What is IoT? Everything you need to know about the Internet Of Things.

Updated: Sep 12



The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the

world that are now connected to the Internet, all collecting and sharing data. The

advent of ultra-cheap computer chips and the prevalence of wireless networks have

made it possible for everything from the smallest of pills to the largest of airplanes to

be part of the IoT. Connecting all these different objects and adding sensors gives

devices a level of digital intelligence that otherwise would not work, allowing them to

communicate real-time data without human involvement. The Internet of Things is

making the world around us smarter and more responsive by merging the digital

and physical universes.


Almost any physical object can be turned into an IoT device if it can be connected to

the internet and controlled or sent information.


A lightbulb that can be switched on using a smartphone app is an IoT device, as is a

motion sensor or a smart thermostat in your office or a connected streetlight. An IoT

device could be as fluffy as a child's toy or as serious as a driverless truck. Some larger

objects may themselves be filled with many smaller IoT components, such as a jet

engine that's now filled with thousands of sensors collecting and transmitting data

back to make sure it is operating efficiently. At an even bigger scale, smart cities

projects are filling entire regions with sensors to help us understand and control the

environment.


The term IoT is mainly used for devices that wouldn't usually be generally expected

to have an internet connection, and that can communicate with the network

independently of human action. For this reason, a PC isn't generally considered an

IoT device and neither is a smartphone -- even though the latter is crammed with

sensors. A smartwatch or a fitness band or other wearable device might be counted

as an IoT device, however.


The idea of adding sensors and intelligence to basic objects was discussed

throughout the 1980s and 1990s (and there are arguably some much earlier

ancestors), but apart from some early projects -- including an internet-connected

vending machine -- progress was slow simply because the technology wasn't ready.

Chips were too big and bulky and there was no way for objects to communicate

effectively.


Processors that were cheap and power-frugal enough to be all but disposable were

needed before it finally became cost-effective to connect up billions of devices. The

advent of RFID tags (low-power chips that can communicate wirelessly) has solved

some of these problems. In addition, the availability of broadband internet and

cellular and