Trending Topic: Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, whilst becoming increasing relevant, isn’t actually a new phenomenon. In fact first internet-connected toaster was unveiled at a conference as early as 1989. In this article we will outline how the Internet of Things (IoT) works, and the advantages that are associated with its development.

How it works

Put simply IoT devices refer to any object connected to the internet, which can then update their status automatically and collect data. This data can then be shared and exchanged between similar connected devices. Every device is equipped with processors, sensors and network technology; it also has network connection and an individual IP address. These sensors connect the real world to the digital world by measuring the location, temperature, movement or even the brightness of their surroundings.

If a user sends an information request to the IoT device via a terminal device (smartphone, PC, tablet) the data is then gathered by the sensors and is made available for further use. The users can then react and adapt the properties of the IoT device depending on each individual situation. The data can then be stored in the cloud, a local database, in a terminal device or in the IoT device itself. Storing the data in a cloud has the advantage of easy data exchange between the administration service and devices.

Smart home vs. industry 4.0

The term “Smart home” refers to a connection between all technical devices within a household. This can involve the control of lighting, heating, security, and can even include the connection of household appliances. However the potential of the IoT scales up far beyond smart houses; it could be possible to connect entire cities across a shared network, which has the potential to revolutionise future urban planning and development.

When machines and industrial devices are equipped with this connection and data collecting capabilities, it is referred to as industry 4.0. Here there is the potential for smart and connected factories are built, where complete production plants can communicate via M2M (Machine-to-Machine Communication). This allows certain processes to be performed and completed far more cheaply and efficiently. At the moment IoT is used in companies in order to optimize the production and distribution.

IoT and safety

As with any technological innovation there are concerns across all areas surrounding the potential security risks of the IoT. Cyber Security has become an increasing concern recently following a number of high profile cyber-attacks. A report released by software company Symantec stated that 689 million across 21 countries were affected by cybercrime last year. The risk of hacks and the possibility that IoT devices could interfere with highly sensitive areas such as the power supply, are very real issues that need to be addressed going forward. Currently there isn’t a completely reliable method for evaluating the security of an IoT device, making it difficult to evaluating IoT devices. That being said, the potential benefits of the IoT are numerous. At one level, intelligent, connected devices will begin to simplify daily routines, but in the future could become the first step towards a fully integrated digital and physical world.

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