Author: Jeslyn Guo
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a popular topic in technology today, particularly pertaining to machine learning and data. As the name would suggest, the IoT is a network of physical objects, known as “things”, that have software and other technologies used to connect and exchange data with other devices. Devices that are part of the IoT can range from smart microwaves to fitness trackers to airplanes. As long as these devices are connected to the internet and can exchange data independently, they are considered part of the Internet of Things.
There are an estimated 20 billion connected devices that are part of the IoT today. The reason for its popularity is its importance in communication. Today, we can connect simple everyday objects such as household appliances and even cars or buses to the internet and reduce the need for human intervention in exchanging data. As a whole, the IoT is designed to make our lives more convenient and more efficient.
The IoT is made possible by innovative technology such as cloud platforms, connectivity, and machine learning and analytics. With low-cost computer chips and widespread popularity of wireless networks, it’s easier than ever to turn things into a part of the IoT. An integral part of these devices are sensors which add a level of intelligence and allows them to communicate real-time data.
While it might be intuitive to consider smartphones and personal computers as part of the Internet of Things, neither device is actually considered to be. However, an IoT device may be controlled by a smartphone, for example, a thermostat that is controlled by an app on one’s smartphone. The term IoT is mainly used to describe devices we would not expect to have internet connection and can communicate independently.
The Internet of Things has become an integral part of industrial work, manufacturing, transportation, and also healthcare. However, there are concerns regarding the privacy, security, and ethicality of these devices. Many IoT devices have limitations on the computation power available, meaning that it’s not as easy to implement firewalls or cybersecurity systems like it is in a smartphone or computer. Additionally, with devices that are made to monitor habits and data 24/7, concerns over privacy are growing. Nevertheless, safety is taken very seriously and the Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF) was created in 2015 in order to secure the IoT and spread awareness about proper usage. There are a multitude of resources and organizations that also aim to secure the IoT.
The Internet of Things has transformed the way that we communicate with devices and go about daily activities. Devices have increasingly become smaller and smarter due to emerging machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms. The IoT will continue to evolve in the future, and we can only speculate what new advancements will emerge.