A Guide to the Internet of Things (IoT)

A Guide to the Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of things

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.

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.

Andy Openshaw discusses the Internet of Things in Telecommunication Trends 2017

What has prompted this?

With the expansion of broadband 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.

Useful terminology:

  • 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.

This useful guide is brought to you by ECN. ECN is a leading telecommunications 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 voice solutions provide 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.

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