What is IoT?

 

Have you been wondering what’s all the deal about IoT? In this article, we will be covering just that and everything necessary to understand about IoT, how it works, what are its pros and cons, what industries can benefit from it, and finally how one prepares for a career in this new domain.

Data is currently challenging the traditional ways of working and adding new cloud technologies that can contribute tremendously to the growth of every sector. Integrating IoT with all these cloud technologies greatly changes the way how the industry works.

So, dive in this article to know everything about the IoT that is ready to bring revolution.

In this blog, we will discuss the following topics.                       

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What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a system that refers to the connected physical devices that are accessible through the software, sensors, and other technologies for the objective of connecting & exchanging data with other devices over the internet.

Everything now from ordinary objects to industrial tools has become a part of the IoT. This connectivity and seamless communication have been possible due to the ease of development of economical chips, sensors, hardware, and the availability of wireless networks everywhere.

The smart IoT devices thus connected in the network are intelligent and more responsive. Like for example, if you have smart lighting in your house, you wouldn’t have to worry about switching them on & off every time you walk out of the house. It will be taken care of.  Thus, IoT not only makes life easier but also contributes to creating an environment where all the daily tasks are automated for better outcomes.

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Why Is IoT so Important?

IoT has become this century's very important technology as it offers more value in the market, benefiting both customers and manufacturers. In addition to automating and building smart homes, IoT has also reached the industrial businesses by providing them with the benefit of using real-time data to create more efficient, stable, and smarter systems. 

The data finds itself very useful for businesses to keep track of their systems, products, and services to improve them for better performance and results. This also reduces manual labor, cuts costs, and saves time. Thus, ensuring that IoT will be one of the important technologies in re-shaping the future and bringing in the next industrial revolution.

How Does IoT Work?

The devices which comprise the IoT are connected via sensors, communication hardware, and processors that are used for establishing communication among them via the internet. The data that flows in and out of these devices hence control their behavior and course of action. Also, known as machine-to-machine communication, is the process through which these smart devices communicate. 

With minimal human interventions, these devices can communicate with other connected devices on the network, and humans will only need to initiate, give them instructions, and access the data henceforth to monitor their performance. This has been made possible due to the availability of the tiny mobile processors and devices easily these days, as well as the ever-online connectivity of our home and business networks.

Related Article: Hardware and Software of IoT

What are the Advantages of IoT?

The Internet of Things or IoT has been excelling in making life easier for everyone by connecting the world through a network of smart devices. IoT opens up a wide variety of possibilities for enhancing the quality of life in all ways by automating daily tasks and giving us the power to leverage digital intelligence at its best. Here are some of the advantages of IoT:

  • Seamless Communication - is achieved between physical devices via wireless networks and sensors which improve the efficiency and quality of the connected devices. This provides prompt responses, effective management, and control over these digitally intelligent devices.

  • Real-time Data Accessibility - is maintained by this technology. Hence, when everything in this era is data controlled, the transparency and real-time data being offered by IoT devices help a lot to make better decisions and maintain the quality of the service.

  • Performance Tracking - is accomplished by having all the devices connected on wireless networks. The real-time data which is obtained and the spontaneous results of the commands which are given to these devices help in observing the performance of the devices connected on the network and improve their performance for better results. 

  • Cost Control - is brought by IoT. Since manual labor is effectively cut down, hence the cost also decreases. Most of the operations are done by smart devices on their own. Humans are only required to set up the device, run commands sometimes, do performance checks, and that is all. Most of these devices can make smart decisions on their own depending on their configuration and hence require less human intervention and minimized human errors.

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    Efficiency & Time Saving - is one of the most important factors that most people want and it is promised by IoT. The time is cut down as smart devices are more efficient in taking fast and appropriate decisions on their own. Also, the control offered to us makes it easier for us to control these devices and information from anywhere in the world saving time and money both.

  • Automation of simple tasks - is one of the most essential benefits that IoT provides. Simple daily tasks such as turning on the lights and fan, health monitoring, railway operations, digital constructions, etc. are all automated and connected via wireless networks sharing and exchanging enormous amounts of data in seconds to make life easier and living smarter for all of us.

What are the Disadvantages of IoT?  

While the number of advantages might outnumber the disadvantages, it is still imperative to keep a tab on the shortcomings of this technology. Also, by identifying the disadvantages we can leverage on the right spots to make this technology work the best for us. Here are some of the disadvantages of IoT:

  • Security/Privacy Issue - With all the data being easily accessible now, the concerns of it being misused also rises. Your data is being transferred and shared across the wireless networks and how strong the encryption can’t be said. The IoT system offers little control despite any security measures, and it can lead to some serious network attacks.

  • Compliance Challenges - There might be technical issues due to the interconnection of a large number of devices by various manufacturers. The challenges of compliance can result in people buying appliances only from a selective manufacturer, leading to their market monopoly.

  • Complex - The designing, developing, maintaining, and enabling internet-connected devices through IoT systems can prove to be quite complicated. Any type of failure or bug in the software or hardware might end up having serious consequences.

  • Lesser Jobs - With most of the operations and installations being carried out remotely, the manual labor requirement decreases which in turn decreases the job opportunities in the market. Also, many unskilled laborers might end up losing their jobs due to the automation of simple daily tasks.

Related Article: IoT Interview Questions and Answers

What Are IoT Applications?   

IoT applications cover several verticals, including automotive, agriculture, telecom, healthcare, energy, and many more. With the advent of large production of economical sensors, communication hardware, fast computing capabilities, and accessible wireless networks everywhere, IoT is taking over the world very fast.

All the verticals promise better performance and ease of management with the connection and communication offered by IoT. From automated irrigation systems to smart homes, to smart lighting & sound systems for home & office, there are multiple areas in which IoT has revolutionized the traditional ways and brought more control and consistent better-performing systems. Some of the examples of IoT applications are:

  • Smart Farming - It can help to monitor light, humidity, soil texture, temperature, etc. of farm areas using sensors to track their performance and adjust other systems accordingly. IoT can be implemented to automate irrigation systems too.

  • Smart Homes - One of the most beneficial and useful areas for IoT is smart homes by having internet-enabled devices around the house such as speakers, fridge, lightbulbs, cameras, etc. Not only will they conserve energy but will also ensure that you have more control and accessibility to all when even outside reach. They will help in creating a more safe and secure environment for children and the elderly.

  • Manufacturing & Supply Chain - With IoT, more transparency is gained in terms of data hence providing the opportunity to track the performance of all systems along with optimizing them for better outcomes. New manufacturing and supply chain models can be built for better utilization of resources and high efficiency. Machines can be controlled and analyzed continuously to ensure they work within necessary safety margins. Goods may also be tracked to detect quality issues and fix them in real-time.

  • Healthcare - It becomes more convenient to keep a check on patients and have the ability to monitor them using the data that's generated by using IoT. Also, any individual can keep track of their health by wearing smart devices. The analysis of data helps in making quick and smart decisions. Also, hospitals can implement smart inventory management systems for medical devices and medicines.

What Industries Can Benefit from IoT?

The following industries can benefit from IoT:

  • Manufacturing & Supply Chain - It can benefit from IoT by having all the production equipment and supply chain models connected through wireless networks. This will help in predicting any shortcomings beforehand and also detect an impending failure. Also, the quality of products will be in check and prevent the company from incurring any additional operating costs. 

  • Healthcare - The Healthcare industry can have multiple benefits by using IoT technology. It will help the medical staff in the hospitals to keep track of wheelchair-bound patients and other patients if they come across any fluctuations in their medical condition. It will help them to monitor the patient in time with all the data that is available more easily and quickly. Also, the medical equipment and pharmaceuticals can be accounted for and maintained via having smart inventory management in place.

  • Retail - Retail businesses will benefit from having a more effective system in place for inventory management, enhancing customer service, managing supply chain, and reducing operating costs.

  • Transportation and Logistics - With this technology, the IoT application will help transport and logistics companies develop their navigation and weather control systems with real-time data at their behest. They can redirect their vehicles depending on external factors as and when required, as well as keep checking the items carried in these vehicles to suggest better ways that will not compromise their qualities and safety.

In addition to the above examples, several industries can still benefit from IoT and its applications. In general, all of these industries can have improved safety provisions for both employees and the good that they produce. It will help them track the office working conditions and help them improve them to achieve better results. 

Workers' safety is also of utmost importance especially in industries such as mining, oil & gas, chemical & power plants, so having smart wearables and sensors in these places would help to prevent major industrial accidents and hazards. 

Related Article: Tutorial On AWS IoT

What is the Industrial IoT?

The industrial internet of things or IIoT is used to refer to the usage of IoT technology in industries and industrial applications. It focuses on enabling the use of IoT with cloud technologies, data analytics, AI, and machine-to-machine communication to have more efficient and responsive systems in place. This helps in expanding the bandwidth of information for measuring and optimizing industrial processes and business models. 

Along with cloud technologies, Industrial IoT (IIoT) helps in creating sources of new revenue and reliable systems. The automation and control that is achieved by the integration of IIoT in the industrial processes and infrastructure contribute to making better-informed decisions and taking specific actions on time. The consistent supply of real-time data via smart devices helps companies to predict and detect any failures on time and address them to avoid any kind of losses. Hence, IIoT provides a more accurate vision for businesses in the future and optimizes their operations for better results.

The following are some areas where Industrial IoT can be used:

  • Manufacturing & Supply Chain

  • Smart Energy & Power Grids

  • Logistics

  • Smart Cities

  • Healthcare

  • Inventory Management

  • Wearable Devices

  • Smart Farming

Internet of Things Evolution & Future

The idea of adding intelligence via sensors and other hardware components to the physical devices for enabling connectivity between them has been debated since the 1980s. But we were only able to go as far as internet-connected vending machines. The hindrance was expensive components, bulkier computer chips, and inconsistent internet availability.

Then the introduction and adoption of RFID tags somewhat helped to curb the issue. Also, the adoption of IPv6 helped the idea to progress further.  

Following this, in 1999 Kevin Ashton coined the term 'Internet of Things,' but it took the technology at least another decade to catch up with the idea. RFID tags were added to types of equipment to track their location and that was one of the first applications of IoT. After that, prices have been falling for the sensors, hardware, and internet connection, paving the way to connect possibly everything to the internet.

Slowly and steadily IoT has started growing from only manufacturing and businesses to homes and offices. Now, most of the areas are possibly connected to the internet allowing IoT to emerge as one of the most essential technologies in the coming years.

What Skills are Needed for IoT Developers? 

While many skills are needed to excel at any technology, we have listed down below the top 5 skills which are essential for any developer to embark their career in this technology:

  • Machine Learning and AI - With an enormous amount of data coming from IoT, it would be necessary to learn the ways to study them, decipher their pattern, and gradually predict the result. Hence, Machine Learning & AI will become important tools to handle more tasks and make calculated decisions.

  • Design for Data - One of the most crucial requirements to work with IoT would be the ability to work with data. The ability to read and interpret the data in a useful way to come to fruitful conclusions thereafter. Hence, having a hold on Big data and analytics would be of great use.

  • Automation - Learning how to connect automatic API testing with manual testing would be essential for developers if they want to get their products & services to the market.

  • IP Networking - With so much data being shared and exchanged between different networks, it is a must for the developers to know the basics of how connectivity protocols work. The channel of information flow should be designed to be reliable, secure, and flawless.

  • Hardware Interfacing - Connection of so many physical devices is possible due to hardware programming and therefore you need to learn if you want to build your career as an embedded engineer in this domain. Knowledge of at least one operating system, such as Linux and one embedded system such as Contiki would be a nice skill set to have.

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Conclusion

IoT has started changing traditional ways of industry and its use is still early in a lot of verticals, with some industries further along than others. However, with the fourth industrial revolution on its way, IoT will only have a larger role to play, which means now is the right time to invest and explore the technology. Also, for the enthusiastic professionals who are ready to build and move ahead in their careers, it would be a great advantage for you to learn about IoT and be ahead in the data science field.