Internet of Things – Explained in Simple Words

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Source: Google Images

As you can see in the above pictures, the devices are either talking to people or to each other. The technology that is enabling this communication to happen is Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is transforming the way every industry works. Any physical device called a ‘Thing’ which can be assigned with an IP address (Internet), can collect meaningful data (through sensor) and send data over a network (Wired or Wireless) is termed as IoT. In 1999, Kevin Ashton a British Entrepreneur called this technology as ‘Internet of Things’. Industrial Internet (by GE) and Internet of Everything (by CISCO) are synonyms to Internet of Things.

Transfer of meaningful data can be between two devices, device and a living thing, device and an external system.

IoT application includes almost every industry – Banking, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Energy, Transportation, Consumer electronics, Manufacturing, Construction, Building, Automobile, Agriculture and Environment.

Let us take an example to understand IoT in detail

As the saying goes ‘Health is Wealth’, it is imperative to stay fit to maintain good health condition. Good health means fewer or no visits to the Doctor.

Consider a Wearable Device intended for patients with Cardiac Arrhythmias. This device can help patient to track his/her biometrics (meaningful data) i.e. movement, heartbeat and pulse rate. This meaningful data can then be sent to the Physician Application (on a smart phone/tab) for remote monitoring. Also, patient can monitor these values on his/her smart phone/tab.

How does IoT device work?

Every IOT device will be embedded with Sensor (for capture of meaningful data). It can also come with an RFID embedded sensor.

In our example, Wearable Device (IoT device) will monitor patient’s biometrics using the sensor embedded in the device and this data is securely transferred (Device Connectivity) to Physician Application for remote monitoring (Data Visualization). Patient will be able to view his/her biometrics on the Smart Phone and also compare it with the previous results to take better control of his/her health (Device Connectivity & Data Visualization). Rules can be configured to automatically send alarm to the Physician when the biometrics crosses the danger mark (Rules Engine). In this way, the physician can be in constant touch with his/her patients, outside of the clinical setting. Also, with an RFID embedded sensor, physician will be able to track patient location incase of medical emergency.

Data generated by similar devices can be collected in a common data pool (Database) and analytics (Analytics & Tools) can be run on this data to gain deeper insight to the problems which in turn will help in providing more effective care plan to patients.

Also, data churned out by the above device can be sent to patient’s Electronic Medical Record for detailed investigation and future reference (External Interface). This data combined with patient’s clinical information can be used to provide personalized care plan to the patient.

It is also important to handle software upgrades to devices and applications (Device Management).

A platform is necessary to develop and support services like common data pool, analytics, rules engine, secure device connectivity, device management, end user application features and external interface. This platform is called as IoT platform and is usually hosted on a cloud. There are umpteen number of companies venturing into IoT platform development on cloud. Few of the big players are: IBM, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco.

A good IoT Application Platform should enable the following functions:

  • Deployment of software applications that manage connected devices
  • Data collections from connected devices and standardization of data
  • Secure connection between connected devices
  • Integration with third party systems
  • Interoperability

IoT Analytics.com recommends that IoT application platform should comprise of the following software components: Device Connectivity, Device Management, Database, Rules Engine, Analytics, Data Visualization, External Interface and Tools for reporting, access management, prototyping.

An IoT Ecosystem usually comprises of the following components as shown below:

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Note: Icons used in the above diagram are taken from Google Images.

IoT and RFID Technology

IoT is a technology that has emerged from RFID. In IoT, data sharing is done using the Internet Protocol. In RFID, data sharing is done using components like tags, antenna and readers in isolation. These tags can read/write data like condition, context, location of the object and so on. Sharing this data dynamically with stakeholders across enterprises using Internet Protocol will definitely result in an increased return on investment. This can be achieved using an RFID embedded sensor in the IoT device. Value proposition that can be derived from this will drive the relationship between IoT and RFID in each of the industrial sectors.

Opportunities                                                                                                                                                                                  

IoT has definitely opened door to ample opportunities across industries. It is revolutionizing industries and empowering them to take better control of their business.

Applying analytics on the data provided by IoT devices can help organizations in understanding their Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. This in turn will help them in identification of new business streams and revenue generation avenues.

As per Gartner survey, by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices, CISCO estimates this number to be 50 billion and some even estimate this number to cross 100 billion. Forbes estimates Investment in IoT to reach $117 billion by 2020. Based on survey done by IBM, IoT is driving 71% of COOs to re-evaluate their operating models, 91 % of business leaders in Electronics Industry say that IoT will reshape their organization’s brand equity.

Challenges

Industries need to diligently contemplate on deciphering information from the plethora of data generated by the IOT devices. With too many vendors entering into the IoT market, privacy and security of data transferred across devices is a big challenge that IoT world is encountering today. Normalization of data collected by billions of devices is another challenge which the industry needs to seriously think. Industries also need to give a deep thought to the regulations surrounding the IoT ecosystem. There are no clear interoperability standards for exchange of information between IoT applications leading to integration complexity and confusion.

Ending Note

With continuous surge in the number of IoT devices, opportunities and challenges will co-exist.

It is the fundamental responsibility of every industry to look into effective ways of analyzing and connecting data generated from billions of IoT devices to gain potential value from IoT.

Examples of IoT device

There are plenty of IoT devices available in the market which are beyond our imagination. To name a few: Prescription bottles fitted with microchips for medication tracking, Industrial Assets embedded with sensor and RFID for tracking. For more examples across industries visit:  http://postscapes.com/internet-of-things-examples/.

 

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15 thoughts on “Internet of Things – Explained in Simple Words

  1. Great start and excellent articulation of a complex area in simple words! Look forward to more such blogs on healthcare IoT or Internet of Medical Things IoMT!

    Like

  2. Congratulations on becoming a writer “officially” on the virtual media!!! 🙂
    Wishing many many more interesting articles come out of your pen ……

    Its is a good article, informative, good collection of facts and information.

    Like

  3. Hello Ananthalakshmi..as the old adage goes, well begun is half done and what a wonderful way to start a blog. This post was lucid and easy for the digitally challenged people like me, thanks so much for making look IOT, the trending stuff sound so easy!

    Like

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