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There is no surprise to see the impact IoT has on everything in our lives - from how we travel and do our shopping to the way manufacturers keep track of inventory and healthcare providers take care of at-risk patients.
But what is IoT? And more importantly, what makes it indispensable in this day and age? Hmm…that is a billion-dollar question but worth answering because this technology is here to stay and how!
IoT is a network of interconnected computing devices, digital and mechanical machines, and people equipped with unique identifiers and the capability to transfer data over an internet connection - without any human-to-computer and human-to-human interaction.
A walk down the memory lane
It started in the 1980s when Carnegie Mellon University students built the first internet-connected device. It was a soft drink vending machine that would tell students if the soda was cold enough for them to justifiably get up from their desks to go and grab a can.
Fast forward to the 2020s, IoT devices have certainly gotten smaller. We live fully connected lives filled with internet-enabled devices that learn our preferences and deliver the experiences that make our lives (or professional work) more convenient.
An introduction to IoT-connected devices
Basically, IoT is a giant network connecting "things" and "human beings" - all of which gather and share data in a way they are used and about the environment surrounding them. IoT devices help connect your home, office, or business with the internet.
Examples include an extraordinary number of objects of all sizes and shapes, such as self-driving cars, smart microwaves, wearable fitness tracking devices, connected footballs, and so on. However, that is not all.
Refrigerators, fire alarms, door locks, switches, medical sensors, voice controllers, and security systems have "smartened" up to form a part of the IoT ecosystem powered by advanced communication technologies.
These interconnected devices are equipped with embedded sensors to collect and transmit data. You can analyze data to gain insights and improve business processes or personal efficiency. The data can also be helpful for the preventive maintenance of assets.
A market overview of the IoT-connected devices
The number of IoT devices worldwide is predicted to almost triple to more than 29 billion in 2030 from a mere 9.7 billion in 2020. Reports also suggest there will be approximately 27 billion connected IoT devices by 2025. Nevertheless, there are going to be a lot of devices!
Not so surprisingly, China is at the forefront when it comes to adopting IoT technology. The highest number of IoT-based smart solutions will be found in that country - with the count reaching up to five billion consumer devices. How cool is that?
Major verticals and use cases
The top industry verticals with 100 million+ connected IoT devices are gas, A/C, waste management, transportation and storage, electricity, and government. Media and consumer internet devices are the most significant use cases for IoT devices in the consumer segment.
Other use cases with 1 billion+ IoT devices by 2030 are autonomous vehicles, asset tracking, and monitoring, IT infrastructure, and smart grid.
IoT device network connectivity
There are different types of communication protocols used with IoT-enabled devices. You can pick the right one depending on the IoT application development, power consumption requirement, and internet range and bandwidth.
IoT device network connectivity
MQTT, DDS, CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol), DTLS, and AMQP are some of the popular communication protocols in the market. At the same time, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), IPv6, LPWAN (Low-Power Wide Area Network), Zigbee, Z-Wave, RFID, and NFC are wireless protocols. Other options include satellite, cellular, WiFi, and Ethernet.
IoT devices collect and transmit data through an IoT gateway for storage and analysis. Some devices connect with an edge device to analyze data locally before sending it to the cloud.
For instance, integrated data processing capabilities can be leveraged to minimize the amount of data uploaded to the cloud. Such devices are equipped with Machine Learning (and even Augmented Reality) capabilities to manage the data generated by IoT devices.
Most popular IoT devices to know about
When discussing IoT, it is not hard to think about smartphones and their role when controlling multiple IoT devices. You can use your smartphone to interact with your smart thermostat. For instance, want to set your home to a perfect temperature when you get home from work? You can do that from your phone - while sitting in the office.
IoT devices have mini-computer processors and sensors that act on data gathered through machine learning. You can say that IoT devices are like miniature computers that can connect to the internet but are also vulnerable to hackers and malware.
Without further ado, here are the most popular IoT devices you must know:
1. Google Home Voice Controller
Google Home Voice Controller
This is a smart IoT device that can control various home appliances using your voice. It enables you to remotely handle things, including TV, thermostats, lights, speakers, and alarm clocks.
You can use it to plan and manage your daily to-do lists and set alerts automatically. It also helps you make phone calls and broadcast messages. You can use Google Home to enjoy and control various media, such as songs, movies, and podcasts. The IoT device also processes voice-based searches to give you real-time answers from Google.
2. August Doorbell Cam
August Doorbell Cam
It is an IoT device that provides security for your home. It uses instant motion-triggered alerts to inform you about the changes in your doorway. You can check who is at the door remotely and speak to visitors by simply using your phone.
The camera uses its integrated floodlight to offer clear and colorful HD videos even in the dark. The setup is simple as it uses a USB dock and can be installed using your existing wiring.
3. Apple Watch
A smartwatch is more than just an accessory. It offers an easy way to connect your phone and other IoT-enabled devices. You can use the Apple Watch, for instance, to control the functionality of these gadgets, such as checking messages, getting notifications, attending to phone calls, and replying to texts.
Apple Watch uses applications to track how much time you spend doing things and advises on improving it. They also work as fitness trackers that monitor heart rate, activity, and sleep. The collected data can trigger reminders to sleep or take medicines.
4. Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo is a voice-enabled IoT device that allows you to control smart home devices. It is equipped with a powerful microphone that captures your voice and performs actions as instructed by you.
You can use it to perform voice-based functions such as making calls, playing music, and setting reminders. It also shares real-time information related to weather and traffic. You can adjust the equalizer settings to personalize your listening experience.
5. Foobot Air Quality Monitor
Foobot Air Quality Monitor
Smart air quality monitoring systems help measure indoor pollution levels. They use IoT sensors to detect air quality and can be placed in homes, workplaces, and indoor public spaces.
Foobot Air Quality Monitor, for instance, measures various pollutants, including particulate matter and carbon dioxide, while also keeping a check on humidity and temperature levels. The data collected by the sensors can be used to identify sources of indoor pollution and cleanse the air to ensure you are breathing clean.
6. Nest T3021US Learning Thermostat Easy Temperature Control
Google Nest Learning Thermostat helps control the home's temperature and cooling environment hassle-free. It adapts as per your activities and regulates the room temperature automatically based on your routine.
Google Nest interacts with Alexa for voice control and reads the display across the room. It is compatible with different types of equipment.
7. WeMo Insight Smart Plug
WeMo Insight Smart Plug
WeMo smart plug is an excellent IoT product that helps turn on/off your lights and appliances and offers the ability to monitor them from anywhere remotely. It gets insight into home energy use and is easy to install. WeMo smart plug is compatible with Android and iOS devices. It can integrate with Google or Alexa for hands-free voice control.
8. Particle Photon WiFi with Headers
Particle Photon WiFi with Headers
This is the particle IoT board that provides everything that a user requires for building a connection project. The IoT devices make prototyping easier due to the use of plugins. It has an open-source design, a real-time operating system, and pre-soldered headers.
How IoT-connected devices transform human lives
How IoT-connected devices transform human lives
From connected cars and wearables to IoT-powered homes and public infrastructure, we have quickly embraced technology in our everyday lives. The possibilities of IoT are endless as it continues to evolve and how.
However, there are certain areas where it has made a visible difference. That includes:
1. Smart cities
The rise in urbanization has led to an increase in population in cities. It has also boosted the demand for efficient management of resources and infrastructure. With the rise in climate change, some cities are already witnessing severe weather fluctuations. IoT-based systems help manage the infrastructure better while improving the pace of life.
Street lighting, buildings, and traffic systems can be made energy-efficient. They make transportation systems convenient and safe while using renewable energy sources to reduce carbon emissions. A citywide network of sensors connected through WiFi enables the city to collect data and process it using an analytics platform.
The data retrieved and analyzed can deploy IoT technology for smart water management, automated street lighting, demand-based waste management, tracking weather, checking pollution levels, and smart parking. It helps reduce traffic jams, control pollution, and optimize light, water, and energy usage.
2. Smart agriculture
Farmers leverage IoT technology to improve the quality or yield of their products and control wastage. Using these devices, they can track the consumption of water and fertilizers along with other parameters such as soil quality, humidity, and temperature of the cropland.
By remotely monitoring temperature changes and humidity levels in real-time, farmers can make quick decisions about their crops. These precision agriculture techniques also allow them to automate irrigation and pest control.
Perishable goods can be stored in warehouses under well-monitored temperature and humidity conditions to extend their shelf life and reduce waste.
3. Remote patient monitoring
IoT can help doctors access patient data in real-time and with greater accuracy using wearable IoT devices. Sensors in IoT devices track a person's heart rate and blood pressure, thereby making it easier for medical professionals.
The data gathered is useful for disease diagnosis and recovery processes. These IoT devices also work as robotic assistants to remind patients about their routine and ensure they do not skip medication or regular check-ups.
The accurate functioning of IoT devices
IoT devices can be controlled remotely through uniquely designed monitoring systems and smartphones. Mobile gadgets, for instance, use an application to communicate with smart devices quickly and conveniently.
The sensors on these devices gather data, and the processors use machine learning to use that data to function automatically. The devices use predefined metrics to take action and build a record of your preferences over time.
For example, you can use your smartphone to turn on your bedroom's air conditioner before leaving the office for the day. It ensures you get the right temperature when you reach home.
Using machine learning, your smart device learns the optimum temperature settings, and you can even pre-set a time for it to turn on air conditioning automatically. This eliminates unnecessary cooling, and maintaining a set temperature saves your money on energy costs.
Major components of an IoT system are:
- Sensors and devices to collect data from the environment
- A user interface to display information as actionable insights.
- Data processing software to sort, compare, and analyze the data to derive actionable information
- Connectivity over cellular, satellite, and internet via ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) for transmitting data to the cloud
An introduction to IoT device management
IoT device management involves provisioning, authenticating, configuring, maintaining, monitoring, and diagnosing connected devices which operate in an IoT environment, supporting their functional capabilities.
An effective device management solution keeps the smart assets connected, secure, and updated. The key factors to consider for IoT device management are the size of your network, physical accessibility, and the geographical location of the devices.
You must check and update each device on your network to ensure maximum use of its prowess and intelligence. You must schedule regular firmware updates and security patch downloads to ensure all devices are secure, up-to-date, and in compliance.
Next-generation IoT security innovations
IoT networks and devices are susceptible to security threats and hacking. As a lot of data is transmitted through the IoT network, individuals with malicious intentions may try to steal or manipulate it.
Next-generation IoT security innovations
Several emerging technologies are being used to strengthen the security of IoT applications. These work through different phases to keep the data safe during transfer through encryption and leverage distributed ledgers for storage. The technologies include:
1. Safer signals
IoT devices such as smartwatches and drones determine location information using satellite-based positioning technology.
They play an essential role in mission-critical applications, but the Global Navigation Satellite System used for signal jamming and receiver spoofing hamper their optimal usage.
Authentication services such as Open Signal Navigation Message Authentication (OSNMA) help address the challenge. It emits multiple frequency bands that can be authenticated by receivers eliminating the chance of spoofing.
2. Better protocols
IoT devices are often designed to operate under extreme conditions. They are usually small in size and have to run on minimal power. It is challenging for conventional encryption methods to provide optimum security to these resources.
Object Security for Constrained RESTful Environments (OSCORE) enables a new lightweight security protocol tailored to meet the needs of such power-constrained use cases.
It helps secure messages sent on LPWAN using communication protocols such as CoAP. Reducing the message's size cuts down the bandwidth requirements, thereby helping save the power of the IoT security devices.
3. Advanced technologies
You can train machine learning algorithms to identify abnormal behavior in a device's bandwidth during regular operation. It saves battery power by uploading the algorithm to all devices on the network via firmware update Over-The-Air (FOTA). AI-powered digital twins also help monitor and optimize real-world IoT systems' performance.
4. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)
DLT allows easy storage of encrypted data across various systems. Access to these records can be restricted to authorized personnel only. These systems can act as a digital vault to secure critical information such as patient health records gathered by IoT devices. Owners can keep control of and provide access to their data only to the rightful users.
Over to you
IoT is starting to have a more considerable impact on our lives, and with its evolution, the need for IoT-connected devices will be at the higher end of the scale. Coupled with advanced technologies such as AI and ML, IoT will make processes more innovative, safer, and quicker.
This growth is projected to be accelerated in the coming years owing to the availability of a wider variety of IoT devices and enablement platforms.
If you want to jump on the IoT bandwagon and get cracking on a new IoT app development project, get in touch with IoT experts at Intuz. We have worked on numerous applications across industries and can help you. Get started today!