What's the Internet of Things (IoT)?
Current conversations about the future of technology almost inevitably include an incursion into the "internet of things" or simply "IoT."
This concept describes the network of physical objects—"things"—embedded with technology in the form of sensors, software, and other developing tech to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet.
The idea of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, when a modified Coca-Cola vending machine at Carnegie Mellon University became the first Internet-connected appliance able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold or not.
Since then, applications for IoT devices have expanded and are currently often divided into consumer, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure spaces.
Consumer use of IoT devices has become ubiquitous. It's not unusual to run into "smart homes" featuring home automation devices such as Apple's HomeKit and Lenovo's Smart Home Essentials, which are connected through Siri and Apple's Home App. Other consumer IoT devices include elder care voice control and remote assistance tools.
Ever heard of IoMT (the Internet of Medical Things)? Such classification includes "smart healthcare" tech-like devices monitoring vital bodily functions such as blood pressure, specialized implants (e.g., pacemakers), electronic wristbands, and advanced hearing aids. The information collected from these devices could prove crucial in remote health monitoring and emergency notification systems. Transportation services also feature their share of IoT, including technology supporting intelligent traffic control, smart parking, electronic toll collection systems, logistics and fleet management, vehicle control, safety, and road assistance.
Known as IIoT, industrial IoT devices acquire and evaluate data from connected equipment, operational technology (OT), locations, and people. Combined with operational technology (OT) monitoring devices, IIoT helps regulate and monitor industrial systems, including manufacturing and agriculture. For example, farmers can now remotely monitor soil temperature and moisture and even apply IoT- acquired data to precision fertilization programs.
Monitoring and controlling operations of sustainable urban and rural infrastructures like bridges, railway tracks, and wind farms are vital applications of the IoT. IoT devices can be used for monitoring any events or changes in structural conditions that can compromise safety and increase risk – the construction industry benefits from consequent cost saving, time reduction, better quality workday, paperless workflow, and increase in productivity.