The Internet of Things, or IoT in short, is the concept of connecting physical objects to the internet. When it comes to internet connectivity, most people think of mobile phones, tablets and computers, but just about anything can be connected from cars to coffee machines, buildings to heart monitors and more.
These connected devices can transfer data easily among themselves. They can communicate about their status and environment, making everything possible from asset tracking and condition monitoring to autonomous cars. IoT brings about a world where practically any ordinary object can talk with one another, turning them into “smart” devices.
Previously “dumb” objects can now become “smart”. We can equip them with cameras and microphones to give them eyes and ears, while their sensors give them the ability to interpret the world around them. They can collect, share and act on data and information, and they can do most of the work without human interaction. Yet, people can also be added to their network to give them instructions or access their data.
This way no device works in isolation any more but is joined to an IoT ecosystem. With smaller and more powerful sensors and chips becoming widely available, almost any product can be connected to the network. A gateway or other edge device is connected to this ecosystem, sending data to the cloud to be analysed.
How far we’ve come in IoT
The term “Internet of Things” was first mentioned in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, the co-founder of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, but the idea of connected devices has been around since the 1970s.
One of the first of these connected devices was a Coca-Cola vending machine at the Carnegie Mellon University from 1982. Using micro switches, IT students could check the inventory levels of the machine and get reports about the temperature of the newly loaded drinks.
Connected devices were first referred to as using machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, where machines were connected via a network without any human interaction. Evolving from that, today’s IoT connects people, systems and other apps via a sensor network of smart devices to collect and share data. According to forecasts, there will be more than 64 billion IoT devices by 2026, compared to the approximately 10 billion of them installed in 2018.
As a giant and constantly growing network of connected things, IoT has the power to transform the way we live and do business. Just as we are getting used to our smart homes and connected cars, IoT is becoming business as usual. Companies and organisations across the world are seeing the benefits of IoT, and for many of them it’s no longer a case of whether or not to implement it, but how. In its 2019 edition,Vodafone IoT Barometer explains the significant acceleration in IoT adoption. Emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence and 5G are also opening up whole new possibilities in the IoT arena.
How IoT impacts us
Because of the vast impact it has on our lives, many see the Internet of Things as the driver of the next Industrial Revolution. Connected devices can shape the way we live, work, travel and entertain, leading us to the next stage of evolution in technology and culture.
With IoT anything that can be connected, will be connected, bringing about endless possibilities in our everyday and professional lives. Vodafone IoT has already helped many organisations in various industries achieve their ambitions.