The IoT first and foremost is an umbrella term that covers a vast reality of ‘things,’ technologies (sensors and actuators, communication technologies, applications, IoT gateways, IoT platforms, etc.) and goals across a massive range of industries and so-called IoT use cases. In this overview of the IoT for beginners, you will discover why it’s an umbrella term and an introduction to what the IoT is — in practice. If you are looking for data and evolutions: there’s an infographic with more stats for your comfort at the bottom.
The focus on associated devices and endpoints in the IoT
The IoT enables the next stage of the Internet, whereby active devices and other endpoints get connected by Internet technology.
In the IoT, each endpoint/device has a unique IP address. Internet of T endpoints are the ‘things’ at the edge of an Internet of Things network, which have an IP address. This involves consumer devices like smart fitness trackers and intelligent pieces of hardware with software that are embedded in or attached to things to add them to the Internet of Things or make them ‘IoT-enabled.’ The endpoint is addressable in IoT.
Simply stated the unique IP address of an endpoint enables us to identify it through the Internet and retrieve and/or send data to/from it. Let us take a look at some of them as devices and endpoints are often the focus of how the IoT is explained to beginners, even if there is far more to it as you will see.
Consumer devices in the IoT
Patterns of devices and endpoints, which typically are considered in the context of the IoT for beginners include consumer products for different applications.
These, among others, incorporate smart home automation, personal healthcare, connected cars, entertainment, and home appliances.
This combination of consumer products is also called the Consumer Internet of Things (CIoT). The Consumer IoT part is smaller than the parts of industry and business. However, this is constantly changing, and by 2020 in some areas, growth in consumer-grade devices and applications will outpace various traditional biggest growers.
Business and industry ‘things’ in the IoT
Some applications in industry and business are better known to beginners than others.
Examples of endpoints and devices for industry and business applications involve smart street lights, IoT-enabled digital signage in retail stores and a wide range of industry-grade devices that allow automation and connected, intelligent applications in manufacturing, healthcare, smart cities, logistics and more.
The IoT in an industry context is also called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The IIoT is the major segment (in terms of projects and spending) with production leading the way in the circumstances of what is called ‘Industry 4.0‘.
What is unique about the things in the Internet of Things?
The endpoints, ‘things,’ physical devices, sensors, and controllers are the best-known part of the IoT as they are the most visible, absolutely in consumer applications.
This is where we also notice most articles about the Internet of Things for beginners: the visible part of the things and devices.
What is so special about them? Depending on the purposes why they are built, IoT endpoints and devices have different sensors, whereby essentially everything can be monitored; from moisture, movement, temperature levels and location to the most complicated environmental factors (e.g., CO2 levels).
As they can also be related to the Internet thanks to their inherent connectivity features, IP address and a broad range of fix and wireless communication networks, they give the possibility to inject a wide range of data into applications.
Moving away from the device focus of the IoT for beginners: when it gets interesting
While the devices and things get the most attention, the exciting part starts when we go from devices and connectivity to data, outcomes, actions, and applications.
IoT data and applications in the function of actions, value, and goals
The previously specified applications are often in the cloud and can involve consumer applications, Internet of Things platforms for business and custom-made or proprietary tools for specific purposes.
Except for some straightforward IoT applications, the data which is aggregated and sent by the Internet of Things devices have little meaning.
IoT data enhances meaningful in the context of
- the reason why it gets obtained,
- the analysis of the data,
- the insights that are generated through analysis and
- the actions which are taken as a consequence.
That is where the original value of the IoT sits. It is not in the fact that things can sense, send, and/or receive data. It is in the results and goals which are realized.
Why the Internet of Things is an umbrella term
As there are so multiple different types of ‘things’, all built for a specific reason, and so many kinds of sensors, gateways, protocol, IoT operating systems, applications, communication technologies, areas of application and, most of all goals and results in myriad industries and use cases, the IoT is really an umbrella term.
This indicates that when we speak about the IoT, it gets an entirely different meaning, depending on the context.
The most reliable way to make this umbrella term dimension clear for beginners is by seeming at some typical IoT use cases.