Data has always been important for us. It is from the data collected over hundreds and thousands of years that we has been able to trace our predecessors, how they lived, what they ate, how they communicated and so on. It is no wonder really that even today data is considered one of the most powerful tools in innovation. If you look around, there is possibility of data collection everywhere – from the refrigerator in your kitchen to the pantry where you store the grocery, from the light bulbs to the security systems. Data collected from each and every object within the household (and elsewhere) can help us understand consumption patterns, how to reduce waste, how to live more economically and so on.
This idea is not just a possibility but a reality of our times. This is known as Internet of Things ( IoT full form) where every ‘thing’ or physical device is connected to the Internet and hence can share data over a network. IoT can turn anything – from the smallest of toys to the largest of aeroplanes into connected devices simply with the help of an Internet-enabled chip.
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What is IoT?
Internet of Things (IoT) is the term that is used to refer when basic objects are fitted in with a chip and connected to the Internet. The term was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton however the implementation of the technology came much later. While the idea has been around for quite some time, it became a reality with the advancements in technology and easy availability of RFID tags. IoT became even more popular as broadband Internet expanded and wireless and cellular networking became easily accessible. Furthermore, the adoption of IPv6 has made IP addresses easily available for every device.
How The Internet Of Things Works?
Devices or ‘things’ are not expected to be connected to any network. In IoT, that’s exactly what happens. Ordinary, everything objects are fitted in with a chip that relays data to a network. It is in the network that information is then processed and analyzed for cognizance. Initially the idea of IoT was mooted for manufacturing industries and businesses so that more data could be collected on machine usage patterns, production cost, consumption etc. However, gradually emphasis was laid on connecting the most ordinary and everyday objects to the Internet. That’s how our homes and cities are becoming smarter today.
So what is an IoT connected device and which isn’t? While a laptop or smartphone with built-in network chips are not categorized as IoT devices but a wearable device such as a smart watch is an IoT device. In a home, the security cameras which are connected to a network, refrigerators which are IoT enabled are all examples of IoT.
While Internet of Things is slowly connecting our everyday objects, it finds most use in manufacturing industries.
Benefits of the Internet of Things
- Opens Possibilities for New Businesses – IoT can provide you with unimaginable data. For new businesses this opens numerous opportunities to reduce operational costs, improve business operations and streamline production and manufacturing.
- Gives Opportunity to Predict before Acting – As IoT collects data from numerous sources, businesses and individuals are now in a better position to predict before taking any decision. Moreover, businesses can now offer value-added services that are based on customer preferences, buying habits etc rather than on speculations and exceptations.
- Scales Up Monitoring – In a smart home setup, the scope of monitoring every object (turned device) is immense. Not only can you keep a constant check on your home from elsewhere but also study logs to better understand how every connected object is functioning. This advantage can be seen in the manufacturing industry as well.
- Adds to Your Wellness Quotient – There are several personal benefits of living in an IoT enabled eco-space. One such is the chance to improve your health or wellness with the help of smart watches. These devices can keep a check on how many calories you burnt, how much you walked, your heart rate etc. and guide you towards healthy living.
Pros and Cons of IoT
There are estimated 7 billion IoT devices in the world today and if estimation goes correctly, this figure will touch 20 billion very soon. The interesting thing is that most people do not realize that they are surrounded by IoTs – in the ATM machines, their wearable smart watches, thermostats and even traffic lights. This obviously means that there are several pros and cons of this technology that we are unaware of.
Pros of IoT
- IoT has paved the way for automation which brings with it uniformity. It has also improved quality of service and has brought transparency into the system.
- Machine-to-machine interaction has improved efficiency. It has also helped workers focus more on their jobs.
- IoT has helped businesses optimally use their resources and energies. There are now lesser breakdowns, bottlenecks as well as system damages.
- Communication has improved as devices are now inter-connected and there is better control upon how they are used.
Cons of IoT
- As more and more devices get connected to the network, concerns about privacy and security continue to take center stage. One of the downsides of IoT is the exposure of immense data that is being collected from so many devices.
- Since there is no international compatibility standard that guides the manufacturing of IoT devices, many devices though connected with each other fail to communicate as expected.
- Another disadvantage of IoT is the possibility of system failure. When that happens, the performance of a vast number of connected devices go haywire.
- More than a disadvantage, here we must address a threat that no one can ignore and that is the threat to livelihood. As more and more operations become automated, there is a declining need for labor.
- With the intervention of IoT, we are becoming more and more dependent of connected devices, automated services, and data and so on. Human-to-human interaction is becoming less important in all this.
There is no doubt that IoT is the future of our lives and we must learn to adopt the fast changing technology as quickly as we can. Things are likely to improve in the days to come and we must be ready for it.