Understanding IoT: The Internet of Things explained

The Internet of Things (IoT) is not some future concept, nor is it just around the corner; it has been here for some time, and it’s growing. Fueled by the expansion of wireless and cloud computing technology, more things are now connected to the internet than people. That’s all people, not just people on the internet.

What are these “things” which make up the Internet of Things? The IoT is not limited to smartphones and tablets, laptops and desktops. Every year, more and more devices are released capable of internet access, exponentially expanding the universe of internet of things devices.

Heart monitors and insulin pumps generate real-time data available to healthcare professionals caring for patients. Cattle ranchers can monitor cows in the field, not only pinpointing their location, but also identifying those who are pregnant. Power stations, remote pumps feeding oil and gas lines, and even entire assembly lines can now be accessed, monitored and controlled as part of the Internet of Things.

Your car texts you when it needs an oil change or when the tire pressure is getting low. Traffic lights send real-time data on traffic flow, allowing controllers to make adjustments to relieve congestion and helping drivers change their routes. Gas pumps provide price data to consumers, alert distributors about usage and contribute to meta data sales measurements, all information available via the Internet.

The possibilities of the IoT are limited only by the imagination.

With information about the status of everything potentially available to everyone, anywhere, at anytime, security and privacy become serious concerns. A real threat exists, requiring constant vigilance to deal with those concerns.

If you think the IoT hasn’t entered your life yet, look around you. You might be surprised to discover how many devices — from cash registers to parking meters, gas pumps to washing machines — can access and transmit data over the Internet. The question to ask is not when it will effect you; it effects you now. The question is; how will you handle the increased data flow?