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What is the Internet of Things and 5 other questions answered

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has been the buzzword among inventors and entrepreneurs alike in the past few years. What is the Internet of Things? How does IoT work and what are its applications and limitations?

Read on to find out.

What is the Internet of Things?

Internet of Things or IoT is a network of hardware devices communicating with each other to establish a system that achieves a particular functionality. These devices can be anything from light bulbs to smart cars or even something as common as a padlock.

A lot of sensors, embedded electronics smart lightbulbs and even smart cars are getting connected to the internet lately. This allows you to read or control these devices remotely. This also creates more abilities for the ecosystem to integrate with the real world.

Also read: What is cryptojacking? How to detect and prevent it

How does IoT work?

An IoT ecosystem consists of physical smart devices that communicate with each other via some form of connectivity. This connectivity, in most cases, is a cloud or an IoT platform. This IoT platform is responsible for establishment and decision making.

The sensors in the embedded electronics or smart devices send data to the cloud, where this IoT platform reads the data and makes decisions according to preprogrammed instruction. We as users are presented with an app or an online dashboard where we can monitor or control these devices.

What is an IoT platform?

An IoT platform bridges the gap between device sensors and data network. It is a set of components that allows developers to distribute their apps, collect data remotely, manage sensors and most importantly ensure secure connectivity. In a nutshell, it allows for more insight the into data communication between the sensor and the cloud.

In a nutshell, an IoT platform manages the connectivity of all the devices connected to its domain, ensuring an uninterrupted flow of data between the devices. This allows developers to build new mobile/web apps and online dashboards for data monitoring and control. An IoT platform also ensures connection stability and allows for business transformation and scalability.

Related read: 9 IoT Security Solutions to safeguard your network

Applications of the Internet of Things

IoT offers widespread applications across corporates, industries and homes alike. IoT can help organisations reduce cost through improved process efficiency, resource utilisation and enhanced productivity.

In industries, IoT is already being used to improve production processes by adding embedded electronics into production machines that closely monitor and control various factors like speed, temperature, humidity etc. This allows for maximum efficiency.

Among corporates, IoT has provided multiple security benefits. IoT enabled biometric scanners to update and log incoming traffic in real time as well as allow managers to monitor data in real time.

Temperature sensors are being used to control office temperatures to maintain an optimal value that increases employee productivity. Various automation systems help cut down on electricity consumption.

IoT is also making smart homes a reality. Amazon and Google have already come up with amazing personal assistant devices that can control basically everything from lightbulbs across your house to locking doors, controlling temperature and more. This new implementation allows for greater security and control over one’s home.

Also read: Alexa! How safe am I? A look at the dark side of smart tech

Benefits of IoT

IoT offers many benefits for individual and organisations alike.

  • IoT encourages communication between all sorts of devices
  • Allows for better exchange of information and data between devices
  • Allows easy automation and control of almost all kinds of gadgets
  • Data monitoring has become easier
  • Saves a lot of time and money
  • Eventually provides for a better quality of living

Challenges of the Internet of Things

As amazing as IoT is, it comes with its own set of challenges.

  • Not all devices can be made compatible with the IoT framework. This may include some essential device which might rule out IoT as an option for a specific industry.
  • The complexity of an IoT network increases as the number and types of devices supporting it grows. This leads to more possible points of failure and increases debugging time.
  • IoT is also a huge privacy/security threat. A notorious hacker can invade your network from something as simple as a smart lightbulb. From there on, it becomes effortless for them to invade other devices or even take over the whole network and control your house virtually.
  • Use of IoT also leads to the lesser employment of menial labour. This further causes unemployment and what not.

Related read: 4 critical security threats the IoT boom poses

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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