What is the Internet of Things (IoT)

Welcome to SandStorm IT’s 6-part series about the Internet of Things. In this series, we’ll shed some light on the basics of IoT.

Part 1 – What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? (You are here)
Part 2 – Why do I care about IoT?
Part 3 – What are some real-world applications of IoT?
Part 4 – What are the security concerns of IoT?
Part 5 – What devices do I have that connects to IoT?
Part 6 – What is the future of IoT?

The Internet of Things is a collection of physical devices embedded with software and electronics that enable them to exchange messages over the Internet. In many cases, this happens without real-time human interaction. For example, a device that measures the weather around it may store the data that it gathers locally, and then periodically send its data to a server on the Internet for reporting on a larger scale. Once this server receives enough data from many different locations (across, say, a region or nation), it can aggregate the data and report on it. One of the most remarkable attributes of the Internet of Things is its ability to improve human efficiency. Previously, people would have to collect data from devices manually and upload them to a centralized location. This aggregation of data can now be automated by having the devices themselves connected to the Internet rather than connecting people through the devices.

What Else Can Be Done with the Internet of Things?

Mass data collection and aggregation is by no means the only ability the Internet of Things brings to the table. Home automation products allow users to configure their homes with the tap of a button on their smartphones. All you need to adjust your blinds, turn on your lights, or even lock your doors is simply access to the Internet from a compatible device. Similarly, agricultural automation allows farmers to combine data aggregation and mechanical automation to optimize their yields as well as predict their future ones.

How Many Devices Are on the Internet of Things?

As of 2017, the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things was around 20 billion, and that number is expected to grow quite considerably (by a few billion or so every year). You may wonder how all these devices communicate with each other when their brands and functionalities are so diverse. This issue is known as platform fragmentation, and it is one of the largest issues with the Internet of Things. Many technologies have trouble communicating with lower versions of themselves (this is known as backward incompatibility, which may or may not be intentional), due to improvements in the architecture, security, or speed taking priority over backward compatibility. Knowing this, it is easy to see how dozens of products (each with many versions!) from thousands of vendors may have trouble communicating with one another.

What about security?

Our next blog post in this multi-part series, “What are the security concerns of IoT?” will address some of the privacy/security concerns with these types of devices. It will be coming soon, so be sure to check out the blog for the latest content and join the mailing list to receive updates from SandStorm IT.

Overall, the Internet of Things will continue to be one of the most exciting yet challenging technologies of the future. If you have any questions about IoT or any other question regarding technology, feel free to call the experts at SandStorm IT at 901-475-0275.