Understanding Internet of Things.
By Shreya Deb:-
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is becoming an increasingly growing topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it. It’s a concept that not only has the potential to impact how we live but also how we work. But what exactly is the “Internet of things” and what impact is it going to have on you, if any?
It refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data. Thanks to the arrival of super-cheap computer chips and the ubiquity of wireless networks, it’s possible to turn anything, from something as small as a pill to something as big as an aeroplane, into a part of the IoT. Connecting up all these different objects and adding sensors to them adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate real-time data without involving a human being. The Internet of Things is making the fabric of the world around us smarter and more responsive, merging the digital and physical universes.
The term IoT is mainly used for devices that wouldn’t usually be generally expected to have an internet connection, and that can communicate with the network independently of human action. For this reason, a PC isn’t generally considered an IoT device and neither is a smartphone — even though the latter is crammed with sensors. A smartwatch or a fitness band or other wearable device might be counted as an IoT device, however.
Examples of an Internet of Things device:
Pretty much any physical object can be transformed into an IoT device if it can be connected to the internet to be controlled or communicate information.
A lightbulb that can be switched on using a smartphone app is an IoT device, as is a motion sensor or a smart thermostat in your office or a connected streetlight. An IoT device could be as fluffy as a child’s toy or as serious as a driverless truck. Some larger objects may themselves be filled with many smaller IoT components, such as a jet engine that’s now filled with thousands of sensors collecting and transmitting data back to make sure it is operating efficiently. At an even bigger scale, smart cities projects are filling entire regions with sensors to help us understand and control the environment.
How does it work?
Devices and objects with built in sensors are connected to an Internet of Things platform, which integrates data from the different devices and applies analytics to share the most valuable information with applications built to address specific needs.
These powerful IoT platforms can pinpoint exactly what information is useful and what can safely be ignored. This information can be used to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems before they occur.
For example, if I own a car manufacturing business, I might want to know which optional components (leather seats or alloy wheels, for example) are the most popular. Using Internet of Things technology, I can:
~Use sensors to detect which areas in a showroom are the most popular, and where customers linger longest;
~Drill down into the available sales data to identify which components are selling fastest;
~Automatically align sales data with supply, so that popular items don’t go out of stock.
The information picked up by connected devices enables me to make smart decisions about which components to stock up on, based on real-time information, which helps me save time and money.
With the insight provided by advanced analytics comes the power to make processes more efficient. Smart objects and systems mean you can automate certain tasks, particularly when these are repetitive, mundane, time-consuming or even dangerous. Let’s look at some examples to see what this looks like in real life.
Why IoT Matters?
When something is connected to the internet, that means that it can send information or receive information, or both. This ability to send and/or receive information makes things smart, and smart is good.
Let’s use smartphones (smartphones) again as an example. Right now, you can listen to just about any song in the world, but it’s not because your phone actually has every song in the world stored on it. It’s because every song in the world is stored somewhere else, but your phone can send information (asking for that song) and then receive information (streaming that song on your phone).
To be smart, a thing doesn’t need to have super storage or a supercomputer inside of it. All a thing has to do is connect to super storage or to a supercomputer. Being connected is awesome.
In the Internet of Things, all the things that are being connected to the internet can be put into three categories:
~Things that collect information and then send it.
~Things that receive information and then act on it.
~Things that do both.
And all three of these have enormous benefits that feed on each other.
Privacy implications of IoT:
Security is one the biggest issues with the IoT. These sensors are collecting in many cases extremely sensitive data — what you say and do in your own home, for example. Keeping that secure is vital to consumer trust, but so far the IoT’s security track record has been extremely poor. Too many IoT devices give little thought to the basics of security, like encrypting data in transit and at rest.
Everything that’s connected to the internet can be hacked, IoT products are no exception to this unwritten rule. Insecure IoT systems led to toy manufacturer VTech losing videos and pictures of children using its connected devices.
There’s also the issue of surveillance. If every product becomes connected, then there’s the potential for unbridled observation of users. If a connected fridge tracks food usage and consumption, takeaways could be targeted at hungry people who have no food. If a smartwatch can detect when you’re having sex, what is to stop people with that data using it against the watches’ wearer.
With all those sensors collecting data on everything you do, the IoT is a potentially vast privacy and security headache. Take the smart home: it can tell when you wake up (when the smart coffee machine is activated) and how well you brush your teeth (thanks to your smart toothbrush), what radio station you listen to (thanks to your smart speaker), what type of food you eat (thanks to your smart oven or fridge), what your children think (thanks to their smart toys), and who visits you and passes by your house (thanks to your smart doorbell). While companies will make money from selling you the smart object in the first place, their IoT business model probably involves selling at least some of that data, too.
What happens to that data is a vitally important privacy matter. Not all smart home companies build their business model around harvesting and selling your data, but some do.
And it’s worth remembering that IoT data can be combined with other bits of data to create a surprisingly detailed picture of you. It’s surprisingly easy to find out a lot about a person from a few different sensor readings. In one project, a researcher found that by analysing data charting just the home’s energy consumption, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels, temperature, and humidity throughout the day they could work out what someone was having for dinner.