Imagine you wake up at 8am every day to go to work on time. And, your alarm clock does the job of waking you up on time set. And, if accidentally your metro gets cancelled due to some issues and instead you have to drive to work instead. Driving takes much time as compared to travelling by metros. And, you regret that you should have needed to get up soon to avoid being late.
And then, if it's out pouring with rain, so you'll need to drive slower than usual. A connected or IoT-enabled alarm clock would reset itself based on all these factors, to ensure you got to work on time. It could recognize that your usual train is cancelled, calculates the driving distance and travel time for an alternative route to work, checks the weather and factor in slower travelling speed because of heavy rain, and calculate when it needs to wake you up so you're not late. And, if it's much smarter, if might also sync with an IoT-enabled coffee maker, to ensure that your morning caffeine is ready to go when you get up.
The IoT is changing our lives right from how we drive, to how we make purchases and even how we get energy for our home, and what not? So, as you sensed much hype about IoT, let's have a look on what actually is IoT and how does it work?
IoT (Internet of Things) is a network of connected objects that are able to collect and share data with each other. To define it more precise, IoT consists of all the web-enabled devices that collect, send and act on data they acquire from their surrounding environments using embedded sensors, processors and communication hardware.
IoT is applied everywhere right from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.
Devices and objects with built in sensors are connected to an Internet of Things platform, which integrates data from the different devices and applies analytics to share the most valuable information with applications designed to address the specific needs. The IoT platforms can help to pinpoint exactly what information is useful and what aren't. And, this information can be used to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems before they occur.
Let's have a look on how an IoT system functions:
First, sensors or devices collect minute data from their environment. These data collection could have various complexities as in a simple temperature monitoring or a complex full video feed. Multiple sensors can be bundled together to be a part of a device that does more than just sense things. A smartphone is a device that has multiple sensors (camera, accelerometer, GPS, etc), but the phone is not basically just a sensor. Whether it is a standalone sensor or a complex device, the first step involves data being collected from the environment.
Next, that data is sent to the cloud but it needs a medium for transport. The sensors could be connected to the cloud via various mediums of transports including cellular, satellite, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN). Each option has trade-offs between power consumption, range, and bandwidth. Choosing the best connectivity would be specific to the IoT application. But, it would all be performing just one important task i.e. getting data to the Cloud.
Once the data gets to the cloud, the software performs some kind of processing on it. This could be very simple, like checking that the temperature reading is within an acceptable range. Or it could also be very complex, such as using computer vision on video to identify objects. The information is made useful to the end-user in some way. This could also be via an alert to the user (email, text, notification, etc).
A user might have an interface which allows them to proactively check in on the system. However, it's not always a one-way street. Depending on the IoT application, the user may also be able to perform an action and affect the system. There are some actions performed automatically. By implementing some predefined rules, the system can adjust the settings automatically.
Thus, the hype around IoT is genuine. It is all with the help of IoT, that our day-to-day tasks are automated and made simpler and smarter.