It’s likely you’ve heard reference of the ‘Internet of Things’ but the conversation has progressed to the point where you’re embarrassed to ask exactly what that is. Don’t concern yourself, you’re not alone. However, it’s likely that the Internet of Things, or IoT, is already affecting your life and will continue to do so more comprehensively in the future, so it’s best to get a grasp on this subject now.
A Guide to the Internet of Things
What is the Internet of Things?
Essentially, IoT is the connecting of absolutely any device which comes with an on/off switch to the internet, and ultimately, to each other. This includes the obvious – smartphones, tablets and computers – but extends throughout your home and office space, as well as further afield. Coffee makers, washing machines, lamps, home heating and cooling systems, jet engines and oil rig drills will all be cleverly interconnected and activated remotely.
What has prompted this?
With the expansion of broadband and fibre internet which is becoming more accessible across the globe, prices related to connectivity are decreasing while devices with Wi-Fi capabilities are increasing. This has created the ideal situation for the growth of IoT.
What are some of the major impacts the Internet of Things will have?
We need to start preparing for the reality that any devices that can be connected, will eventually be connected. At the moment, your computer can talk to your printer and your computer can talk directly to the sound system throughout your house, but this is set to get so much bigger. Your car, calendar and network of contacts can become interconnected so that your self-driving car will be able to determine the fastest route for your meeting and alert your intended contact about any delays. Your alarm clock could alert the coffee maker, washing machine and dishwasher to all get started the moment you awake. It could also turn on your geyser, ensuring you have sufficient warm water for a shower without wasting energy. A wearable device could monitor your vitals and alert your medical practitioner about any emergency. The health benefits within the medical field are endless. This network of interconnected things will continue to grow on a daily basis extending to a concept known as ‘smart cities’. Here, refuse removal, powering of cities and general communication will all be monitored and controlled using IoT.
How will the Internet of Things affect business?
The impact on industries will obviously differ across the board but, as it stands, manufacturing is considered the most advanced in IoT as it’s used for tracking and organising tools, machines and people. The farming industry is also using the IoT for livestock and agriculture with sensors monitoring activity and growth as a means to boost production. There will be overall affects for various industries such as this improved monitoring of data, cheaper energy and production, improved productivity, remote work because of cloud-hosted software and even the disappearance of some companies which become redundant.
What are some of the concerns?
It’s actually difficult for us to comprehend the impact IoT will have on our lifestyles in the future and it’s fun to imagine the potential changes that await us but there are some challenges that come with this interconnected world. The biggest one is security. With so many devices being connected, it’s difficult to imagine how security will be maintained. Privacy and the impact of data-sharing, already a concern in modern times, are also major factors. Storage space is another aspect that will have to be investigated because, with the massive volume of data now available, organisations will have to monitor, analyse and store this information.
- Internet of Things device – A stand-alone, internet-connected device that can be monitored and/or controlled from a remote location.
- Internet of Things ecosystem – all components that enable businesses, governments, and consumers to connect to their IoT devices.
- Remotes – enable entities that use IoT devices to connect with and control them using a dashboard, such as a mobile application.
- Dashboard – displays information about the IoT ecosystem to users and enables them to control their IoT ecosystem.
- Analytics – software systems that analyse data generated by IoT devices.
Data storage – place where data from IoT devices is stored.
- Networks – the internet communication that enables the entity to communicate with their device.
IoT and Fibre
The world of technology, internet and communications is evolving rapidly and, with the correct application, is set to make life incredibly interesting and vastly accommodating. Terminology like ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Fibre Optics’ are fast becoming commonplace but it’s important to know exactly how they will be affecting everyday life…very soon. Here’s a breakdown of the service and the overall impact.
What is Fibre Optic?
Fibre optic cables are replacing all previous internet connections with enhanced speed and reliability. The cables, created out of a glass or special plastic fibre, make up the ‘nervous system’ of internet connectivity, with the material harnessing the speed of light and transferring data at incredible speeds. Dark fibre is the dormant cabling that is yet to be activated with connectivity options referred to as fibre to the node (FTTN) – fibre connection to the general area – and fibre to the premises (FTTP) – which is fibre optic cabling directly to a building.
How will Fibre Optic Benefit IoT?
The rollout of fibre optic brings everybody one step closer to the futuristic Internet of Things way of life. Here are some of the impacts of fibre optic on IoT.
1. Enhanced bandwidth
Smart devices will be constantly updating their statuses which means multiple streams of data being disseminated throughout the day. While the data from one device may be small, data from several devices could create a problem with slow internet capability. The IoT requires second-to-second information updates if it’s going to work. Alerts from security or fire alarms – as well as medical emergencies – need to be disseminated instantaneously. Traffic and weather updates, if not in real-time, are completely ineffective. Therefore, seamless integration of all smart devices is pivotal to the realisation of IoT. The enhanced bandwidth and reliability of fibre optics makes IoT the perfect partner.
2. Fibre sensors
Fibre optics provide the actual sensor needed for IoT applications. The cables can measure across a wide frequency band and have enhanced light transmission performance, making them the ideal form of transmission where sensitivity and high performance are called for.
3. Beyond the home
While the IoT will impact consumer directly within the home, the bigger picture is much more interesting and it requires wholly on a reliable internet connection such as fibre optics. Factories and warehouses will implement the IoT for the control of machines – these potentially hazardous situations require reliability in data transmission. This means a definite implementation of fibre optics across the industrial sector as well.
The impact of fibre optics on IoT is substantial and brings us one step closer to this reality. Reliability and speed are key to the efficient implementation of IoT and fibre optics are the first real solution available today.
As leading communications and business fibre partner in South Africa. ECN offers a broad set of cost effective voice, data and hosted services to meet our customers ever growing technological needs. Our market leading Fibre for business provides our customers with the option of replacing their existing voice service provider to substantially reduce their monthly telecommunications bill. Contact ECN today for leading telecommunications solutions.