What is IoT and what you should know about it

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a set of physical objects connected to the Internet and exchanging data. The IoT concept can significantly improve many areas of our lives and help us create a more convenient, smarter and safer world. Examples of the Internet of Things range from wearables like smartwatches to smart homes that can, for example, control and automatically change the degree of lighting and heating. Also a striking example is the so-called concept of a smart factory (Smart Factory), which controls industrial equipment and looks for problem areas, and then rebuilds so as to prevent breakdowns. The Internet of Things is playing an important role in the digital transformation of companies. It is predicted that by 2030 the number of connected devices will increase to about 24 billion with annual revenues of up to $ 1.5 trillion.

Origin story

The term “Internet of Things” was first used in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Auto-ID Labs (independent network laboratories and research group in the field of networked radio frequency identification and new sensor technologies) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ashton was part of the team that managed to invent a way to connect objects to the Internet using RFID technology. RFID tag – This is an identification mark that allows you to identify objects by means of radio signals; certain information can be applied to it, and later considered a device.

2012 saw a significant change in sensors, accelerating the market readiness of the IoT, and for many companies this has meant that digital transformation is gaining momentum. Technological advances have made possible the emergence of MEMS – microelectromechanical systems (a miniature micro-machined device from both mechanical and electrical components). Thanks to this, the sensors are reduced so much that it became possible to fix them, for example, on clothes.

IoT development history.  Image source: https://www.avsystem.com/blog/what-is-internet-of-things-explanation/
IoT development history. Image source: https://www.avsystem.com/blog/what-is-internet-of-things-explanation/

What is IoT made of? Architecture

For simplicity, let’s try to break the IoT technology stack into four technological levels and consider them separately.

End devices

Devices are objects that actually form “Things” in the Internet of Things. They act as an interface between the real and digital worlds and take on different sizes, shapes, and levels of technological sophistication depending on the task they perform in a particular IoT deployment. Whether it’s microphones the size of a pinhead or impressively sized machines, virtually any material object can be turned into a connected device by adding the necessary elements (sensors or actuators along with the appropriate software).

Software

This is what makes connected devices “smart”. The software is responsible for cloud connectivity, data collection, device integration, and real-time data analysis. It also provides capabilities for data visualization and interaction with the IoT system.

Communications

The communication layer includes both solutions for physical connectivity (cellular and satellite communications, LAN) and special protocols used in various IoT environments (ZigBee, Thread, Z-Wave, MQTT, LwM2M). Choosing the right communications solution is one of the vital parts of building every IoT system. The technology chosen will determine not only how data is sent and received from the cloud, but how it communicates with third-party devices.

Platform

Devices are able to “sense” what is happening around and inform the user about it through a certain communication channel. The IoT platform is the place where all this data is collected, analyzed and transmitted to the user in a convenient form. The platforms can be installed locally or in the cloud. The choice of platform depends on the requirements of a particular IoT project and many factors: architecture and technology stack, reliability, settings, protocols used, hardware independence, security, efficiency, cost.

Below you can consider in more detail the components of the three levels of IoT: end devices (things), networks, clouds.

Typical architecture of an IoT system.  Image source: https://ru.rsdelivers.com/campaigns/InternetofThings/internet-of-things
Typical architecture of an IoT system. Image source: https://ru.rsdelivers.com/campaigns/InternetofThings/internet-of-things

Security

Along with the fact that IoT systems carry significant business value, smart objects also become vulnerable to cybercrime, which can lead to data leakage, including confidential information. While the field of work with security remains vast, solutions are now available to enable IoT deployment more reliably. For example, to solve the problem of device software obsolescence, there are opportunities for effective automatic update strategies.

With SOTA (Software Over the Air) and Firmware Over the Air (Firmware Over the Air), connected devices’ software and settings can be updated wirelessly.

Examples of IoT Applications

IoT is applicable in different industries for different purposes: tracking consumer behavior in real time, improving the quality of machines and systems, finding innovative ways of working in the framework of digital transformation, and much more.

Retail

Examples of retail IoT applications include many use cases for smart devices to improve the experience in stores. Specifically, the various IoT applications here mean that the use of smartphones (based on Beacon technology – miniature beacons) facilitates communication between retailers and buyers, and the most in-demand products and services appear in front of customers in the right place. In addition, smart retail is opening up opportunities for IoT applications in terms of accurate advertising, improved supply chain cycle, and actual analysis of demand patterns. Also, IoT applications already include applications for NFC payments and smart purchases. And of course, we cannot fail to mention RFID tags for marking goods, which provide instant and accurate collection of information, which helps to continuously track the movement of goods, simplify the inventory process and generally reduce the number of errors.

Image source: https://www.pochta.ru/support/post-rules/rfid
Image source: https://www.pochta.ru/support/post-rules/rfid

Production

Thanks to the IoT, manufacturing can get an overall picture of the production processes and the state of the product at all stages – from the supply of raw materials to the shipment of the finished product.

With factory and warehouse sensors, big data analysis and predictive modeling, you can prevent many errors that lead to downtime and waste, maximize productivity, reduce warranty costs, and improve overall customer service.

Health care

With the help of technology IoMT (The Internet of Medical Things) in real time, small data streams are collected from medical network and other wearable devices that track various physiological moments related to the health of patients – movements, sleep dynamics, heart rate, allergic reactions, etc. … The collected data helps doctors in making accurate diagnoses, building a treatment plan, increasing patient safety, simplifying their care, and making it possible to continuously monitor the condition of critically ill patients.

The use of the Internet of Things is helping to create a more personalized approach to health analysis and more coherent disease control strategies.

Healthcare Key Points That Can Be Improved with the IoT.  Image source: https://evercare.ru/news/kak-internet-medicinskikh-veschey-vliyaet-na-zdravookhranenie
Healthcare Key Points That Can Be Improved with the IoT. Image source: https://evercare.ru/news/kak-internet-medicinskikh-veschey-vliyaet-na-zdravookhranenie

Energy

Here, using the IoT, the design of electrical networks is changing the rules of consumption, automatically collecting data and providing instant analysis of the circulation of electricity. As a result, both customers and suppliers have a better understanding of how to optimize resource utilization.

Conclusion

The IoT revolution appears to be important for business development, and this can apply to any type of enterprise. Whether it’s growing oysters or creating a motion control system, the most valuable thing about the IoT technological concept is that it is open to new challenges and has enough room to implement almost any business idea.


Enrollment for the course is open at OTUS right now “IoT Developer”… We invite you to a free webinar, in which our experts will tell you even more about what the Internet of Things is and where it is applied, as well as about career prospects in this area.

Sign up for a webinar.

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