You may have heard the term IoT before, and many confuse the term with something else. So, what exactly is IoT?; How does it work? What is it used for?; Why is it useful?; and How will it affect the future? I will do my best to answer these and a few more questions about IoT, so stay tuned 😉.
What is IoT?
IoT stands for internet of things and as suggested by the name, it refers to the “inter-net” or inter-connection between things, devices, machines, etc. When I think of the term internet, I think of a spider web supported by a number of objects. Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Okay let me show you…
In the image above, notice that the spider web is supported by at least three, different branches. These are the “objects” that I mentioned. The spider web would technically not exist if it had no branches or object to support it. Therefore IoT without the “things” is simply not IoT. I used the comparison to help you understand exactly how Internet of Things function. So, to get to the point, IoT is the communication between devices, without human involvement, in order to complete a task and make the user’s life easier. But, as all things, it is not as simple as it sounds. A lot goes on behind the scenes for this to happen. So, let me take you on a learning journey.
How does it work?
Remember when I said and I quote: “The spider web would technically not exist if it had no branches or objects to support it.”? Well think about it, a spider works endlessly for hours building its web, but it does not use air for its support, right? Now, there are individuals who destroy the hard work of the poor creature by removing the connection between the support object and the web (me when I was a kid, I’m sorry Mrs. Spider 😔). And what happens when this spider web does not have a support, it collapses and bye bye spider web! “But what does all of this have to do with the Internet of Things?!”, you may ask yourself. Give me a second, I’m getting there. Some already have an idea of where I am going with this. That means that I am doing a great job at explaining the structure of IoT. If you do not have any idea of what I am talking about, I am about to reveal the big secret. Internet of things is able to function because of the constant communication between the devices involved.
As you can notice, on my above attempt of creating a web of communication, there are a number of devices connected to a network. The communication is constant as long as they are all connected to the internet. And this is where the concept of “internet of things” comes to be applied. The goal of IoT is to one day have everything (literally) connected to the internet. That way, human life can become much easier. This is done through a series of adjustments and overall creation of machines that can sensor external conditions and take a decision based on the information. Internet of thing allows an opening of possibilities for the creation of humans’ crazy ideas.
I consider myself a very creative person. Growing up, I disarmed a number of toys, electronic devices, tools, you name it. I was very curious, which helped to visualize things from different perspectives; opening doors of imagination. I was always inspired by these crazy ideas and I hope to one day apply everything I know towards manifesting an idea of my own. But going to the topic, let us take a look at a few examples in which Internet of Things manifests itself.
- The self driving car that everyone is talking about; the Tesla.
I don’t think there is a better example than the Tesla. The Tesla has the ability to connect to the internet and provide GPS service for itself in order to drive itself. Crazy right! Decades ago, this was only a thought and nothing more. Then, a number of years of endless research and hard work, brought humanity to the big accomplishment. Oh but that is not it, the Tesla also has Bluetooth connection for music input, a built in garage remote that opens the user’s garage door, and a countless amount of things. Awesome right!
2. Home security systems
This is very straight forward and amazing if you think about. How awesome is it that you live in a house with high security and you don’t even have to worry about things like forgetting to lock your door when you leave the house. No more keys, only authentications like finger prints or eye detector. No more having to be paranoid about someone breaking into your property because there are alarm systems and smart devices that detect unusual movement. In house security IoT, a number of smart devices and machines work together to ensure danger to the user is immensely reduced.
3. Printer connected to the internet
This may be a very classic one to you, but it is very import to keep in mind because it helps to track how IoT has increasingly become more demanded. Before, printers had to be connected directly to the computer in order to extract the document to be printed. Now, the printer doesn’t even have to be near the computer, It i will do its job just fine as long as they are somehow connected (either through Bluetooth or WiFi).
Downside of IoT
Up to this point, you may have this idea that IoT is this awesome thing that will make the future better and there is nothing wrong with it. Well… that is partially true. While it does make our lives overall better, there are a few scary thought that cross my mind as I think of the Internet of things which I would like to share.
First of all, when we interact with the internet, our personal information is being extracted as data to make decisions and provide an output based on artificial intelligence and suggestions. Now, where and who is storing our data? What is being done with our information? Has that ever crossed your mind? I would like to think that our information is going to be safe, but unfortunately, there are always possibilities of malicious hackers taking possession of it for their own needs. Yes, there are high security measures, but as technology grows and digital security becomes better, so does digital breaching or hacking.
Therefore, before you think of investing into IoT devices take a look a few security measures suggested online.
In conclusion, Internet of things is here to stay and change our lives. It may not be affordable at the moment but hopefully in the near future, we can establish a society that works and evolves around the internet. It makes our lives easier; as long as the right measures are being taken.
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All images except for the ones with my name embedded on them are not owned by me. So credits to the creators.