The internet of Things, or “IoT” for short, is about extending the power of the internet beyond computers and smartphones to a whole range of other things, processes and environments. Those “connected” things are used to gather information, send information back, or both.
Why does IoT matter?: IoT provides businesses and people better insight into and control over the 99 percent of objects and environments that remain beyond the reach of the internet. And by doing so, IoT allows businesses and people to be more connected to the world around them and to do more meaningful, higher-level work.
What is the Internet of Things?
That includes an extraordinary number of objects of all shapes and sizes – from smart microwaves, which automatically cook your food for the right length of time, to self-driving cars, whose complex sensors detect objects in their path, to wearable fitness devices that measure your heart rate and the number of steps you’ve taken that day, then use that information to suggest exercise plans tailored to you. There are even connected footballs that can track how far and fast they are thrown and record those statistics via an app for future training purposes.
How does it work?
Devices and objects with built in sensors are connected to an Internet of Things platform, which integrates data from the different devices and applies analytics to share the most valuable information with applications built to address specific needs.
These powerful IoT platforms can pinpoint exactly what information is useful and what can safely be ignored. This information can be used to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems before they occur.
For example, if I own a car manufacturing business, I might want to know which optional components (leather seats or alloy wheels, for example) are the most popular. Using Internet of Things technology, I can:
- Use sensors to detect which areas in a showroom are the most popular, and where customers linger longest;
- Drill down into the available sales data to identify which components are selling fastest;
- Automatically align sales data with supply, so that popular items don’t go out of stock.
The information picked up by connected devices enables me to make smart decisions about which components to stock up on, based on real-time information, which helps me save time and money.
With the insight provided by advanced analytics comes the power to make processes more efficient. Smart objects and systems mean you can automate certain tasks, particularly when these are repetitive, mundane, time-consuming or even dangerous. Let’s look at some examples to see what this looks like in real life.