What is an IoT device?
An IoT device is any device that connects to the internet and can be controlled or communicated with. Mostly referred to as ‘smart’ devices, they range from sharing fairly trivial data and being super-easy to install and control, to sharing very important information and being rather serious and complex.
For instance, you can set up mood lighting in your lounge so you can adjust the settings without leaving your favourite chair. Or you can experience a delay at an airport because a jet engine fitted with IoT components has informed mission control of an issue.
Clever application of smart IoT devices in our world is near limitless.
How do IoT devices work?
IoT devices are password-protected. Once you have the device and the password, that device can gain access to the network and begin to communicate with its necessary transmitters in order to carry out the task it was designed for. Hence, a strong, reliable network is preferable if you have many different devices using it.
Modern homes usually have multiple devices connected to the WiFi network – laptops, tablets, phones, consoles etc – but in the future a lot more devices in our homes will also be active on the network, including speakers, lights, security systems, ovens and even fridges.
What kind of IoT devices are the most popular?
Currently, the most owned IoT devices are things that change the mood and temperature in your home and help to secure your property.
Lighting automation devices are very cheap and easy to start experimenting with first. You can programme them to dim, brighten and switch on and off when you tell them to. You might want to create a mood when watching a certain type of programme on the television.
You might want to time the lights to help wake you and your children up in the morning and begin to dim the lights as they get ready for bed. You could even link your lights to outside sensors so they can change colour or flash when the weather is about to change, giving you the opportunity to get the wash in before your clothes get wet.
Smart thermostats are a popular addition to modern homes too. They allow you to control the temperature in your home from your smartphone, wherever you are. You can warm your home up so it’s nice and cosy when you return from a cold dog walk.
You can switch off your heating from the office if you forget to do it during the morning rush, helping to conserve vital energy. Or you can just joyously control the whole thing from your sofa in front of the telly and reap the rewards while barely moving a muscle.
IoT security devices are also very popular for smart home early adopters. If you have your hands full after doing the ‘big shop’, you can have the doors unlock as you approach. If you get paranoid at the office that you didn’t double-lock the front door, you can open the app and do it from your desk.
You can have surveillance cameras placed around your property to deter unwanted visitors and communicate with any other visitors via your phone from wherever you are in the world.
IoT uses and solutions
The Internet of Things comes in useful in many walks of life, including: wearables, smart homes, healthcare, industrial, retail and transport.
- You can wear watches that communicate movement, heart rate and other physiological attributes to enhance yourself. You can even buy smart socks which translate data to your smartphone.
- Smart homes can help you save on energy bills, modify your home to your exact requirements and keep you safe and secure.
- Devices can remind you when to take your medication, when to slow down or when to get exercise. They can also notify the authorities in case of an emergency.
- Manufacturing equipment can inform you when a part needs replacing or they’ve performed a potentially defective operation without you needing to work it out it for yourself.
- Smart fridges can tell you when you will run out of milk and add groceries to your shopping list.
- And driverless cars can analyse traffic maps and get you across town in the most efficient manner possible without you lifting a finger.
Consumer applications of the Internet of things
The first thing we think about when we consider how the Internet of Things will affect us are smart homes and self-improvement devices, like smart watches and smart trainers.
Remember, the foundation of any reliable smart home is a good internet connection the faster the better and a high-quality router.
Solid IoT architecture is at the heart of everything good the Internet of Things can achieve. Let us explain…
The building blocks of all IoT architecture
All the ‘Things’ in the IoT are built by different manufacturers with different reputations, systems and priorities. Because of that, there isn’t a universal way to control each system or one law that governs the IoT. However, the ‘architecture’ of each system is very similar.
Firstly, your IoT device will collect its data usually through a sensor or actuator. This data will be sent to a ‘data acquisition system’ that processes, aggregates and measures the information ready for analysis. The third step involves ‘edging it’. In basic terms it means further processing the data and enhanced analysis. Lastly, all this information is stored locally or in an IoT cloud where it can be accessed to fulfil its purpose.
A great example of IoT architecture in action
Healthcare is an industry that has adopted IoT systems to help monitor elderly patients. Case in point: if an elderly person with little technical prowess or home help suddenly has a change in their condition, sensors attached to their body will detect it, send the information to data acquisition processors that analyse it, then enhance it and send it to the IoT cloud to alert emergency services and medical practitioners.
What is IoT security?
IoT security can help prevent you from handing over your personal information to the wrong people (who pretend to be legitimate companies).