What is IoT? (Jan 31, 2018)

What is IoT?

It’s that time where everyone is talking about IoT Internet of Things, what is IoT, how it works, etc.? Here I am putting my thoughts out there in.

So I am going to start off by talking about what Internet of Things really is and clarifying some terms and concepts in order to understand how Internet of things works.

Before we getting into IoT solution let's start by defining exactly what is internet of thing really is.  With IoT, we have everything from Airplane, cars, batteries, light bulb, power outlets, personal wearables all interconnected to the internet and possibly interconnected to each other. But really what is the purpose of connecting an airplane to a microscope or lightbulb?

We need to first understand what Internet of Things is about.

There have been a lot of definitions for IoT. Here is one from Gartner:

The network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and interact with their internal states or the external environment.

This is a very generic definition of IoT. Sure you can have an internet connected device like a refrigerator. The refrigerator can display daily news in the morning or weather report.  

The internet of things is really about much more than just connecting everyday objects to the internet. These are physical devices that have embedded technology. These are not just mobile phone or tablet. These things also have existed for a very long time and as you can see we are talking about how to program these things.

Focus would be on how to leverage the information and data that is generated by these devices and sensors. These sensors have existed in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, in almost all industries that you can think of and forms with their own implementation and how do they commit the data, how do they capture the data.

Now there is an evolution that is happening: when you define IoT and IoT Solution it is a network of all those objects that have embedded technology but also they are communicating and interacting with each other and external environment.

These devices are becoming more intelligent on what they are capturing and how they are communicating to the other solutions.

When you start breaking it down, the internet of things for these devices can be in the following areas:



First, there are things, so there are sensors, there are actual physical devices that will have to have all the capabilities that may or may not have existed, including different kind of communications, different type of storage and many other capabilities that may not have existed because they have been mostly dumb devices.

Second, these devices need to have connectivity. There are different protocols and connectivity that needs to be consider.

And then the most important part is why are we talking about things and their connectivity if we can’t collect Data? What are those devices recording? What are the interaction that is happening between external environment and that device? The data has to be captured. It has to be processed, so that ultimately you can make sense of that data.

And that is when Analytics comes into the picture. Analytics allow you to not only monitor what the things are doing, but as you will see historical data and the whole promise of big data really comes into the picture when you have a historical data and you can do scenario like predictive maintenance, you can do what if analysis of those devices and those environments that they are monitoring.


IoT is not new. IoT are devices that always had these capabilities of capturing data, communicating with other devices with having embedded system inside.

As you can see in this picture, your microwave or your phone or your printer are able to connect to these sources that they provided those vendors provided security cameras that existed.



Fast forward to now, you see this explosion in kind of devices that are now be able to communicate with the rest of devices.



There are also a lot of industrial applications that are using these devices and then you look at the expansion of devices, you do need technologies that help behind it.

Let’s take a look to Computing History:

The internet of things is really the next phase of computing. The phases we've seen in the past include the mainframe era and then even the personal computer or PC revolution. This went through the 1990 and into 2000.

And then pretty much with the release of the iPhone at 2007 we saw the smart phone phase go into full swing.

People are more connected today than ever before, thanks to smart phones, but there is additional connectivity still possible. The technology advancement that led to incredible horizons smart Phone, is now being used to few of the internet of things.

While IoT devices have been around for long time, it is now possible to do many thing that were previously cost prohibitive.

There have been tones of growth for the internet of things in recent years.

This is due to a few key factors around things like developer tools. Programming these embedded systems has become extremely easy to use over the years. This is greatly help reduce overall development times.

Also the internet is everywhere, the ubiquity of internet is such that almost nowhere you go you can't connect to the internet in some fashion. This allows connected devices to be put almost anywhere in the planet.

Microsoft Azure and the cloud have created an ecosystem where it is extremely affordable and easy to build backend systems to power the computing processing and analysis and storage if necessary for all of the collected data by internet of things. The cloud really enables the big data side of IoT.

This all allows from powerful and capable devices to be built that is much smaller and affordable than ever have before. The growth of IoT has been fueled and will continue to be fueled by the fact that these advancements and technology continue to lower the barriers to entry for building IoT devices that can be embedded in almost anywhere.   

Continue with IoT growth looking forward into the feature there are some pretty amazing predictions in the growth of IoT over the next few years.

Gartner has some studies that estimate the entire industry in going to grow over $3+ trillion dollars by 2020 with over 25 billion IoT devices by the year 2020.



Now that we saw the importance and growth of the IoT, let see on the technology level the internet of things is about couple of factors.

First monitoring and collect data over time.

Second, analyzing the data to determine patterns and insights.

As well as using these insights to form prediction on the future.

Ultimately the entire purpose of the internet of things is to enable smarter decision making to the ability to discover insights that previously unable to be seen or we were blind to without the massive data collection and the analysis capabilities possibly even with using machine learning or AI to analyze that data as well.

In this article we saw what Internet of Thing really is and why IoT is becoming popular and its growth factors. In next article we will dive into more technical concepts of an internet of things solution.




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