IoT – Internet of Things Meaning
What exactly is an Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things refers to any devices or ‘things’ that can be connected either to each other, or to the Internet. If the Internet was originally a way to connect people and allow them to share documents, web pages, video and messages, the Internet of Things is a way to connect other things together.
Connecting things together means they can work together
Once connected, things can share information with each other. The whole point of this is so they can use that information to save time and automate our lives a bit more.
So what is a Thing?
A thing is a device that can do two things:
A good example of a Thing…You’ve probably got one with you now
Your smart phone is a good example of a Thing. It has many sensors built into it that we probably take for granted. Some things your phone can sense are:
- If it’s moved
- What angle it’s at
- If there’s noise around it
- If it’s touched
- Where it is in the world
A Thing also has to be able to communicate, over a wireless network
There’s not much point in a sensitive gadget if it can’t communicate with other devices. As well as being able to sense what’s going on in it’s environment, a Thing also needs to be able to communicate and do something with that data. A Thing needs to be connected to the Internet, normally using WiFi.
It’s all about sensors
A Thing can’t be smart unless it’s got some way to know what’s going on. Smart devices need sensors in order to be able to detect things in their environment. Sensors gather important information about your smart home. Some simple examples of sensors you might find in smart homes might be:
- Presence sensors & motion detectors
- Proximity (using your location from GPS)
- Door sensors
What’s the point in IoT?
There’s been an explosion of smart home devices in recent years, with every thing from lawn mowers to coffee makers getting some kind of intelligent upgrade. If you just want things to be simple and turn on and off, you’re in for a rough time in 2020. So why on earth would you want ‘everything’ to be connected?
If you’re interested in smart home automation, you’ll know there’s a lot more to it than simply using Alexa to play a song, or changing your thermostat temperature with your smart phone.
Quickfire facts about the Internet of Things
- It’s a network of devices all joined together
- It’s used in business as well as smart home automation
- Machines also use to to talk to each other (M2M)
- Devices connect to each other, or to the Internet
- People are included in the ‘things’
Sounds a bit… creepy?
If the idea of your home spying on you creeps you out, that’s understandable. However, it’s important to remember that the info is only used locally by your home. While your Things will be communicating over the Internet, the data is only used by your other Things.
The data is also encrypted so it can’t be hacked.
A really good Ted Talk on the Internet of things
It’s a few years old now, but this is a brilliant guide to what the Internet of things is all about. There’s plenty of examples and it’s one of the better explanations of what it all means, and why you might want to let your things talk to each other.
Hows does IoT work in the smart home?
While the IoT is being taken very seriously in the world of business, with Google, Samsung and every other tech company making big investments into it, here at SmartTechStuff, we’re all about the smart home tech. So what kind of things can the IoT do in your smart home to make life easier.
Because IoT is all about getting devices to talk to each other, there’s a lot more to it than just using your smart phone to turn your light on and off. One device can trigger a series of events and save you a lot of time.
For example, when you’re almost home, your thermostat turns on and starts heating the house, the kettle boils and the lighting turns on.
Or, when you wake up, your bracelet detects you’re no longer asleep, turns on the lights and starts your coffee machine!
Some common smart home devices that can use the IoT include:
- Smart lighting
- Coffee makers / Smart kettles
- Smart Thermostats
- Home security systems
- Smart fridges
- Fitness trackers
- Smart pet trackers
Further reading about ‘What the Internet of Things is and what it can do
How is IoT used in smart home automation?
Sources & References
- Another guide on What is the Internet of Things on the Mckinsey website
- Forbes original description of the Internet of Things is still packed with good insights, despite being a few years old
- Investopedia have a quick guide with some helpful info on the IoT too