The Internet of Things: What You Need to Know

The IoT

How would you like to have the ability to control the temperature of your home from hundreds of miles away? Would you believe us if we told you that there are solutions available to help farmers monitor soil health and crop levels from the comfort of their own home? This is all possible with the Internet of Things, commonly referred to as the IoT. If you do not have a complete understanding of IoT, you’re in the right place. What follows is a brief overview of the IoT, and how it could impact your life.

Internet of Things?

The IoT refers to a network of Internet-connected devices that are able to collect and exchange information. According to a recent article by Forbes, as of 2017, there were 15 billion IoT devices worldwide. Experts predict this number will increase to 70 billion by 2020. Given this bold prediction, it’s easy to see the huge impact IoT could have on our lives in the near future.

A Brief History of the IoT

The IoT dates back to the 1980’s when programmers at Carnegie Melon University connected a Coca-Cola machine to the Internet in order to check inventory and chill levels. Though the IoT has technically been around for quite some time, it was not officially named until 1999. The IoT did not gain popularity until the late 2000’s.
Some of the more notable milestones in IoT history include:

  • 1996: General Motors released its On-Star service.
  • 2000: The first smart refrigerator is launched by LG.
  • 2007: The first Fitbit is launched.
  • 2009: Google starts to test self-driving cars on California freeways.
  • 2013: Amazon announces its drone delivering system.
  • 2014: There are now more mobile devices and machines than the entire human population. The Industrial Internet Consortium was created by leading tech companies to create standards around the IoT. Amazon launches its Echo to Prime Members.
  • 2017: Lyft and GM test autonomous taxis.

Convergence with Big Data?

Big Data and the IoT are intertwined. As the demand for big data in business increases, so will the adoption of IoT. Simply put, the more IoT devices on the market, the more data they will generate. This leads to increased intelligence for businesses as well as increased opportunities to make a profit. In addition, Big Data and IoT are essential for innovation. Companies that do not take advantage of Big Data and IoT devices will run the risk of becoming extinct. IoT provides automated efficiencies that simply cannot be ignored.

Benefits of IoT To Businesses

IoT has the ability to provide businesses with rich data that can lead to improved production and increased profitability.

Some additional benefits of IoT in business include:

  • Better ability to understand customers.
  • Ability to deliver new customer value propositions.
  • Ability to improve production and overall business operations.
  • Increased income and product quality.
  • Improved company-wide decision making.

Benefits of IoT To Consumers

The top benefit IoT provides consumers with is convenience. From allowing you to control the temperature of your home via your smartphone, to having your refrigerator monitor your food inventory, the IoT can save you time and money by automating tasks.

Some additional benefits of IoT for consumers include:

  • Deeper insight into our behaviors so we can better understand ourselves.
  • Increased security of homes and other valuables.
  • Easier and more efficient shopping.
  • Smarter and more cost-efficient transportation options.

It Doesn’t Stop There.

Have You Heard of Smart Cities? You may have heard of the term “Smart City,” but are unsure what it refers to. Essentially, a smart city is a designation that is given to a city that uses IoT technology to improve the performance of offerings like energy, utilities, and transportation. This technology is used to reduce the overuse and waste of resources. Some of the top smart cities in the world include Singapore, Barcelona, London, San Francisco, and Oslo. Experts predict that the number of smart cities will increase drastically by 2020.

Security & Privacy

The IoT provides consumers and businesses with many benefits, however; there are some security and privacy risks that need to be taken into consideration as the adoption of IoT devices increases.
First, as the number of devices collecting data increases, so does the possibility for this data to get into the wrong hands. There have been instances of smart home platforms getting hacked with little to no effort. In addition, the IoT can also be associated with various privacy issues including how companies are able to gather information and data about consumers. Just how far are companies allowed to dive into our personal lives before it’s considered a breach of privacy? Lastly, many consumers are concerned with hackers’ ability to listen in on conversations, and even take over homes. These are just a few of the potential security and privacy issues associated with the IoT. Though there is risk associated with the IoT, the potential benefit to consumers and businesses is hard to overlook.

What’s This All Mean?

The IoT has the potential to change the world as we know it, and this transformation has already started to happen. As our world continues to evolve, and technology continues to advance, it’s exciting to think about where IoT can take us, and what we can accomplish as a society with the pairing of IoT and Big Data. From smarter cities, to self-driving vehicles, to automated farming, the possibilities really are endless.

Colby Albarado

Colby Albarado

Colby is a fullstack developer

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