Internet drastically changed the way we live. Information is now within reach, people are connected, and life is generally improved. It fostered the development of a new era. Now, it seems like we’re on our way to another drastic change.

Ever since its conception, the Internet was developed with connecting the people in mind. Now, a different sort of connection is forming. These are connections involving things — the Internet of Things (IoT)  so to speak.

What is IoT?

Devices like our phones and smart watches possess an array of sensors which allow them to sense their surroundings. They can measure variables like location, proximity, orientation, temperature, amongst others. These measurements aid these devices in catering to our needs.

For instance, a phone’s proximity sensor detects how close the phone is to an object. Whenever making a call, the phone will disable the touch screen when the face is close enough. This prevents unwanted touch input when the skin makes contact with the screen.

Normally, the devices send signals to humans so they can respond in accordance. Some of these devices are also set-up to respond to the signals they pick up.

What makes IoT different is that the devices send signals to one another, forming a huge network. Using the information they receive from other devices, they decide on what action must be taken.

How does it work?

The IoT process can be broken down into four phases as shown below,

iot-diagram

In order to illustrate, we consider a real-life application. Smart homes refer to homes with an IoT system. A network of devices and sensors are installed in the house to automate tasks. Here’s one system which could be implemented in a smart home,

  • Data Collection: Sensors installed in the rooms detect whether or not a particular room is occupied.
  • Data Transfer: The sensors send information to nearby devices. For instance, an air conditioner.
  • Data Analysis: The air-conditioner discerns whether or not the house is occupied.
  • Response: If there are no occupants in the house, the air-conditioning unit can be configured to switch to energy saving mode. If a person is detected to have returned home, the unit can be set-up to revert to regular mode.

IoT is extremely versatile. Its wide range of applications encompass industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Of course, a downside with IoT is that a lot of devices need to be installed in order to attain complete integration. Right now, this is expensive since IoT is still developing. As with other things, this is expected to change as people continue to embrace this technology.

With developments such as IoT, we’re truly on our way to smarter cities and better lives.

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