What is IoT? Learning about the Internet of Things


The idea of the Internet of Things has been floating around discussion circles since the late 1980's – in fact the idea of the internet connected toaster was first put forward in 1989. However, it is only recently that the idea has started to become a reality.

The IoT is a simple idea, but one that has not been possible until recently – allowing the devices we use to communicate with one another over the internet. The example most used by people is that of the 'smart fridge'. Imagine that the fridges in our homes could understand whether they were empty, or if they had products past their use-by date. They could then communicate with other devices, our phones for instance, and let us know that we needed to buy more food.

How Will IoT Affect Me?

While the Internet of Things seems like it is just a concept currently, it will soon come to affect most of our lives subtly and constantly. Of course different industries will be affected differently – perhaps not how one would think though:

  • Farmers have started to use it to monitor their crops and their animals. It is hoped that increased communication between their sensors will improve the efficiency of their work, and make it easier to keep their crops healthy.
  • The Healthcare industry is making use of connected ideas too. Smart patches can monitor the health of a patient and report back to the hospital, smart pills can report on the health of a patient from inside them.
  • Smart energy meters in homes allow users to be more exact on their household spending, and keep track of how and when they use fuel.
Tech companies are, unsurprisingly, working hard to maximise the potential of the IoT. For example, SAP have created 'Leonardo' solutions to facilitate the connection of devices to one another. SAP promise that their Leonardo Apps make it easier to create smart products, and from these smart products create a network to maximise efficiency.


Is IoT safe?

Digital security is a major worry in the modern world – we send out our data online every day, and every day we read stories of hackers trying to get access to our private information.

Connected devices are capable of sharing our information with one another, and all of these devices collect large amounts of data about us. If hackers could access the network in which your devices communicate, they might be able to access potentially important information about you – such as when you are at home and when you are not.

Currently, however, there is not much cause for concern. As few people are currently making use of interconnected devices, there are not many hackers attempting to gain access to them. This is not to say that this will always be the case. The IoT is a major part of our future, and as time passes, it will need to be monitored and protected ever more carefully.

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