"Define the internet of things" is among the most searched questions on Google. Over the past two decades, the Internet of Things (IoT) has gained momentum as one of the most critical technologies in the 21st century.
Today, we can connect everyday objects like washroom appliances, cars, baby monitors, thermostats, etc., to the Internet with the help of IoT. Experts have claimed that there are more than 10 billion connected IoT devices spread worldwide, which is expected to grow to more than 22 billion by 2025.
But, what exactly is the Internet of Things, and why is it so important? Let's find out!
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
To define the Internet of Things, we need to understand its history. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the idea of adding sensors and digital intelligence to physical objects was explored.
However, the progress was slow because technology hadn't advanced it. The computer chips were too big and expensive, and there was no possible way for objects to communicate efficiently.
The Internet of Things, commonly referred to as IoT is a complex system of interconnected physical computing devices embedded with software, sensors, and other technologies.
Each IoT device is provided with Unique Identifiers (UIDs) that allow them to collect and exchange data over a network without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT devices can range from simple household objects (washing machines, kitchen appliances, bright lights) to more sophisticated industrial tools.
Organizations in different industries are increasingly using IoT technology to operate more productively, improve decision making, increase the value of the business, and understand customers to deliver quality customer support.
Although IoT technology has many aspects, it was only due to the arrival of super-cheap computer chips and wireless networks that it was possible to turn any device into a part of the Internet of Things.
Connecting all IoT devices and adding sensors to them equips a level of digital intelligence to these devices. It allows them to communicate real-time data over a network without human intervention.
Thanks to the Internet of Things, the fabric of the world around us is becoming more thoughtful and responsive by merging the digital and physical worlds. It is also making our lives much more accessible.
Examples of Internet of Things (IoT) Device
Any physical object or "thing" can be turned into an Internet of Things (IoT) device if it can be connected to the Internet and controlled to communicate information. Here are some examples of IoT devices operating in the physical world:
1. A car with built-in sensors can alert the driver if gas leaks or the tire pressure is low.
2. A lightbulb in your bedroom can be switched on with an app installed on your smartphone.
3. Traffic lights in intelligent cities are usually controlled with the help of an IoT system deployed for traffic management.
4. A smart thermostat in your office can be regulated by pushing a button.
The earliest example of IoT devices is the Internet-connected vending machines.
Why is IoT Important?
The Internet of Things is essential because it makes our lives simpler, helps us live and work more intelligently, and automates our day-to-day activities. In addition to this, IoT is critical to businesses as well, and it provides companies with an insight into how their systems work, from logistical operations to supply chain.
IoT also helps businesses to automate their business processes and reduce labour costs. It improves service delivery, reduces waste, and introduces transparency in customer transactions.
How Does IoT Work?
The IoT ecosystem comprises Internet-enabled intelligent devices that use a network of embedded systems, like sensors, processors, and hardware, to collect and transfer data from their surroundings. The four components required to form an IoT ecosystem are sensor, application, network, and backend (data centre).
IoT devices share the sensor data they collect by connecting to another IoT gateway or an edge device. This data is analyzed locally or sent to the cloud to explore. In some cases, these IoT devices also interact with other connected devices and act on the information they collect from each other.
What is unique about the IoT ecosystem is that it works entirely independently of human intervention. The only level of human intervention is required when the devices are being set up. The connectivity and communication protocols used by IoT devices depend on the specific IoT applications deployed.
The Internet of Things is so advanced that it can use machine learning and AI to make the data collection process more efficient.
Benefits of IoT to Organizations
As we discussed, IoT has several benefits not only for individuals but also for large organizations. For instance, IoT applications allow businesses to rethink how they approach business decisions and provide the best Internet of Things tools to improve their business strategies.
To define the Internet of Things and its functionality, let's look at some of the benefits it has for businesses and organizations:
1. It improves the customer experience (CX)
2. It allows businesses to monitor their overall business processes with efficiency and increased productivity
3. It saves time, money, and resources
4. It encourages companies to make better business decisions
5. It enhances employee productivity
6. In the long run, it helps businesses generate more revenue
IoT is abundant in industrial fields such as transportation, manufacturing, and utility organizations. In recent years, IoT has also found use cases for agriculture, infrastructure, home automation industries, education, healthcare, finance, retail, and so on. Thanks to the Internet of Things, all these industries are on the way toward digital transformation.
Pros and Cons of IoT
Like any other technological innovation, IoT comes with its own pros and cons. The advantages of the Internet of Things (IoT) include:
1. It automates tasks and helps in enhancing a business' services by reducing the need for human intervention.
2. It improves the connection between electronic devices and allows them to interact with one another over a shared network.
3. It allows us to access data anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
4. By transferring large amounts of data packets over a connected network, IoT saves time and money.
Since it's a highly functional technology that makes lives more accessible, it would be wrong to assume that the Internet of Things doesn't have any cons. Here are some of the cons of IoT:
1. If there is a system bug, every connected device may get corrupted.
2. Eventually, organizations will have to deal with massive numbers of IoT devices and products. Collecting and managing data from all these devices can become more challenging.
3. With the increased number of connected devices and more information being shared between these devices, the possibility of a hacker stealing confidential data also increases.
4. There is no international standard of compatibility for IoT devices yet. It makes it difficult for IoT devices manufactured by different companies to interact with each other.
What is the IoT Testing Strategy?
We must also look at the IoT testing strategy to define the Internet of Things. IoT testing refers to a sub-category of testing to check the functioning of IoT devices. There is a massive global demand to create, access, use, and transfer data through IoT devices. The goal is to provide control and insight into these IoT devices. Thus, IoT testing is essential.
There are different levels of the IoT testing strategy. These include usability testing, reliability testing, compatibility testing, data integrity testing, security testing, and performance testing.
Several companies provide IoT testing frameworks, and AppSierra is one such company. Through simplified procedures, AppSierra validates IoT devices' functionality, performance, and security.
IoT devices have several challenges and obstacles that must be overcome to pave the way for digital transformation. AppSierra's extensive knowledge base and skills can address these challenges efficiently. AppSierra experts use automation and modern simulation tools to test all use cases for IoT devices and find flaws in the system.
If you're looking for an actionable IoT testing framework, consider AppSierra.
Also Read: IoT Trends