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What is the Internet of Things?

“It’s about networks, it’s about devices, and it’s about data. The Internet of Things brings those networks together. It gives the opportunity for devices to communicate not only within close silos but across different networking types and creates a much more connected world.”

Caroline Gorski, the head of IoT at Digital Catapult

The Internet of Things: you may or may not have heard of it. The Internet of Things (IoT) may seem like a relatively new phrase, the idea has been around in the tech world for decades. MIT researcher and Procter and Gamble executive Kevin Ashton actually coined the phrase “’Internet of Things’ in 1999.

The concept itself is pretty simple; it’s basically about connecting ‘things’ (devices) over the Internet, and those devices communicating with each other, and then with us. If devices have this capability, then they’re considered a ‘smart’ device.

IoT infographic

The most heavily used IoT devices are ones that make home life easier, more distinctive, and more pleasant.

How is the Internet of Things being used by people?

A common example of this in practice is your fridge being able to sense when you’re out of milk, and either sending you text message to alert you, or automatically order you a new bottle straight away. While this example might seem a bit futuristic, the Internet of Things is growing larger and faster all the time.

The development of IoT has been increasing for the last few years and is set to skyrocket within the next year or two. Both businesses and consumers are adapting smart technology on an immense scale.

There are already more devices connected to the Internet than there are people on the planet. By 2020, there is estimated to be tens of billions of devices connected to the Internet, transmitting tiny bits of information to us and to each other.

They’re already changing how we live and work. At the end of 2016, there were 3.8 billion connected things out there: smart cars, watches, motion sensors, buses, solar panels, heart rate monitors, farm equipment, traffic lights, smoke alarms, and yes, fridges.

This is just a small portion of the impact ‘smart’ devices are currently having in our daily routines. Connected home technologies, ranging from security sensors to connected light bulbs, to heating and cooling; are improving our lives everyday.

Using these home technologies, you might connect your vehicle to a smart door opener, which communicates to your smart door lock, which communicates to your smart lighting and heating system. Devices can also be scheduled and automated to correspond to your preferences and habits.

This means that when you pull into your driveway, your house could unlock and the right appliances could turn on for you, right when you need it. The lights are on and the house is warm. Pretty powerful huh?

On a larger scale, smart devices and networks are affecting industries across the globe. In the medical sector, IoT sensors and ‘smart beds’ can tell if a patient is out of their bed and alert a nurse, or even determine if their condition is worsening by detecting temperature and breathing changes. They can record these details and store the data until they can be seen by a doctor, whether they are in or out of the hospital.

Elsewhere, the Internet of Things is set to push the future of farming to the next level. To meet the climbing demands of a growing population, farmers are turning to the IoT for greater efficiency in agriculture production.

Smart agriculture is already becoming frequently utilised by farmers, and smart farming is nearly commonplace due to IoT sensors and drones. Farmers can use their smartphones to remotely monitor their equipment, crops, and livestock, as well as obtain stats on their livestock feeding and produce. They can even use this technology to run statistical predictions for their crops and livestock.

crop of corn

Farmers have been early adopters of Internet of Things technology.

What’s the future of the Internet of Things?

There is no shortage of possibilities for smart devices. IoT is improving our lives both a large, industrial and economic scale, and on a day to day basis.

There’s no doubt that the Internet of Things will continue to grow as we become more connected with technology, and more connected to each other.

At carbonTRACK, the Internet of things is at the heart of our technologies, and we’re excited to push the limits and see the power it has for improving people’s lives.

Want to learn more about how IoT can help automate your life? carbonTRACK can make your house a smart home. Find out how it works here.

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