The Internet of Things (IoT): A Beginner's Crash Course
Alex Lutz, Tech Director
September 17, 2018
You know more about the Internet of Things, or IoT, than you may think. While the term sounds futuristic, almost everyone is already using IoT on a daily basis. IoT simply refers to items that contain software, sensors, electronics, etc., that allow them to connect with computers or each other and "talk." In the past, this type of connectivity was limited to your computer, smartphone, and tablet. Now, many previously "dumb" items, like your thermostat, can adjust themselves or accomplish tasks that you used to do. A number of IoT devices exist that help individual consumers and various industries. Understanding what they are and how to use them can only enhance your life.
Consumer or CIoT
The Consumer Internet of Things refers to computerized devices that make your own life easier. You may already have a smart TV with advanced streaming ability, a car with numerous computerized elements, and home control devices. Members of your family may wear health-tracking devices that transfer information to your computer for storage and assessment. Perhaps you wake up to music provided by Siri or Alexa. Home automation devices are a popular part of CIoT. Your smart home may include several devices that are connected through a central hub. You can control your HVAC system by setting different temperatures for nighttime and daytime. Lighting and home security can also be pre-set or controlled remotely. Other devices include leak detection, child and pet monitoring, and air quality control. Consumers are really just beginning to see how CIoT can affect their lives. By 2020, you will see more and better uses of this technology in your home. Experts predict artificial intelligence will become more pervasive, routers will become "smarter," and approximately 21 billion connected devices will exist.
The most significant applications of IoT may be in the business sector. Some of the applications are those that individual consumers use, such as control of HVAC systems in offices and manufacturing plants to cut facility expenses. The truly exciting Enterprise IoT may come in manufacturing automation. For instance, IoT can be used to "manage parts and perishables and also prevent counterfeit products." The future of EIoT may include smart refrigeration units that will notify staff what needs restocking and when. This technology may also help track food consumption trends and health issues among segments of the population. EIot can also be used to determine the best routes for trucks moving products, saving manufacturers time and money. The healthcare industry is already using EIot to monitor hand hygiene practices as well as a number of patient vital signs.
IoT Big Data
For some in the field, data is the main goal of IoT devices. They provide a constant stream of information about consumers or manufacturing practices that begs for advanced analysis in order to make improvements in almost any process. IoT can provide mobile geolocation data, product usage data, social media data, and records of operations in software applications.
Unfortunately, IoT devices are vulnerable to hacking, as are all computerized items. That's why many experts are focused on improving both individual and enterprise security in this area. They recommend that every IoT device allowed on your network meet security standards and that you use network segmentation as much as possible. Of course, IoT devices have to be able to talk to each other, so isolating them from your main network can be problematic. The Internet of Things has already come into homes and businesses, but it promises to explode in the coming few years. IoT can simplify everyday life as well as enhance business practices and production. The data it provides can offer valuable insight into consumer behavior and manufacturing plants. While security is an issue, IoT is on the rise and will inevitably play a huge role in the coming years.
Alex Lutz is a Tech Director at Lutz. He began his career in 2007. Alex is responsible for technology and data analytics consulting, service and technical escalations, as well as building processes and procedures for the Lutz Tech Service Desk team.
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