In this world of Computers, there has been much more than just a revolution and one of the reasons for this is the Internet of Things (IoT). There have been tons of innovations ranging from newer Operating systems to the birth of eCommerce, to smarter devices such as smartphones and etc. In this article, we will go through various concepts that constitute the IoT and its use cases. We will see what IoT is, what are building blocks, and hardware and software involved in this trending technology. We will also go through some sample use cases to understand this in a better manner.

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In this blog, we will discuss the following topics.                       

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The term Internet of Things or IoT usually refers to the scenarios where normal items of our day-to-day lives are extended with network connectivity and stronger computing capabilities generate data that could further be exchanged, collected, consumed with almost no human intervention (in the whole process). The IoT can be better explained as one of the emerging technology concepts that has got its own significance in all aspects of the world. Components of our day to day lives such as the Durable goods, Vehicles, Consumer Products, Utilities, Sensors when combined with the internet connectivity and stronger data analytic capabilities - has promised a transformed way of our life significantly.

How does the IoT work?

Further to what we have discussed above, we will now take a closer look at how things work within. For this, there is a definite need to understand the underlying architecture altogether. This will not only provide you the details that are required for you to carry out an experiment all by yourselves but also provides you a better understanding of the whole concept.

An IoT system altogether consists of 4 different components which are Sensors, Connectivity, Data Processing, and the final one being a User Interface. Now with this understanding, let us go through each and every component in detail (you can also make some references of these from the architecture diagram that is provided below):

Sensors:

Sensors are the devices that start the whole process of data collection, verification. This could be any simple device like a temperature reading to an advanced level such as a video feed altogether. Sensor as such a component in the IoT system could be just a single device or a combination of various sensors, devices that collect data from the intended environment.

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Connectivity:

Connectivity forms the major part, as the data collected in the step above needs to be sent out to a step where it can be processed and a thoughtful decision be made out of that data. These devices may all be connected to the Cloud via various methods such as WiFi, Cellular Satellite, Bluetooth, LAN, WAN and etc. Each of these has its own set of pros and cons, that needs to be thought over before setting up the IoT system altogether.

Data Processing:

Once the data is collected and obtained to this step via your pre-set connectivity, then it is all logic to process this data. Based on the data that you are collecting, the processing of this will be dependent. For example, if your incoming data is temperature then the probable example for data processing is to check whether it is within a permissible limit or not.

User Interface:

Based on the processed data, what are the next set of actions that you want to perform could be checked on a User interface. This could probably be your Mobile application on a phone or a tablet etc.

Building Blocks of the Internet of Things (IoT):

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Based on the above, you would have already got an idea of the whole concept. As per the above architecture, there are two sets of components that come into the picture - the first being the hardware components such as the sensors, devices, etc and the other side of the system are your software components such as mobile applications, processing tools/software. With this context, let us now take a look at each of these components in detail and get some understanding of these.

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IoT Hardware:

The set of devices that respond and have the capabilities to capture data, follow the instructions can be considered as the IoT Hardware. The following fall into such categories where they not only collect data but also respond to instructions based on the processed data.

1. Chips:

This is much a broader classification that contains all the electrical and electronic appliances such as microcontrollers, chips, integrated circuits, radio frequency systems, etc.

2. Sensors:

Sensors, which are one of the base components of an IoT system, have three modules to it - Power Management modules, Sensing modules, and the Energy modules.

3. Actuators:

These devices provide the motion to a data collection system such as the solenoids, comb drives etc to fetch details based on movements.

4. Standard devices:

Standard devices constitute of the generally used devices such as Tablets, Smartphones, Switches, Routers and etc. Each of these devices have their own set of settings that allow them to collect data.

Related Article: Top 10 Real-World IoT Applications

IoT Software:

The set of programs that help you get the activities done like the data collection, processing, storage, and evaluating instructions based on the processed data from the IoT Software. Operating Systems, firmware, applications, middleware are some of the examples that fall into this category.

1. Data Collection:

This step involves the core of the data collection aspects ranging from sensing the data, filtering it, measuring it, aggregating it, and at the end managing the security of the collected data. Data collection can be performed from various sources, and once done is distributed over devices and then to a central data repository.

2. Device Integration:

This ensures that all components within the IoT system are all well integrated. It manages all the limitations, protocols, and applications are handled properly to ensure proper communication amongst the devices.

3. Real-Time Analytics:

Over the collected data and the processing that is done over this data, there can be automated tasks that could run and analyze this data for specific patterns.

4. Application and Process Extension:

This ensures that the data collection process can be accentuated to get the most of it, from all possible sources. These are more like the enhancers over the existing data collection infrastructure.

Use cases of IoT Platforms:

IoT finds its usage in almost all the Business Verticals, be it Healthcare, Travel, Education, Real Estate, Retail, Economy. This technology has opened up doors for everyone to leverage this and make a better future for themselves. In the process, the whole industry has undergone major shifts causing enough revolution. These are groundbreaking changes that are brought in that has caused various changes in the whole process altogether.

There are various use cases that can be identified in these Verticals, which are outlined here:

1. Healthcare: 

IoT can evaluate if there is a possibility that the patient is prone to any Chronic diseases based on his / her medical history.

2. Travel:

IoT can ease all your travel needs ranging from your itinerary to your electronic room keys, travel needs, aids, and information. It could be your single point of information source in the near future.

3. Education:

Bringing all the education needs to an easy process, knowledge on-demand, knowledge sharing amongst peers across geographical locations. Skill gaps, knowledge gaps can be reduced with the various ways of knowledge sharing.

4. Real Estate:

Energy-efficient solutions, smart options to cover space, and comfort will shape the Real Estate sector to newer heights. Electrical devices such as a fan, light are switched ON only if human presence is sensed, else these will be switched OFF. Thereby, reduces the power consumption to a greater deal. 

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5. Retail:

Stores based on demand, easier checkouts, easier warehouse maintenance, better demand-supply chains. With this, based on demand - warehouse management becomes much more simpler.

6. Economy:

The concept of Smart Contracts based on the technologies BlockChain and the Internet of Things is nearing reality. It cuts down the whole process of all manual efforts.

Conclusion:

In an attempt to explain the whole concept behind the IoT, we have introduced you with many more technologies and techniques. In order to excel in this field, there is always a requirement for you to excel in both the IT and the Electrical / Electronics sides, to be able to develop and execute a model. I hope that this article has helped you take the initial steps towards this wonderful journey of IoT.