THE INTERNET OF THINGS(IoT) — A NEW WAY OF CONNECTING

Imagine a world where everything was connected to the internet. Everything ranging from security cameras, wearables to transportation system and manufacturing through digital control systems, etc. This is the concept of the Internet of Things. According to Wikipedia.org, “the Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data”. This is no doubt a possible gesture, because broadband Internet as we know it is become more widely available, the cost of connecting is decreasing, more devices are being created with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors built into them, technology costs are going down, and smartphone penetration is sky-rocketing. All of these things are creating a “perfect storm”, so to speak, for the IoT. The idea of IoT is that the “things can be monitored, controlled and linked over the Internet via a mobile app”. (www.recode.net). A broad category of these devices implementing or ready for the revolutionary Internet of Things are Smart locks, smart thermostats, smart cars, etc.

The internet has been around for quite a while, and has inferable brought to possibility things that seemed impossible way before its inception. The internet on its own is a continuum of an organized structure capable of connecting people and things from around the world. At the present the number of connected devices is staggering, however with the advancement in technology and the way the world is becoming “digitally smart”, that number is going to get even larger. The internet is therefore a fitting cornerstone for the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT).

THE “THINGS” IN INTERNET OF THINGS

The meaning of things is quite generic in the sphere of the IoT (Internet of Things), and span across different category of devices from wearables to light bulbs to home appliances it thus refers to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, cameras streaming live feeds of wild animals in coastal waters automobiles with built-in sensors, DNA analysis devices for environmental/food/pathogen monitoring or field operation devices that assist fire fighters in search and rescue operations.( The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be “over 26 billion connected devices”. That’s a lot of connections; however this number is expected to keep increasing.

Figure 1: Source — www.forbes.com

The figure above is the visual concept of the Internet of Things, as seen here, almost everything in the “Libelium Smart World” is connected in some way to the internet. On a broader scale, the IoT can be applied to things like transportation networks: “smart cities” which can help in the reduction of waste and improve efficiency for things such as energy use; this helping us understand and improve how we work and live.

APPLICATIONS OF INTERNET OF THINGS

The importance of the internet of things stems from its applicability. Sinc3 the “things” cover a wide range of category of devices, then the application is to even to a wider extent. The Internet of Things finds application in the following areas:

1. Transportation

The IoT can assist in integration of communications, control, and information processing across various transportation systems. Application of the IoT extends to all aspects of transportation systems (i.e. the vehicle, the infrastructure, and the driver or user). Dynamic interaction between these components of a transport system enables inter and intra vehicular communication, smart traffic control, smart parking, etc.

2. Consumer Application

A growing portion of IoT devices are created for consumer use. Examples of consumer applications include connected car, entertainment, residences and smart homes, wearable technology, quantified self, connected health, and smart retail. Consumer IoT provides new opportunities for user experience and interfaces.

3. Agriculture

The integration of wireless sensors with agricultural mobile apps and cloud platforms helps in collecting vital information pertaining to the environmental conditions– temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed, pest infestation, soil humus content or nutrients, besides others — linked with a farmland, can be used to improve and automate farming techniques, take informed decisions to improve quality and quantity, and minimize risks and wastes.

4. Health

IoT devices can be used to enable remote health monitoring and emergency notification systems. These health monitoring devices can range from blood pressure and heart rate monitors to advanced devices capable of monitoring specialized implants, such as pacemakers, Fitbit electronic wristbands, or advanced hearing aids

5. Building and home automation

IoT devices can be used to monitor and control the mechanical, electrical and electronic systems used in various types of buildings (e.g., public and private, industrial, institutions, or residential) in home automation and building automation systems through the integration of the internet with building energy management systems in order to create energy efficient and IOT driven “smart buildings”, and also the integration of smart devices in the built environment and how they might be used in future applications, among others.

ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES FOR IOT

For IoT to work sustainably there are other technologies it is dependent on so as to function properly. Some of these are listed below:

Short-range wireless

  • Bluetooth mesh networking
  • Light-Fidelity (Li-Fi) — Wireless communication technology similar to the Wi-Fi standard
  • Near-field communication (NFC)
  • QR codes and barcodes.
  • Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
  • Wi-Fi — Widely used technology for local area networking based on the IEEE 802.11 standard.
  • Wi-Fi Direct — Variant of the Wi-Fi

etc

Medium-range wireless

  • HaLow — Variant of the Wi-Fi standard providing extended range for low-power communication at a lower data rate.
  • LTE-Advanced — High-speed communication specification for mobile networks.

Long-range wireless

  • Low-power wide-area networking (LPWAN) –
  • Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT)
  • Long-range Wi-Fi connectivity

Wired

· Ethernet — General purpose networking standard using twisted pair and fiber optic links in conjunction with hubs or switches.

· MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance )

CONCLUSION

In essence, the emergence of the internet of Things is by far the newest and smartest way to connect, be it people-to-people, things-to-things or people-to-things. Therefore now would be on the safe side to start taping into this emerging technology, while however keeping in mind the loopholes created by the internet in terms of security, privacy, etc.