Connected Devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) 📺

The interconnected world of smart devices
May 26, 2023

‍You might have heard the words Internet of Things, the promising new age of connected devices. With it comes great challenges like the mass production of circuit boards and low power consumption, but what they promise is an automated world.

This article will look into what makes the IoT and how it can be beneficial.

What is Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things or IoT in short is all about connected devices, the data they collect, and the immediate insight you can gain from it. The IoT allows your organization to gather real-time data and to make your decisions based on those.

Using it correctly means you can operate more efficiently and provide value to your customers. You will solve business problems using your data, data that was compiled by your various sensors.

IoT devices are devices that connect to a larger Internet-connected device. These include sensors of all types like cameras, heat sensors, and accelerometers. These devices collect data and send it to a data processing unit that either use the data as is or sends it to a remote device for processing.

Typically, IoT devices only collect data, the real decisions are made when a bunch of data is collected and put together. Therefore, most of the time, the data is sent to a centralized unit, often the cloud, which then analyzes the data as a whole to make a decision to send out charts and general information about your system.

Most systems however rely heavily on their source of input, the sensors most of the time, are the stars of the show.

The most common types of IoT devices in use are :

  • Sensors: As the IoT relies almost exclusively on input, these sensors come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from heat sensors to pressure sensors and automatic light detectors, these are all very important.
  • Security devices:  In residential areas, businesses, and industrial areas, security cameras, and audio recording devices are pretty common.
  • Smart wearables: Watches and earbuds are the most famous examples right now, smart glasses and other augmented reality devices are supposed to be the next ones coming.
  • Intelligent Appliances: These group together your smart appliances, like connected TVs, intelligent refrigerators, and smart thermostats. These make the right adjustments by gathering environmental information.
  • Actuators: These devices make physical changes based on the input they receive from other IoT devices.

Each IoT device performs a specific function within a larger system but no matter what they do, they all require some kind of connectivity to transfer their data.

Why we're connecting devices online

As the number of connected devices around the world keeps growing, it’s important to understand what the IoT world means and why we should follow that route.

  1. More data means better decisions

As you add sensors to your network of devices, you acquire larger amounts of data in many different areas. Looking at your smart fridge, instead of knowing which foods are going out of date, you could have warnings for power consumption, temperature, the average time of the door spent open, and more.

A greater flow of information means you can better analyze the data and make better decisions.

  1. Ability to track and monitor things

This is great for businesses but also for consumers as they now have relevant information on the current state of their products. They could know when to replace certain items without them having to check regularly.

  1. Lighten the workload through automation

Another idea of the IoT is to further automation, devices are created in order to require as little human intervention as possible.

  1. Increased efficiency by saving resources

As things are automated, they should operate in an efficient way. Think about your lights that could switch off automatically as soon as you leave a room. That could save you electricity if you ever forget to turn them off.

The same principle can be generalized to a vast variety of domains thanks to the IoT.

  1. Better quality of life

As people get busier, automation replaces the mundane things of your life by giving you the time to do what you enjoy. The IoT promises to improve your life in several aspects, lifestyle, health & fitness thanks to a variety of wearables that could help you stay in shape, well hydrated and that could monitor your health.

How do these connected devices work?

Given how small these devices have become, it may not be easy to understand how these devices are connected. Typically, they connect to a wireless network that’s built to share the information they collect. That may be Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cellular networks, it all depends on the range and power of the given device.

For instance, Wi-Fi works well in a home because it’s easy to find a power outlet needed to use a Wi-Fi connection. Bluetooth on the other hand uses minimal power and is better suited for wearables.

Typically, IoT devices have two different components, one of which is the data transmitter we’ve just talked about, the second one being a data collection component.

That data collection component is usually a sensor or an array of sensors needed to exhibit the desired behavior. That component is there to gather information and convert it into numerical data for computer processing.

To these two components, you might want to add a data storage component to store data and manage the network traffic. IoT network data protocols are often designed for low volumes of data. Therefore, you might want your sensor to send out its average value for the last minute instead of continuously sending out data.

IoT offers a very promising future, full of automation and data. This future is however only possible if we make our components more power-efficient and find sustainable ways of creating our antennas and sensors. As the number of devices keeps increasing, even a 1% difference in consumption makes a huge difference on a global scale.

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