According to Statista, in 2017, the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded 20 billion. By the end of 2020, the IoT devices will count about 50 billion, Cisco suggests. The Internet of things is not only a helpful kettle that boils water, getting directions from your smartphone or a fridge, which orders the owner’s favorite food on its own. These are smart sensors, drones with cameras, thanks to which you can remotely monitor the condition of soils, these are sensors in public transport and unified systems for monitoring the life of the city. In other words, in a few years, the world around us will become the Internet of things. If you suddenly do not fully understand what it is and how it works, we will explain everything in simple words.
So, what is the Internet of things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) includes several phenomena at once. These are the devices themselves that go online and interact with each other, the M2M (machine-to-machine) connection method, i.e., without human intervention. And, of course, the big data that devices generate. Data that can (and should) be collected, analyzed, and further used to increase comfort or make business decisions.
Where is it used?
Well, everywhere. The IoT is used in any industry where something can be automated. Quite intensively, the IoT is developing in the agricultural sector, logistics, Smart City, where there is a need for remote monitoring of the objects state or big data collection for subsequent analysis. The IoT allows you to save on equipment maintenance: repairs and maintenance are carried out exactly when it is needed because sensors collect information about its condition. Repair is always more expensive than prevention.
The Internet of things helps save lives. New Apple Watch will help calculate arrhythmias and other diseases by monitoring your heart rate constantly.
Here are some examples of the Internet of things in the world.
City transport with displacement sensors, transport routes planning, based on people moving around the city, video surveillance, monitoring the water level in water bodies, noise, and pollution sensors make cities more convenient and safer. The big data that is collected by sensors enables the city authorities to understand the needs of residents better.
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In agriculture, the Internet of things relieves agronomists’ headaches regarding soil conditions. Sensors in the ground record indicators: whether there is enough moisture or plants need nutrition. Drones record from the sky and transmit the data to engineers so that they can quickly assess the data of soil conditions. There is already no need to go around all the fields personally to control the crop and monitor each bug. The Netherlands, being a small country with a high population density, is one of the world leaders in food production, and IoT significantly contributes to success.
Delivery of products from a warehouse or production plant to retail is more predictable these days. It is very important for both consumers and businesses. Logistic companies can track where the vehicle is and when it needs to drive up for loading. In addition to trucks, the IoT solutions are also used in water and air transport. Sensors monitor the condition and position of the cargo, which saves the owners of logistic companies from unnecessary claims and repair costs.
Smart counters record themselves how much energy was consumed this month – no need to run around and read the meters. Some smart home solutions even show how much a particular light bulb or home appliance connected to the network consumes. Smart elevators inform about breakdowns, the heat control systems in the house remotely show the room temperature and can be switched on via a smartphone. For example, if you install such a system in your country house, you can press a couple of buttons in a mobile app and come already to a warm house.
Medical devices connected to the Internet can not only save on treatment, preventing severe cases (since the data is sent to the doctor almost automatically, and you can identify the causes of complications from its analysis). It also saves lives, as the system alerts doctors if the patient’s tests are not good or the patients did not do them on time. The medical Internet of things in some countries is supported at the national level. For example, the Korean authorities are trying to make affordable devices for older people, and in Turkey, partnership programs between the state and business have been introduced to fight diabetes and its complications.
Industry 4.0 is the leading trend of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which takes place right now.
We live in the era of the third digital revolution, which began in the second half of the last century. Its characteristic features are the development of information and communication technologies, automation, and robotization of production processes.
The features of Industry 4.0 are fully automated production facilities where all processes are controlled in real-time, taking into account changing external conditions. Cyberphysical systems create virtual copies of objects in the physical world, control processes, and make decentralized decisions. They can unite in one network, interact in real-time, self-adjust, and learn. An important role is played by Internet technologies that provide communications between personnel and machines. Enterprises create products under the requirements of the individual customer, optimizing the cost of production.
Indeed, the issue of security in the IoT field is crucial. The fragmentation and lack of standards play into the hands of cybercriminals. Some years ago, the Mirai botnet showed what routers, CCTV cameras, and even “smart” nannies are vulnerable to DDoS attacks. The protection of IoT devices needs to be approached with the same seriousness as regular computer equipment.
Any work with big data raises the issue with their safety and security; therefore, DDoS and other intentional virus attacks are not the only risks. Placing, storing, and subsequent processing of data from smart devices requires extensive computing resources.
That is why the Internet of things and the cloud are integral. The reconstruction of the technical base and the identification of data for analysis, in most cases, is carried out on a provider’s cloud platform. The cloud is equipped with a full range of protective tools against intentional data theft, accidental loss in case of IT systems failure, or human errors. Expensive fail-safe cloud storage systems can provide the solution and the availability of IT experts 24/7, devoting more time for improving the smart technologies themselves and analyzing the data.