The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) refers to a network of physical things or objects that are embedded with software, sensors, actuators, electronics along with internet connectivity. This allows these ‘things’ to perform better by connecting, interacting and exchanging data with other connected devices.
IoT basically describes a world where almost any physical object can be connected digitally and made to communicate in an intelligent manner over the internet without requiring human-to-human or human-computer interaction. That’s to say that with IoT, the physical world is fast becoming a one big information system. The ‘thing’ in IoT could include a vast range of physical factors including humans, farm animals, machines, automobiles, homes (as in SMART homes), wearable devices, etc.
The ‘thing’ could also refer to a heart monitor implant in a human, built-in sensors in a vehicle, biochip transponders in a farm animal, smart buildings that have sensors to control energy needs, smart farming systems that monitor temperature, humidity and soil moisture of crop fields or even wearable devices that can guide you through the fastest routes or track construction workers. The embedded web-enabled smart devices in these ‘things’ have an assigned IP address and can gather pertinent data which is then transferred over a network and analyzed, thus contributing to improved decision making.
IoT has evolved from machine-to-machine communication over a network without any human interaction. Today, IoT has become a network of billions of smart devices connecting people, systems and numerous other applications to collect and share data. This has led to many industries and organizations working more efficiently with enhanced customer service, improved business outputs, improved safety and improved decision making. It has also enhanced employee productivity, improved monitoring of business processes, increased savings on time and money as well as led to greater revenue generations.
IoT enhances businesses in the manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, oil & gas, telecommunication, and retail sectors by providing them with tools to improve process efficiency, asset utilization, and better outputs. It improves tracking of embedded devices with sensors hooked to the internet, thereby providing real-time inputs of data which help in making smarter decisions.
With IoT connecting billions of devices to the network with billions of data points, there is an expanded surface open to cyber attacks. Since all the IoT devices are closely interconnected, it makes IoT security a major issue. All a hacker needs to do is to hack into one vulnerability, and all the data can become compromised. Users need to be vigilant and update their devices regularly to stay safe from cybercriminals.