What Is the Internet of Things?
The year was 1999 and Kevin Ashton was pitching an idea to the execs of Procter & Gamble for “radio-frequency identification;” allowing computers to manager “all individual things.” The practice wasn’t necessarily new but what Ashton coined at the time was. Since the Internet was all the rage during this time, he called his idea the “Internet of Things” (IoT for short) to grab the attention of the execs. Little did they know that over 10 years later, the Internet of Things would be one of tech’s biggest markets.
There is a range of definitions across the web for IoT; all varying to a degree in complexity. At DataGroup Technologies, we define IoT as “extending the power of the internet beyond computer and smartphones on a whole range of things, processes, and environments.”
The broad definition is on purpose as IoT is a conglomerate of different machines communicating with each other to complete a task. An IoT optimized device has the capacity to connect to the internet in any way and is integrated with technology such as sensors, functional software, network support connections, and actuators.
Let’s take IoT in agriculture as an example.
It’s no secret that the human population is booming, but our natural resources cannot keep up with the supply and demand. A fully optimized farm can help mitigate the demand by producing more supply without negatively impacting the environment.
Irrigation systems enhanced with IoT sensors and network capabilities are able to monitor the soil quality and saturation level, evenly distributing water across the fields. An internet connection allows the irrigation system to keep track of reported weather patterns to plan for when crops need to be watered and when to save that water.
Further IoT upgrades enable farmers to reduce waste and enhance productivity. Now farmers can compute the quantity of fertilizer needed to cover their fields and reduce waste percentage, track staff performance and equipment efficiency, obtain crop health analysis, track livestock, create controlled climate greenhouses, and use predictive analysis to plan future crop production rate, storage, and risk management.
Farmers are able to collect data from anywhere at anytime on the state of their farms. IoT is a driving force for increasing agricultural production in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.
The Market Reaction
The concept and history of IoT begins before Kevin Ashton coined the phrase in 1999. The idea of connected devices often called “embedded internet” or “pervasive computer” had been around since the 70’s. What concepts and ideas needed was for technology to advance with our technological abilities. A little over 10 years after Ashton coined “Internet of Things” the phrase quickly latched on and soon spread like wildfire.
In the summer of 2010, information on Google’s StreetView service had leaked. Not only had the tech giant’s project captured data of the physical world with its 360-degree pictures, but had also collected and stored tons of data related to people’s WiFi networks. That same year, the Chinese government stated that it would make IoT a priority in their Five-Year-Plan; a plan we can see as a success in China as it stands as one of the most IoT optimized countries in the world.
Growth came at a rapid pace as conferences such as the Consumer Electronics Show, and tech publications such as Wired and Forbes, began to normalize the phrase in their terminology and popularize it among businesses and consumers.
If you’ve never heard of IoT before, chances are you’ve at least purchased a product in the last 5 years that utilizes what IoT can do. There are a wide variety of IoT products flooding the market right now, all with the goal of optimizing your lifestyle with technology.
Here is a rudimentary list of different types of IoT products you can find:
- Biometric systems
- Smart homes
- Smart security systems
- Wearable health monitors
- Smart irrigation and agricultural systems
- Smart cities
- Shipping container and logistics tracking
If you have purchased new electronics recently, chances are you’re assembling a smart home. Products like refrigerators with built-in monitors, voice command lights, indoor security cameras that will stream a live feed straight to your devices, or even your Amazon Alexa, which helps find new items on Amazon, play music, or even turn your lights on.
All of these products and more are collecting data and monitoring your commands. They are communicating and connecting with the internet to provide optimized services for you. If you think this is all too good to be true, then you’re right, as there are substantial pros and cons to IoT services and products.
The Pros and Cons of IOT
Among the advantages of IoT, you have:
- Improved communication and interaction between devices, and between devices and people.
- Strong monitoring features
- Instant data access and documentation
- Automation of workflow
- Improved service efficiency and time management
- Company cost savings
On the flip side, you have:
- No international compatibility standard
- Increased complexity of IoT services
- Growing lack of privacy
- Increased chances of cybersecurity risks
- Reduction of jobs in the market, thus higher unemployment rates
Automation of workflow with improved service efficiency leads to a reduction of jobs and employment. Smart home devices that are not properly secured and encrypted by companies and consumers are a hacker’s playground.
The Future of IOT
Statista predicts the number of IoT-connected devices to reach 75.44 billion by 2025, a 60 billion increase from metrics reported in 2015.
“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”
Samsung later addressed the situation and edited the policy. No reports of abused or misused captured audio have been filed and Samsung states that it adheres to “industry-standard security safeguards and practices,” but concerns are still present in consumers.
IoT is the future of technology, from smart homes and smart cities to monitoring devices for your health and your car. Yet, public safety from cyber attacks and unauthorized data access will be a crippling addition to the growth of IoT. As more reports come out about the growth in spending and development of IoT, businesses and consumers should be made aware of the potential cybercrimes.
Here at DataGroup Technologies, we’re dedicated to continued research and understanding of all technological growth to improve our range of IT services and security. If you’re thinking about including more IoT devices in your business, give DataGroup Technologies a call to make sure your business is secured and ready to upgrade in the future.