What is Internet of Things: A Definitive Guide

Learn what IoT or the Internet of Things is, why it’s important, how adopting it can benefit an organization, and everything you need to know about this important piece of technology.

IOT

What is Internet of Things (IoT)?

Simply put, IoT or the Internet of Things is the concept of connecting certain devices with an on-and-off switch to the internet and with other similar devices. That way, the devices can “communicate” with each other and work in tandem seamlessly.

For example, many modern homes are equipped with smart appliances like a microwave. These appliances connect to the internet and your phone. And when you control your smart appliance with your phone, you’re actually using the internet of things.

In professional settings, IoT can be used to smoothen operations in industries like manufacturing and construction. For example, you can see IoT in action with climate control devices, advanced security, and other similar devices. If the device connects to the internet and can communicate with other devices whether it’s a phone, control system, or a different appliance, then it’s part of the internet of things.

Importance and Applications

The 21st century has propelled IoT to the forefront of technology, with many experts calling it one of the most important innovations of our time. The act of connecting devices to the internet to communicate with other devices and people allows for a more seamless use of technology.

That way, physical objects can start collecting data and performing tasks with minimal intervention. This not only allows different processes to be streamlined, but it can also create a more efficient and convenient world for everyone.

Some of the ways the IoT is being applied in modern industries include:

  • Smart homes
  • Smart security systems you can control from your phone
  • Wearable health monitors that give regular updates
  • Climate control systems that give you a live feed
  • Smart manufacturing equipment
  • Trackers in shipping containers that transmit data through the internet

Benefits

The biggest benefit of IoT is how it can improve productivity and reduce the need for human labor. For example, installing IoT trackers in shipping containers allows customers and manufacturers to track exactly where their products are and how long before they arrive at their destination. That way, there’s no need for an employee to manually input and update the data whenever the products are in transit.

On top of that, IoT can also improve security. Currently, many establishments use security camera systems connected to the internet. These cameras transmit a live feed to security managers via the internet and allow them to keep their areas in check.

Another crucial benefit of IoT is improved safety. With IoT, there is a lesser need for human intervention so that workers won’t be putting themselves through unnecessary risks. Additionally, it allows organizations to keep track of safety within an establishment without that much work.

A great way that people are doing this is through wearable technology. For example, workers can wear temperature, heart rate, and other types of monitors to keep track of crucial safety metrics. And if ever something is out of order, the device can send a message right away to inform someone who can help or address the issue.

There are many ways IoT can benefit a company. From boosting productivity to increasing safety, it’s no wonder many companies and organizations are starting to adopt IoT and integrate new technologies.

Common Components of IoT

To be considered an IoT system, you need four components. These are:

  1. Sensors or devices – record and gather data
  2. Data processing units – interpret the raw data from sensors
  3. Internet connectivity – transfer the data to the system
  4. User interface – allows a person to view and read all the data that the system records; serves as the main control center of the system and where you can tweak all the settings

These are the base components for a system to qualify as an IoT system. That said, there are more complex IoT systems available with even more components. Different industries have their own methods of developing IoT systems, and there is a lot of room for this technology to grow.

What Industries Use IoT?

Here are some of the various industries that use IoT systems.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is one of the industries that can benefit the most from IoT. When used in this industry, these systems are also referred to as industrial IoT. These systems typically involve sensors to monitor temperatures in manufacturing areas, safety and security systems, and even communication systems within the organization.

Hospitality

One of the ways the hospitality industry uses IoT is by using smart rooms. There are many hotels nowadays that offer guests a smart controller that they can use to control the temperature, lighting, and other factors of the room. This provides a better guest experience while also reducing the staff’s labor.

Health

The health industry uses IoT primarily through wearable devices. For example, patients can wear heart monitors that transmit data to doctors in real-time. That way, if ever there’s a spike or dip that requires medical attention, the team can attend to the matter right away.

Agriculture

Agriculture is another industry experiencing an IoT revolution. Farmers can use sensors to detect soil quality and temperature, monitoring tools for their crops, and even drones that they can use to survey the area and perform other tasks.

FAQs about Internet of Things

To name a few, the typical networks that IoT systems and devices use to connect to other devices include:

  • Cellular networks
  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity)
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
  • ZigBee protocols

Some examples of IoT devices are smart appliances like speakers, microwaves, ovens, and washing machines. Smart security systems like smart locks and smart surveillance cameras are other common examples of IoT devices.

While IoT systems are safe to use, they are also vulnerable to hacks and attacks. These devices may not have built-in security systems, so it’s important to compensate for that by taking your own measures to increase IoT security.

Security is the biggest challenge in IoT adoption. Since many IoT systems don’t have built-in security protocols, they can be vulnerable. To make up for this, it’s important to put in security controls and measures to ensure that your network is safe.

Leon Altomonte
Article by
Leon Altomonte
Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.