Internet of Things or IoT is another one of those buzz words that gets the nerd community excited along with AI, VR, Machine Learning, Blockchain and Autonomous vehicles.

But Internet of Things is a concept that is already making its presence felt will be more and more visible all around us in the coming years.

In simple terms, IoT refers to devices that are internet-enabled and can ‘talk’ to other devices. More technically, it is a network of smart devices that have sensors and can communicate data to a server or other smart devices connected to the network.

The first ever smart device was rather simple – a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University, which could report inventory and whether the drinks were cold or not. Since then the concept has grown and includes machine learning, advanced sensors, real-time data analysis, wireless sensor networks, automation and so on.

It is widely believed in the tech industry that IoT will have a large impact on the way we live and work in the coming decades. According to some sources, $6 billion will be invested into IoT systems and this investment will generate $13 trillion by 2025. Gartner, Inc estimates that there will be nearly 20.8 billion devices on the IoT by 2020. Some other agencies believe that number would be even higher – possibly double of that. Regardless, there is no doubt that your life will change with IoT. Chances are you have already seen and interacted with an IoT device without even knowing. 

Imagine that you have to go to a meeting. Now your car has access to your calendar and it has already figured out the best route to take depending upon the traffic conditions. If you are running late, it might even send a text alert to the other attendees at the meeting about the delay.

In the context of IoT, there are various terms that might help you understand the concept. An IoT device is a device connected to the internet that can be monitored and controlled from a remote location. IoT ecosystem comprises all the components that include hardware and software – for example, devices, sensors, networks, gateways, analytics, security and data storage. Analytics are software that analyse data generated by IoT devices for further processing. 

The industries which will gain from IoT will be transportation, infrastructure, healthcare, logistics, agriculture and utilities. Some of the major players that are heavily investing in IoT are Cisco, IBM, Amazon, Google, GE, Texas Instruments, Microsoft, Iridium Communications, Hitachi among others.

Already many of the IoT platforms are gaining momentum which serves to connect data networks and the devices. Some of them are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Cisco IoT Cloud connect, Salesforce IoT Cloud and GE Predix.

Examples:

Smart Homes: A networked home where devices can communicate and share data with each other. Already there is a plethora of such devices and companies such as Philips, Belkin, Google, Haier, and Amazon to name a few have taken a lead in this sphere. Remember Nest Thermostat? It is connected to the internet, it monitors your energy consumption and can help save up to 15 per cent on heating and cooling bills.

Another product that has become popular is Philips Hue. The ‘smart’ bulb gives you 600 to 800 colour lumens. You can control it through an app on your smartphone and set mood lighting.

Another relatively new product that has gained a lot of traction in a short time is Amazon Echo – an always on personal assistant that listens to you with built-in microphone. You can command it to answer your questions, play music, play news and even ask it to switch on your Philips Hue bulb. 

Also, almost every wearable device(think Fitbit) collects your activity data silently, analyses it and gives you a report on your health and fitness activities.

There are hundreds of other products in diverse industries currently being tested, perfected and soon they will be ready for commercial mass production. Brace yourself as Internet of Things takes over your life and makes it better.