What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things (IoT) may not be a new concept. But it is indeed a widely discussed topic among the masses from various technical, economic and social backgrounds. So what is the IoT? and why is it so important in our lives today?

In a nutshell, the IoT technology means - injecting the power of Internet connectivity and data analytics into consumer appliances, automobiles, sensors, industrial and utility components, and other everyday products to innovatively transform the way we live and work.

This transition towards the IoT era is driving consumers towards a vision known as the “smart home’’; offering enhanced security, flexibility, and energy efficiency. Moreover, focusing on healthcare, personal IoT devices such as wearable health monitoring devices and network-based medical devices are adding to the rapid transformation; boosting the quality of living. In a similar manner, IoT based vehicles, traffic systems, and sensors installed in roads and bridges effectively help us inch closer to the idea of “smart cities’’ which minimizes the overall traffic congestion and energy consumption in cities.

Thus, with a bunch of network-based sensors and devices, IoT injects innovation across diverse industries, as well as agricultural realms.

Benefits of IoT

  • improved efficiency

    Unprecedented Level of Efficiency in Operations

    As the IoT provides real-time and intelligent operational insights, enterprises can make smarter business decisions and effectively reduce their operational costs. The real-time data received from actuators and sensors help them monitor and improve the efficiency of their business-critical operations; while reducing the energy costs and minimizing human intervention.

  • improved efficiency

    Enhanced Visibility and Protection of Assets

    IoT offers an enhanced level of visibility and real-time insights for enterprise as well as consumer assets. Leveraging the power of sensors and tracking devices, organizations and consumers can effectively locate their assets with ease.

  • improved efficiency

    Better Customer Experience

    With the level of flexibility and security offered by the IoT technology, it is obvious that the users can operate the connected devices in a seamless and hassle-free manner. Today, businesses and consumers can have full control over their devices with the simple touch of a finger.

    However, as the IoT arena is still undergoing a maturing phase, there exist certain underlying issues and challenges that need to be considered in order to reap its full potential.

What are the Key Challenges in IoT?

While the possibilities of IoT are enormous, below mentioned are the key challenges that need to be addressed to make a headway in the technology.

Key Challenges in IoT

Security It is a well-accepted fact that the IT arena is always exposed to a wide array of security and privacy issues round the clock. But, when it comes to the IoT, these issues scale up to a new and unique level of complexity that has to be considered as a top priority—to maintain the integrity of the connected devices, and services. To be specific, the interconnected nature of IoT devices clearly highlights the fact that every poorly secured device connected online potentially affects the security and resilience of the Internet in its entirety. Moreover, instances such as the wide-scale implementation of IoT devices, deploying those devices in unsecured environments, and the ability of few devices to automatically connect to each other adds to the overall complexity in terms of security.

Consequently, even a minor loophole in the IoT device security can expose critical data and pave a path for numerous cyber attacks. Thus, it is crucial for developers and users of IoT devices to establish a collaborative approach to address the IoT security challenges.

Privacy The gist of a successful Internet of Things (IoT) implementation lies in formulating a stringent strategy that best aligns with the privacy expectations. Offering Privacy rights to IoT users effectively help establish reliability in the Internet, connected devices, and services. Moreover, this step redefines the way personal data is collected, analyzed, used, and protected, while still staying updated with new technology and services available in the marketplace.

Interoperability and Standards When it comes to IoT, users can reap the maximum benefits of the proprietary device implementations are done in a fragmented manner. This stages an enhanced level of integration flexibility, low ownership complexity, and no vendor lock-in periods.

On the other hand, poorly designed or configured IoT devices may have a negative impact on the overall connectivity of Internet-based architecture. Thus, considering appropriate standards, reference models, and best practices will help address this risk innovatively. Implementing generic, open, and widely available standards (Internet Protocols) for IoT devices and services will carve a productive path towards innovation and enhanced user benefits.

What are the Different Types of IoT Communication Models?

With unique wide-scale characteristics, the IoT technology uses 4 types of connectivity models to operate: Device-to-Device, Device-to-Cloud, Device-to-Gateway, and Back-End Data-Sharing. These models effectively portray the way in which IoT devices connect with each other and perform in a collaborative manner.

  • improved efficiency


    A Device-to-device communication model stages a platform that enables two or more devices to directly connect and communicate with each other. The devices can communicate over various types of networks—which includes IP networks and the Internet.

    Ideally, this model is implemented in home automation systems - to transfer small data packets of information between devices at low data rates. For instance, devices such as light bulbs, door locks, and thermostats can send small packets of information to each other.

  • improved efficiency


    A Device-to-cloud communication model involves IoT devices connecting directly to an Internet cloud service to exchange data and control message traffic. This allows the user or an application to gain remote access to the connected IoT devices. Adding an extra layer of flexibility, this model not only uses Ethernet or Wi-Fi connections, but it can also use cellular networks.

  • improved efficiency


    The Device-to-Gateway model enables IoT devices to connect to an intermediary device to gain access to a cloud service. In simple terms, the model involves application software operating on a local gateway device such as a smartphone that connects the IoT devices with a cloud service. Moreover, this software provides essential features for the devices to work seamlessly—such as security, and more.

  • improved efficiency

    Back-End Data-Sharing

    By implementing the Back-End Data-Sharing model, IoT users can export and analyze smart object data from a cloud service while combining them with the data from other sources. Simply speaking, they have the ability to send those data to third-party services for analysis, visualization, aggregation, big data analytics, and predictive analytics.

    By implementing the Back-End Data-Sharing model, IoT users can export and analyze smart object data from a cloud service while combining them with the data from other sources. Simply speaking, they have the ability to send those data to third-party services for analysis, visualization, aggregation, big data analytics, and predictive analytics.

What is IoT Analytics?

As more and more devices get connected to each other, the amounts of data being generated and consumed are increasing exponentially. Embedded with intelligent data analysis tools, IoT Analytics help analyze and gain meaningful insights from these massive volumes of data; just like big data analytics.

The Future of IoT

According to Gartner, the IoT is making a positive impact worldwide. The research firm projects that around 8.4 billion IoT powered devices will be used worldwide by the end of 2017; rising up from 31 percent in 2016. The figures are expected to reach a staggering 20.4 billion mark by 2020.

Moreover, Gartner states that the consumer segment is the largest user of IoT—with 5.2 billion units in 2017. This represents 63 percent of the overall number of IoT applications currently in use. On the other hand, enterprises are expected to deploy around 3.1 billion connected things by the end of 2017. Peter Middleton, Research Director at Gartner points out: 

Aside from automotive systems, the IoT applications that will be most in use by consumers will be smart TVs and digital set-top boxes, while smart electric meters and commercial security cameras will be most in use by businesses.

To Sum Up...

It is no brainer that the Internet of Things (IoT) is filling the void between devices, and the internet—ushering new and innovative ways that help them communicate with each other securely. In years to come, with the emergence of new devices and practices, IoT will completely reinvent the concept of ‘being online’.

Originally published , updated March 15 2018