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The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a phrase that you may have seen bouncing around recently.

For those of you in certain industries, like technology, IT, marketing or even those with an interest in digital developments, you’re likely unable to escape it.

It can be a term that is difficult to wrap your head around, so in this post we answer the burning question:

 

What is the Internet of Things?

Oxford Languages’ definition of Internet of Things is:

“The interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.”

In short, if it connects to the internet in any way, and/or passes data on to another device or source, it contributes to the IoT.

Now that is cleared up, our next question is:

Where is the Internet of Things?

Think of the devices you use in everyday life, whether at home, at work or out and about – it is likely that many of these are part of the Internet of Things.

Take a look at the examples below for a better idea of how the IoT affects our everyday lives.

Home automation

People are creating ‘smart homes’ with the help of an enormous range of products which are designed to make our everyday lives easier through automation and control everything from air conditioning and heating to lighting, power, music and even your curtains!

Utilities companies have also embraced smart technology, allowing them to take meter readings for your water, gas, and electricity without the need to visit your home for more accurate billing.

As of February 2021, there were 2.2 million smart homes in the UK and more than 258 million worldwide.

Wearable tech

Many wearable devices or smart watches connect to the user’s phone via Bluetooth to pass on data about their health and fitness or receive and display information from their phone such as incoming calls and text messages.

Many even connect to satellites to provide GPS data to provide more accurate data readings on exercise sessions.

There are even equivalents for your pets (yes, really) which allow owners to keep track of how much exercise their furry friend is getting and so much more.

Statistics show that there were 835 million connected wearable devices worldwide in 2019, with the number set to rise to over 1.1 billion in 2022.

Vehicles

Vehicles are now essentially built on the Internet of Things and are becoming ‘smarter’ with every new iteration.

One manufacturer, owned by a certain space-exploring multi-billionaire, has created automation driven cars (literally) which boast an array of AI features – including autopilot, a single touchscreen that controls everything from heating to radio use and navigation, and several more obscure features – making them the market leader in vehicles within the IoT.

However, arguably some of the most important connections to the IoT in our vehicles is present in them all; under the bonnet, countless sensors are used to connect your car’s computer with the mechanical parts that make it run.

So, every time your check engine light or low fuel light pops up on your dashboard, the IoT is behind it.

It is estimated that one in five cars on the road now has some sort of wireless connectivity.

Transport

Whether you’re popping out to the shops, commuting to work, or taking a work trip or holiday, you can’t travel without coming into contact with the IoT.

In built-up areas we often come across fixed speed cameras and traffic lights, while ‘smart motorways’ have been introduced to increase capacity, reduce congestion and manage lane use and safety in the event of emergencies or vehicle breakdowns.

The added infrastructure on our roads also connects to our vehicles themselves; mobile phone apps or in-vehicle features feed the data obtained from smart motorways and other technology straight to our cars and alert us to speed cameras, road closures and congestion.

On the rail network, signalling and train control software is data-driven and more connected than ever before.

As a result, employees can carry out operational and maintenance tasks more safely, and passengers have access to a more reliable and more transparent network that ever before with real-time updates and online tracking of services – an invaluable feature which also services various other areas of the travel sector.

Security

Modern technology is heavily reliant on the IoT for security features to work.

Our devices often feature some form of advanced security system in the form of a fingerprint reader or facial recognition.

Devices with fingerprint scanners feature a sensor which captures some form of digital image of the ridges and valleys on your fingertip which make up your unique fingerprint.

Devices which use facial recognition, like some mobile phones, use a similar idea, capturing a depth map and/or an infrared image of your face. Much like a fingerprint, this is unique to you.

This information is stored as mathematical data by the device’s computer and is recalled for comparison any time you attempt to unlock the device.

Both systems involve capturing, storing and recalling data – you guessed it – via the IoT.

Shopping

Before we even leave the house, we’re able to use rely on data gathered by the IoT to plan our trip as Google can now provide indications of a shop’s busy and quiet times.

Anonymous data captured by Google from customers’ devices allows the search engine to give us an indication of how busy the shop is at that given time. Based on historic data, Google can also predict how busy the shop will be in the coming hours.

Within the shop itself, barcodes provide a quick and hassle-free shopping experience. Each barcode is unique to the product it represents.

When the barcode is scanned, the light reflected by the white spaces translates to a unique set of digits which is then processes by the computer and the corresponding data is pulled up from the shop’s database.

Again, these systems are essentially just made up of creation, storage, and retrieval of data.

So, what and where is the Internet of Things?

In conclusion, the Internet of Things is all around us.

In a society where our lives are becoming more and more digitalised, it is hardly a surprise that the Internet of Things is on track to connect and contribute to everything we do.

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