can see the potential and are making huge investments. There are obvious big players in the IoT market such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon, however, there are opportunities for businesses of all sizes.  In fact, according to a recent Forbes Insights survey of 700 executives, 60% of enterprises are, with the help of their IoT initiatives, expanding or transforming with new lines of business.  

 IoT offers businesses the opportunity to gather more data and gain insight into productivity and efficiency, and it gives them invaluable insight into their customers and their behaviours. With all this potential for business growth, Forbes predicts the IoT market to reach $267 billion By 2020.  

What Are The Challenges Of The Internet Of Things? 

Although it may seem inevitable that the Internet of Things will revolutionize the way we live our lives, it is going to face significant challenges: 

 Our human nature to resist change – years often pass from the invention of a new technology to its widespread adoption, much of the technology we take for granted today comes from 50 years ago. We need to try to overcome the notion that everything is fine just as it is if we are going to benefit from the many opportunities the Internet of Things can offer.  

  • The complexity of technology – at the moment the technology is too complicated for widespread adoption. It needs to be understood and integrated to be used efficiently. The most profound technologies are those that disappear and become indistinguishable from everyday life. This is the ultimate aim of the Internet of Things. 
  • Security and privacy – we are generally happy to share aggregate data as long as personal information remains private. As with internet banking, which most of us now trust, the Internet of Things needs to offer us robust technologies and security policies.  
  • Job redundancy – jobs we are currently doing may well be replaced by devices and interconnected systems. This is a daunting prospect, but we will always need to create new things, improve them and build interpersonal relationships. This is again about taking a leap of faith about the potential of change.  
  • Cost barrier for consumers – the cost is still pretty high for consumers to adopt smart homes and to incorporate their objects into entirely connected lives. However, as prices reduce we will no doubt see an uplift in consumer uptake.   

No doubt there will be other challenges that we haven’t foreseen as yet. However, if the Internet of Things has the promised potential to boost our quality of life to the extent of saving lives, then they are risks that may well be worth taking. Things that sense the world around them, collect data, share and analyse have the potential to build a vast amount of knowledge. It is this knowledge that, used in the right way, could conceivably create the beginning of a new digital era.  


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