¿Had you ever heard of IOT? ¿Is it something new? ¿should you be concerned about it? Maybe you have heard that term in some video, your friends or teammates could have mentioned it once or twice, or it could be the first time that you hear about it.
In this article you will see what IOT is , its importance and the impact it has had and will have in your daily life.
To define IOT we can look at the meaning of its single words. Therefore:
¿What is Internet?
The Internet is a global wide area network that provides a variety of information and communication facilities. Internet stands for Interconnected Network, thus is a system that connects millions of web servers.
The Internet has grown over, time giving us several services as:
- Data transfer/File sharing
- Email (Gmail, Hotmail, …)
- Social Networks (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, …)
- Online shopping (Amazon, AliExpress, …)
- ¡And many more!
¿And what does “Things” refers to…?
This refers to objects that we can see in our daily life such as apps, phones, cars, washing machines, smart TVs, air conditioners, smart lights, health care devices, even electric smart stoves, etc. These are electronic objects with certain properties, of which can be highlighted four: Monitoring, Control, Optimization and Automation.
These devices allow the recollecting and exchanging of data (with themselves and with other ones), through integrated circuits, sensors, connectivity, etc.
And They are differentiated from simple objects which do not have any of the highlighted properties above.
Now with a clear concept of those two terms.
“The Internet of Things is the concept of connecting any device (so long as it has an on/off switch) to the Internet and to other connected devices. The IoT is a giant network of connected things and people — all of which collect and share data about the way they are used and about the environment around them.
That includes an extraordinary number of objects of all shapes and sizes — from smart microwaves, which automatically cook your food for the right length of time, to self-driving cars, whose complex sensors detect objects in their path, to wearable fitness devices that measure your heart rate and the number of steps you’ve taken that day, then use that information to suggest exercise plans tailored to you. There are even connected footballs that can track how far and fast they are thrown and record those statistics via an app for future training purposes.”
Therefore Internet Of Things or IOT is a giant network with connected devices; this devices gather and share data about how they are being used and the environment in which they are operated.
It is not just something strange that geeks are concerned about it, but something you use day by day, and it is closer than you could think. And…
¿Why this concerns you?
“Over the past few years, IoT has become one of the most important technologies of the 21st century. Now that we can connect everyday objects — kitchen appliances, cars, thermostats, baby monitors — to the internet via embedded devices, seamless communication is possible between people, processes, and things.
By means of low-cost computing, the cloud, big data, analytics, and mobile technologies, physical things can share and collect data with minimal human intervention. In this hyperconnected world, digital systems can record, monitor, and adjust each interaction between connected things. The physical world meets the digital world — and they cooperate.” -Oracle.
As mentioned above IOT is closer than you might imagine. Now taking into account the above quote, lets bring up the pervious highlighted properties.
Monitoring: Is the systematic process of collecting, analyzing and using information to track a program’s progress toward reaching its objectives and to guide management decisions. Thus with IOT we can monitor the state of the actual device. E.g. The fridge of your house monitors the temperature at which it works for keeping the food fresh; so does the air conditioner to put a room in a fixed temperature.
Control: Talking about control is talking about control systems which provides the desired response by controlling an output. These are in fact a set of artifacts that manage to do actions to obtain control under certain tasks. E.g. The trafic lights control system is an example. Here, a sequence of signals is applied to this control system and the output is one of the three lights that will be on for some duration of time, while the other two are off, waiting for that one to be off and then turning on another one.
Automation: Automation is the application of technology, programs, robotics or processes to achieve outcomes with minimal human input. with automation you can reduce operational cost, increase productivity, ensure high availability, increase reliability, optimize performance, and more.
Optimization: And finally optimization. Is the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource, in this case, our “Thing”. This property is essential and it is closely linked to the previous ones, also can be executed thanks to the monitoring; as the monitoring gives information of how the device is working and what can be improved.
With optimization we can have benefits as correct poor initial deployments, enable technology competitive advantage, and several more.
with these concepts clear it can be seen that the previous examples of IOT devices satisfy them. Lets see 3 other illustrations:
- IOT streetlight controller system: When you in the day go for the road and see several light post every one next to other, they are turned off. And no person is going to turn them on on by one… This is because they turn on themselves at a certain hour. Also at night when they are already on (with the same brightness) once a car gets closer to a light post, this post increase its brightness, and once the car has passed, it return to its standard brightness.
But does not end there, they are connected to a network that alerts if a light has been broken.
- Air quality sensors: These are little machines located in different places over a city. Unlike fixed measuring stations, IOT air quality sensors can offer precise data about the global air quality in the city and not just fixed places, also they have a lower acquisition and maintenance cost. This air quality sensors do not offer a reliable data as the fixed stations do, but the one they give is sure enough to let the entity in charge take the corresponding actions.
- IOT farming sensors: There are different devices that gather information about the crops, ground, air, weather, etc. And send this information to the farmer, allowing them to make an easier analysis of their land, and take corresponding actions. Among these devices it can be found sprinklers, smart cars, drones, smart greenhouses, etc.
With those examples it is clear that IOT is a powerful tool in several contexts, but… ¿Is it really that awesome?
When a person navigates in Internet is always exposed to some vulnerabilities either because that person joins unsecure sites that use its information in a bad way, or, downloads malware (files that harms your computer or device). So ¿as other devices can be harmed, can IOT devices be harmed as well?
Of curse they can, a person with bad intentions will try all possibilities to surpass the security system of any device to cause damage (this does not mean all people who try to hack the security system, do it in a bad way; instead enterprises hire people with that knowledge to see where they program is vulnerable and take actions). Besides not only external entities can cause damage ¿what if the device itself is malfunctioning? taking this into account it can be brought up a company that has gown a lot in the IOT market:
“Huang’s Tesla Model X was in “Autopilot” mode and traveling at about 70 miles per hour when it crashed into a safety barrier and was struck by two other vehicles. He died in hospital from his injuries.” -The Guardian
Tesla is a company that offers different kind of products of which one of them are cars, with an additional feature, auto-pilot. This one is describe by Tesla as “an advanced driver assistance system that enhances safety and convenience behind the wheel. When used properly, Autopilot reduces your overall workload as a driver. 8 external cameras, a radar, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a powerful onboard computer provide an additional layer of safety to guide you on your journey.”
knowing that ¿what happened in the above accident? ¿did the auto-pilot system failed because of malfunction? ¿was the system infected with a malware making it to crash? The fact is that not because there is an assistant “assisting”, the person can just ignore its environment, “driver killed in a Silicon Valley crash was playing a video game on his smartphone at the time of his fatal crash”. It can be said taht before you buy a new Tesla you should read not just your rights but also your obligations.
Yes. Autopilot is a hands-on driver assistance system that is intended to be used only with a fully attentive driver. It does not turn a Tesla into a self-driving car nor does it make a car autonomous. -Tesla
Then the responsibility is not just in the company that offers the product (which is always trying to improve it to reach more reliability) but also in the costumer to make a good use of that product.
On the other hand IOT faces another challenge, the energy. New technologies are opting for renewable energy, as the previously mentioned Tesla; which cars are electric cars. But the fact is that people can not just stop using non-renewable energy as soil or coal, and use renewable ones as solar energy or wind energy. Making the transition is going to take time, because an immediate transition will cause the lost of thousands of jobs, of the people that work in that industry. But as said It can be done with a good strategy and structure.
Along all this article you have seen what is IOT, why is important, some complications and benefits of Internet Of Things.
IOT generates operational efficiencies. Through the collection of real time information on product businesses, it can be optimized their related operations and improve productivity. Also creates competitive advantages; Including new functionalities and value services to existing products, differentiating the companies offering them from their competitors.
It is for sure IOT will keep growing and improving as shown above, with new applications, machines, devices, and technologies to help people in their daily life. So we have to learn how to coexist with them.