Internet of Things(IoT) is a network of physical objects or people called "things" that are embedded with software, electronics, network, and sensors that allow these objects to collect and exchange data. IoT aims to extend to internet connectivity from standard devices like computer, mobile, tablet to relatively dumb devices like a toaster.

IoT is creating a giant network where all the devices are connected and providing them with the capability to interact with each other. This is driving the automation to the next level where devices will communicate with each other and make decisions on their own without any human interventions.

IoT makes virtually everything " smart," by improving aspects of our life with the power of data collection, AI algorithms, and networks. The thing in IoT can also be a person with a diabetes monitor implant, an animal with tracking devices, etc.

Birth of IoT

Let me start this IoT tutorial by introducing the person who invented the term “ Internet of Things“ The term “ The Internet of Things” (IoT) was invented by Kevin Ashton in a presentation to Proctor & Gamble in 1999. He is a co-founder of MIT’s Auto-ID Lab. He pioneered RFID (used in bar code detector) for the supply-chain management domain. He also started Zensi, a company that makes energy sensing and monitoring technology.

The above Kevin’s quote would have given you an idea about the ideologies behind the development of IoT. Let’s now try to moreover simplify this term and understand IoT fundamentally.

History of IoT

1970- The actual idea of connected devices was proposed 1990- John Romkey invented a toaster which could be turned on/off over the Internet

1995- Siemens introduced the first cellular module built for M2M

1999- The term "Internet of Things" was used by Kevin Ashton during his work at P&G which became widely accepted

2004 - The term was mentioned in famous publications like the Guardian, Boston Globe, and Scientific American

2005-UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) published its first report on this topic.

2008- The Internet of Things was born

2011- Gartner, the market research company, include "The Internet of Things" technology in their research

Introduction to IoT

The ‘Thing’ in IoT can be any device with any kind of built-in-sensors with the ability to collect and transfer data over a network without manual intervention. The embedded technology in the object stimulates them to interact with internal states and the external environment, which in turn helps in decisions making process.

In a nutshell, IoT is a concept that connects all the devices to the internet and let them communicate with each other over the internet. IoT is a giant network of connected devices – all of which gather and share data about how they are used and the environments in which they are operated.

IoT is trying to expand the dependence in humans- i.e. interact, contribute, and collaborate to things. I know this sounds a bit complicated, let’s understand this with an example. A developer presents the application with a document containing the standards, logic, errors & exceptions handled by him to the tester. Again, if there are any concerns Tester reaches it back to the Developer. It takes multiple iterations & in this manner a smart application is created. Likewise, a room temperature sensor collects the data and sends it across the network, which is then used by multiple device sensors to adjust their temperatures respectively. Similarly, your air conditioners can also adjust its temperature accordingly. This is how devices can interact, contribute & collaborate.

Benefits of IoT

Since IoT allows devices to be commanded remotely across the internet, thus it created opportunities to directly connect & integrate the physical world to the computer-based systems using sensors and the internet. The interconnection of these multiple embedded devices will be resulting in automation in nearly all fields and also enabling advanced applications. This is resulting in improved accuracy, efficiency, and economic benefit with reduced human intervention. It encompasses technologies such as smart grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation, and smart cities. The major benefits of IoT are:

Improved Customer Engagement : IoT enriches customer experience by automating the action. For e.g. any issue in the car will be automatically detected by the sensors. The driver, as well as the manufacturer, will be notified about it. Till the time driver reaches the service station, the manufacturer will make sure that the faulty part is available at the service station.

Technical Optimization : IoT has eased a lot in improving technologies and making them extremely. The manufacturer can gather data from different car sensors and analyze them to improve their design and make them much more profitable.

Reduced Waste : Our current insights are superficial, but IoT provides real-time information leading to effective decision making & management of resources. For example, if a manufacturer finds fault in multiple engines, he can track the manufacturing plant of those engines and can rectify the issue with a manufacturing belt.

Nowadays, we are enclosed by lots of IoT enabled devices that are continuously transmitting data and communicating through multiple devices.

How IoT work?

The complete IoT process starts with the devices themselves like smartphones, smartwatches, electronic appliances like TV, Washing Machine which supports you to communicate with the IoT platform. Here, are four significant components of an IoT system:

1. Sensors/Devices: Sensors or devices are a key component that assists you to collect live data from the surrounding environment. All this data may have various levels of complexities. It could be a simple temperature monitoring sensor, or it may be in the form of the video feed. A device may have various types of sensors that perform multiple tasks apart from sensing.

2. Connectivity: All the collected data is sent to a cloud infrastructure. The sensors should be connected to the cloud using various factors of communications. These communication factors include mobile or satellite networks, Bluetooth, WI-FI, WAN, etc.

3. Data Processing: Once that data is collected, and it gets to the cloud, the software performs processing on the gathered data. This process can be just checking the temperature, reading on devices like AC or heaters. However, it can sometimes also be very complex like identifying objects, using computer vision on video.

4. User Interface: The information needs to be available to the end-user in some way which can be achieved by triggering alarms on their phones or sending them notification through email or text message. The user sometimes might need an interface that actively checks their IoT system. For example, the user has a camera installed in his home. He wants to access video recording and all the feeds with the help of a web server.

However, it's not always one-way communication. Depending on the IoT application and complexity of the system, the user may also be able to perform an action that may create cascading effects.

IoT Hardware

Now you would be wondering what is the required hardware for preparing an IoT solution. The answer to this question is, you’ll first require sensors that will sense the environment, then you require a remote dashboard to monitor your output and display it in a clearer & conceivable form. At last, you will require a device with the capability of serving & routing. The key task of the system would be detecting specific conditions and taking actions accordingly. One thing to keep in mind is securing the communication between the devices and the dashboard.

Some of the common sensors that you are surrounded by are accelerometers, temperature sensors, magnetometers, proximity sensors, gyroscopes, image sensors, acoustic sensors, light sensors, pressure sensors, gas RFID sensors, humidity sensors & microflow sensors.

Nowadays we also have many wearable devices like smartwatches, shoes & 3D glasses. This is the best example of a smart solution. 3D glasses adjust television’s brightness and contrast according to your eye and your smartwatches keeps track of your daily activities and fitness.

But the most important device which has tremendously contributed to IoT is cell phones. Mobile apps have immensely contributed to revolutionizing the technology world. Cell phones are already encased with applications and sensors that reveal lots of information about its user. It has Geo-location information, it can sense and trace light condition, the orientation of your device and a lot more information. It also comes with multiple connectivity options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular that helps them to communicate with other devices. Thus, due to these default qualities of cell phones, it is the core of the IoT ecosystem. Today, smartphones can interact with smartwatch and fitness band to further ease and enhance the user experience.

IoT uses multiple technologies and protocols to communicate with devices based on the requirements. The major technologies & protocols are Bluetooth, wireless, NFC, RFID, radio protocols and Wi-Fi-Direct.

IoT applications are flourishing across all industries & markets. The IoT has a multitude of expansion over various industries. It spans overall groups of users, from those who are trying to reduce & conserve energy in their home to large organizations that want to improve their business operations. IoT has not only proved itself useful in optimizing critical applications in many organizations but also have boosted the concept of advanced automation which we have imagined a decade before. Let’s understand the capabilities of IoT across different industries and look at how they are revolutionizing them.

IoT Beyond Various Regions

Energy Applications: The energy rates have inflated to a great instinct. Individuals and organizations, both are searching for ways to reduce and control the consumption. IoT affords a way to not only monitor the energy usage at the appliance-level but also at the house-level, grid-level or could be at the distribution level. Smart Meters & Smart Grids are used to monitor energy consumption. It also detects threats to the system performance and stability, which protect appliances from downtime and damages.

Healthcare Application: Smartwatches and fitness devices have modified the frequency of health monitoring. People can monitor their health at regular intervals. Not only this, now if a patient is coming to the hospital by ambulance, by the time he or she reaches the hospital his health report is diagnosed by doctors and the hospital quickly starts the treatment. The data gathered from multiple healthcare applications are now collected and used to analyze different diseases and find a cure.

Education: IoT provides education grants that help in performing the gaps in the education industry. It not only improves the quality of education but also optimizes the cost and improves management by taking into consideration student's response and performance.

Government: Governments are trying to build smart cities using IoT solutions. IoT enhances armed force systems and services. It provides better security across the borders through inexpensive & high-performance devices. IoT helps government agencies to monitor data in real-time and improve their services like healthcare, transportation, education, etc.

Air and Water Pollution: Through various sensors, we can detect the pollution in the air and water by frequent sampling. This helps in preventing substantial contamination and related disasters. IoT allows operations to minimize the human intervention in farming analysis and monitoring. Systems automatically detect changes in crops, soil, environment, and more.

Transportation: IoT has changed the transportation sector. Now, we have self-driving cars with sensors, traffic lights that can sense the traffic and switch automatically, parking assistance, giving us the location of free parking space, etc. Also, various sensors in your vehicle indicate you about the current status of your vehicle, so that you don’t face any issues while traveling.

Marketing your product: Using IoT, organizations can better analyze & respond to customer preferences by delivering relevant content and solutions. It helps in improving business strategies in real-time. Now that we are aware of the powerful IoT solutions that have been astoundingly impacting various domains, let’s take a deep dive and understand Raspberry Pi, which is commonly used to prepare IoT solutions. After understanding Raspberry Pi we will be creating an IoT application.

Advantages of IoT

Key benefits of IoT technology are as follows:

Technical Optimization: IoT technology helps a lot in developing technologies and making them better. For example, with IoT, a manufacturer can collect data from various car sensors. The manufacturer analyzes them to improve its design and make them more efficient.

Improved Data Collection: Traditional data collection has its limitations and its design for passive use. IoT facilitates immediate action on data.

Reduced Waste: IoT offers real-time information leading to effective decision making & management of resources. For example, if a manufacturer finds an issue in multiple car engines, he can track the manufacturing plan of those engines and solves this issue with the manufacturing belt.

Improved Customer Engagement: IoT allows you to improve customer experience by detecting problems and improving the process.

Disadvantages of IOT

Security: IoT technology creates an ecosystem of connected devices. However, during this process, the system may offer little authentication control despite sufficient security measures.

Privacy: The use of IoT, exposes a substantial amount of personal data, in extreme detail, without the user's active participation. This creates lots of privacy issues.

Flexibility: There is a huge concern regarding the flexibility of an IoT system. It is mainly regarding integrating with another system as there are many diverse systems involved in the process.

Complexity: The design of the IoT system is also quite complicated. Moreover, it's deployment and maintenance also not very easy.

Compliance: IoT has its own set of rules and regulations. However, because of its complexity, the task of compliance is quite challenging.