Here’s everything you need to know about the increasingly connected world.
What is the Internet of Things?
In the broadest sense, the term IoT encompasses everything connected to the internet, but it is increasingly being used to define objects that “talk” to each other. “Simply, the Internet of Things is made up of devices – from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables – connected together,” Matthew Evans, the IoT programme head at techUK, says.
By combining these connected devices with automated systems, it is possible to “gather information, analyse it and create an action” to help someone with a particular task, or learn from a process. In reality, this ranges from smart mirrors to beacons in shops and beyond.
“It’s about networks, it’s about devices, and it’s about data,” Caroline Gorski, the head of IoT at Digital Catapult explains. IoT allows devices on closed private internet connections to communicate with others and “the Internet of Things brings those networks together. It gives the opportunity for devices to communicate not only within close silos but across different networking types and creates a much more connected world.”
An argument has been raised that only because something can be connected to the internet doesn’t mean it should be, but each device collects data for a specific purpose that may be useful to a buyer and impact the wider economy.
Within industrial applications, sensors on product lines can increase efficiency and cut down on waste. One study estimates 35 per cent of US manufacturers are using data from smart sensors within their set-ups already. US firm Concrete Sensors has created a device that can be inserted into concrete to provide data on the material’s condition, for instance.
“IoT offers us opportunity to be more efficient in how we do things, saving us time, money and often emissions in the process,” Evans says. It allows companies, governments and public authorities to re-think how they deliver services and produce goods.
“The quality and scope of the data across the Internet of Things generates an opportunity for much more contextualised and responsive interactions with devices to create a potential for change,” continued Gorski. It “doesn’t stop at a screen”.