Jumping into the World of IoT
Basic intro about IOT
IOT has been in the talks for quite some time, but has gained widespread recognition in the near past.
Putting it simply, it is a system comprising of several devices interconnected by means of an internet connection that perform collection and sharing of data without the intervention of a human.
It can also be explained by using the term ubiquitous computing, which revolves around the concept of human-computer interaction. It basically caters to the requirement of making computers operate in the human environment and providing them with several options of getting their work done by the use of gadgets. Another known term for this concept is pervasive computing, which also means to make computers capable of communicating and collaborating together to provide valuable data and insights to the user.
Emergence of IoT
To state precisely, the ‘concept’ has been around since 1832, although it was not explicitly labeled as ‘IoT’. Initially what occurred was transference of an electromagnetic signal between two devices to create a communication channel. It was performed on the electric telegraphs, a point-to-point messaging system. A modern-day variation of this technology is Bluetooth, which uses ultra-high frequency radio waves for transmitting data to devices within close proximity.
This is how the ‘concept’ evolved before internet was a thing. Speaking of the history, the term ‘Internet of Things’ was put forward by Kevin Ashton in 1999 for which, he is often regarded as the Father of IoT.
IoT was practically introduced through a vending machine. As it is commonly known that necessity is the mother of invention, this machine was invented when a university student felt it cumbersome to pay visits to the vending machine just to find that there were no soda cans available or the ones present were not of the desired temperature. He came up with the idea of making the vending machine ‘communicate’ the availability of soda cans and the temperature of recently stocked cans to the end-user in order to eliminate the need of making fruitless trips to the machine.
This was considered a first step towards making machines interact with each other or the Internet of Things, as we know now.
Working specifically on the concept of interconnected devices, John Romkey and Simon Hacket introduced the first toaster in 1990, which was connected to the internet via TCP/IP networking. Its only function as an IoT device was to be switched on and off over the internet. The time duration between turning the toaster on and switching it off determined the color and crispness of the toast. It was further modified in 1991 by integrating a robot crane that picked the bread slice and dropped it in the toaster instead of someone manually doing it.
How IoT Works
IoT uses the internet technology for the interconnectivity of devices. The devices are connected through an internet connection which is then used to communicate and transfer data between them. IoT devices can also use the methods mentioned below in order to communicate with each other.
- Near-Field Communication (NFC)
Near-field communication is the method of making devices communicate wirelessly that are placed within a close proximity of about 4 cm or less. It enables the user to transfer data between the two devices such as making payment at a grocery store by simply bringing your cellular device near to the terminal, paying bus fare by using the same method and scanning a QR code from one device to another.
Bluetooth enables the user to connect to devices that lie within 10 meters – 100 meters radius (depending on the Bluetooth class). It uses high frequency radio waves to transmit signals that help the devices in exchanging data and information. Although IoT came into being after Bluetooth was widely known and used, it can be considered an ancestor to IoT and hence is often seen to be used in combination with IoT.
IoT and AI
One cannot discuss IoT without sprinkling facts here and there about artificial intelligence. The emergence of IoT started way back to the 1990s, whereas artificial intelligence has been under attention to a wide range of audiences for quite a few years. As the concept of AI revolves around making the computing machines intelligent so that they can be of help to the human in general and the IoT also serves the same purpose but by enabling communication amongst the devices, hence they are often used in conjunction with each other. AI technology is implemented onto the machines that are often regarded as AI robots. The AI robots are made ‘intelligent’ by the use of AI machine learning and AI deep learning techniques that puts a machine into the process of learning about certain aspects of the human world so that they can provide us with the desired benefits.
IoT has spanned over a wide variety of devices ranging from personal gadgets such as cellphones, smart watches, tablets to numerous smart home appliances, you name it.
The data and information are exchanged amongst the devices as per need and each device manipulates it according to the requirement to provide the user with their desired results.
An internet of things example is the smart watch, the tracks and monitors the health of the wearer and transmits that information to a handheld device such as smart phones. The app in the smart phone can then use the transmitted data to send appropriate alerts to the users in case any abnormalities are identified.
Another example is the smart refrigerator that keeps monitoring its contents and sends alerts to the user’s smart phone in case the stock is running out. Also, it helps the user to maintain a grocery list that is then electronically transmitted to the smart phone by which the user can have their grocery list with them anywhere they go.
Shortcomings of the ‘big’ concepts
Everything comes with its pros and cons and same is the case with IoT. While IoT provides you more control over your gadget through their interconnectivity, IoT, at the same time, poses a threat to your data security. A hacker can easily have access to all of the devices that you have connected to a single internet connection once they have their way to your internet router. Once access is gained, the hacker can then extract any type of data they require and can misuse it as per their intentions.
Every step you take, any action you make, is recorded and saved as data that is then processed into some useful information as per the requirement. That information is then used to provide the user with best options that help them through their daily lives. But thinking of this, is it really that important to have data concerning all of your doings saved at some place that is then processed by who knows what server? Everyone should have control over their personal data, but with the fact stated earlier, I assume that we have little or no control over our data. Although we have the rights to let them collect our data with our consent but who knows who is having access to all that information and who processes it? Someone with ill intentions would definitely not let this opportunity slip from their hands to misuse that data that they have illegally gained access to.
There are several ways to prevent this, and I’ll be discussing a few options out of the many that should be considered by the services providers and us, as users.
Service providers should ensure that secure protocols are used to obtain data and process it. The data stored should be encrypted and the servers that store user’s data should be protected by several layers.
At the user’s end, the user should try to set strong passwords for their internet connections and have at least two internet connections to which their devices are connected. In case a hacker somehow gained access to the first internet connection; extra damage could be avoided by the presence of the second internet connection to which the remaining devices are connected.
Some examples of IoT devices
IoT is implemented in almost every device that we have in our hands today. But talking about internet of things’ explicit implementation, some of the applications of IoT below are what would suit the concept best, although not all of them specifically use the internet to communicate but use electronic signals for data transference and communication.
• Wireless Chargers
Wireless chargers work by the use of electromagnetic energy that is transmitted from the wireless charger and is received by the cellular device by means of an electromagnetic induction. The way this works is to bring the device you intend to recharge within the distance of nine inches to the wireless charger.
• Smart Homes
Humans are smart and so can be the homes. Smart homes feature a wide variety of devices that are connected to the internet and function as needed without much intervention of humans such as smart alarms, smart lights and fans, smart air conditioners and heaters, and smart security systems.
We live in an era where anything that is over the internet is connected to several other gadgets and are in a constant process of data exchange. All that should mainly concern us is the security of our data that is transmitted through the internet and the servers that hold and manage our data. Apart from the security factors, IoT is a huge world that is expanding by each passing day and proves to be beneficial in various aspects as discussed in some applications of IoT above.