Since the birth of social media more and more people have been using devices like the cellphone, laptops, wearables, etc., these devices have made people more and more connected and made communication faster and cheaper. But companies are not stopping with only people being connected to each other. They are also making devices to connected to one another, it's exciting and at the same time terrifying. It's exciting because we can monitor what that device is seeing but it's terrifying at the same time because of the thought that maybe there are also people (other than you) who are getting this information. I won't talk about these terrifying things on this blog but I will focus on what really is the Internet of Things (IoT). Let's get started!
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things or "IoT" represents the network of physical objects or "things"; embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. These devices or "things" range from ordinary household objects such as a Smart TV to sophisticated industrial objects like the Aeroplane. Combining these connected devices with automated systems makes it possible to "gather data/information, analyze it and create an action" to help someone with a particular task or learn from a process with ease. Today, with more than 11 billion connected IoT devices, businesses are motivated by the concept of IoT and the prospects of increasing their revenue, reducing operating costs, and improving work efficiencies. Companies deployments also provide the data and insights necessary to streamline their workflows, visualize usage models, automate methods, meet compliance obligations, and compete more efficiently in a changing business environment. Some experts expect that IoT devices will grow to 12 billion by 2022 and 22 billion by 2025.
The history of the Internet of Things can be seen with the invention of the first Internet called "ARPANET" or Advance Research Projects Agency Network, an arm of the United States Defense Department. The Research Engineers made the first 4 nodes to see if they can communicate even though they are not in the exact location. These 4 nodes are considered one of the first 4 for the Internet of Things concept. Not before long, more and more people from different communities like Universities, Companies, and even Hackers contribute to the development of this newly invented technology. During the 1980s, a Coca-Cola Vending Machine at the Carnegie Mellon University acted as the first ARPANET-connected appliance. It was able to report its inventory whether newly loaded drinks were cold or not. Also, scientists and engineers during these times were making academic venues to introduce the concept of IoT. Such computer scientists are Mark Weisner, Reza Raiji, Bill Joy, Peter T. Lewis, to name a few, and for that, we are very thankful for their hard work to introduce such a concept.
After 20 years of research during the 1990s, the ARPANET was finally defected and made commercially available for public use, changed the name, and called it "Internet." Not before long, during the year 1999, one of the British technology pioneers named "Kevin Ashton." was one of the first to introduced the term "Internet of Things" to the public. He became famous because only "People" are known to connect to the Internet during those times. Still, only a few people like him believed that devices should have a system on the Internet to report their inventory or sensed data in real-time. Cisco Systems estimated that the IoT era started during 2008 or 2009, with the things/people ratio growing from 0.08 in 2003 to 1.84 in 2010 and defining the Internet of Things as "Simply the point in time when more 'things or devices' were connected to the internet than people".
How does the IoT work?
The essential elements of the IoT are devices that collect sensory data. These devices have an IP address; they at first were widely used in complexity, from autonomous vehicles that haul products around factory floors to simple sensors that monitor the temperature in buildings. They also include personal devices like fitness trackers that monitor the number of steps individuals take each day. To make that data useful, it needs to be collected, processed, filtered, and analyzed, each of which can be handled in various ways.
Collecting the data is done by transmitting it from the devices to a gathering point, gateway, and even a server. Moving the data can be done wirelessly using a range of technologies or on a wired network. The data can be sent over the Internet to a data center. Cloud storage and computing power or the transfer can be staged, with intermediary devices aggregating the data before sending it along.
Processing the data can occur in data centers or clouds, but sometimes that's not an option. In critical devices such as shutoffs in industrial settings, the delay of sending data from the device to a remote data center is too significant. The round-trip time for transmitting data, processing it, analyzing it, and returning instructions (close that valve before the pipes burst) can take too long. In such cases, edge computing can come into play. An intelligent edge device can aggregate data, analyze it, and fashion responses if necessary, all within relatively close physical distance, reducing delay. Edge devices also have upstream connectivity for sending data to be further processed and stored.
Examples of IoT devices
Essentially, anything capable of gathering some information about the physical world and sending it back home can participate in the IoT ecosystem. Smart home appliances, RFID tags, and industrial sensors are a few examples. These sensors can monitor a range of factors, including temperature and pressure in industrial systems, the status of critical parts in machinery, patient vital signs, and use of water and electricity, among many, many other possibilities.
Entire factory robots can also be considered IoT devices, as can autonomous vehicles that move products around industrial settings and warehouses.
Other examples include fitness wearables and home security systems. More generic devices, like the Raspberry Pi or Arduino, let you build your own IoT endpoints. Even though you might think of your smartphone as a pocket-sized computer, it may well also be beaming data about your location and behavior to back-end services in very IoT-like ways.
Communication Standards and Protocols
When IoT gadgets talk to other devices, they can use various communications standards and protocols, many tailored to devices with limited processing capabilities or not much electrical power. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee, for instance — but many more are specialized for the world of IoT. LoRa, for example, is a wireless protocol for low-power, long-distance communication; this is perfect for devices since previous protocols are very high-powered, and it cannot stay in power for more than a week or even a day. But with LoRa, a device can remain on for years with only batteries powering up the device. You can see our other blog that mainly focuses on the technology and history behind LoRa.
Edge Computing and the Cloud
For many IoT systems, there's a lot of data coming in, which has given rise to a new technology category, 'Edge Computing', consisting of appliances placed relatively close to IoT devices, fielding the flow of data from them. These machines process that data and send only relevant material back to a more centralized system for analysis. For instance, imagine a network of dozens of IoT security cameras. Instead of bombarding the building's security operations center (SoC) with simultaneous live-streams, edge-computing systems can analyze the incoming video and only alert the SoC when one of the cameras detects movement.
And where does that data go once it’s been processed? Well, it might go to your centralized data center, but more often than not it will end up in the cloud.
The elastic nature of cloud computing is great for IoT scenarios where data might come in intermittently. And many of the big cloud heavy hitters — including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon — have IoT offerings. Still, even nowadays, even the Open-Source Communities have been heavily involved in a lot of development, such as Seeed Studio, which released a new product line that focuses on LoRa technology, such as the SenseCap. The SenseCap product line mainly focuses on Agriculture Technology, Smart Weather Stations, and Even Smart buildings/factories. You might want to look into these new technologies since they are being sold at a much lower price than big-known companies.
Business, Consumers, Homes, and Cities
Businesses and Consumers are already on the move on using IoT devices; many companies use the concept mainly because it can make their operations more efficient and even save more energy. They can also track assets with much more efficiency and security. Weather monitoring is also essential for business, mainly in the areas of Construction and Agriculture. Factories and warehouses are also integrating using IoT. Some warehouses in China and Europe use "robots" to collect products without the help of humans and can even charge themselves automatically.
The primary device they use for consumers is handheld cellular phones and wearable devices to track and monitor fitness and health. Some medical patients also use heart monitoring wearables to send real-time data to their doctors and even call the ambulance automatically if something happened to them; these devices can help the elderly where they live alone.
Homes are also starting to integrate into Smart Home; these intelligent homes can provide real-time climate and lighting control and even security services where the camera will notify you when they detect something is moving.
Some cities are also becoming Smart Cities where the local officers use IoT to manage traffic, public transportation, utilities, weather or environmental monitoring, and more.
IoT will have a massive role in the incoming years; for me, this is an excellent opportunity to prevent and solve huge problems nowadays. More development needs to be done, even so in this world, anything is evolving, even technology. Right now, one problem that I want to mention in the world of IoT is privacy. IoT can help many businesses and consumers, but the real question is, how about security? In recent years, genius programmers warn companies and consumers that the current technology is not secure. The data that is being collected is being stolen and resold to other third-party marketers. This is so true in so many ways, but many companies and even the community are helping develop a new kind of protocol that is much more secure and more decentralized, like the LoRa. If development continues with these kinds of technology, security will become much more confident in the coming future. Also, cities and Companies will become more efficient and have much lower operating costs, which can help them grow, especially the small companies with a limited budget. Consumers can also benefit from energy costs and communication costs; right now, numerous countries use a modern protocol like LoRa, replacing the old 2G and 3G networks, which are being used in communication. I also believe that many farmers will use these devices to make their farm more efficient, it's better to have accurate data than relying on experience, but it's better if you combine both. In the future, more devices will be integrated into the Internet and, we should join and participate in the revolution. If we don't want these data to be controlled by the big corporation, we need to help and invent a new way to be separated from their shadow.