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What is an IoT Device?

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a bit of a buzzword in technology over the past decade or so. Although Kevin Ashton coined the term in 1999, it wasn’t until 2011 when Gartner added IoT to its list of new emerging technologies. As of 2021, there are 21.7 billion IoT devices in the world, with an expected increase to around 42 billion by 2025.

What is an IoT Device?

What is an IoT device? IoT can refer to essentially any internet-connected device that is not a computer or smartphone. IoT is a broad term that refers to the billions of devices connected to the internet, all of which are constantly collecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.

IoT Device Examples

What is an example of an IoT device? IoT devices are typically part of a wider connected ecosystem where every device talks to other related devices as a means of automating home, or industry-related tasks.

For example, consumer IoT devices in a smart home may include a smart speaker, fridge, TV, and many more kinds of devices, all with ease of use for the consumer in mind. Robotic vacuums that learn which areas of your home to clean, garden sprinklers reacting based on weather forecast, and garage door sensors are all examples of IoT devices in a smart home.

Enterprise IoT devices are typically categorised as edge devices. Enterprise IoT devices on the edge are largely responsible for controlling the data flow at the boundary between two networks. An example of an enterprise IoT device can include smart thermostats, smart lighting and smart heating. Often, examples of IoT devices overlap for enterprise and consumer devices.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) devices are designed to be used in manufacturing and other industrial environments. Typically, IIoT helps to improve efficiency in the manufacturing process, or assists in monitoring the assembly line in a factory. Data is transmitted from different types of sensors in an industrial environment to ensure that processes are running efficiently.

How Does IoT Work?

How does IoT work? IoT devices vary in the way that they function, but they also have some common similarities in how they operate. IoT devices are physical objects designed to have an impact on the real world and physical systems. Many IoT devices connect to a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server and acquire an IP address for the device to function on the network.

Many devices are also configured and managed through a software application such as Tuya where the user can select and edit specific functionalities associated with a device. However, many devices also have their own integrated web servers which means there is no need for an external application or service.

Benefits of IoT

The benefits of IoT are enormous. Safety, efficiency, and opportunity have all underpinned the technological IoT revolution and the industry is still only in its’ infancy.

So, what are the benefits of IoT? With the world being more connected than ever before, it’s rapidly accelerating the pace at which businesses are able to innovate. As a result, mundane tasks that may have previously been labour intensive are now automated. This means that businesses are able to be more efficient in the way that they work, and therefore minimising operational costs.

Secondly, the IoT has massively boosted the safety measures across many businesses, particularly in the industrial setting. Smart devices have helped to minimise human error in complex operational tasks and environments. Additionally, the scheduled maintenance that is driven by many IoT sensors helps to ensure operational safety and regulatory compliance.

For consumers, IoT has fundamentally improved quality of life. By having access to innovative devices and systems, the IoT is allowing consumers to build smart homes to create a more connected and innovative personal life.

Disadvantages of IoT

First and foremost, the introduction of IoT has brought an unprecedented amount of innovation, but also an unprecedented amount of cybersecurity risk. Often, IoT devices are inherently insecure by design. They typically come with default passwords, open ports, and easy backdoors for malicious hackers to exploit. Consumers and businesses now have to take many complex steps to ensure that their devices are as secure as possible.

A second disadvantage of IoT is that the technology is heavily network dependent. This means that, in order for a device to function and communicate as intended, it must have network or Wi-Fi access. While this may not be an intuitive problem, it does mean that many devices lose all functionality if it loses network connection. This can be extremely dangerous if connectivity is lost in a mission-critical setting.

IoT Trends and Growth

As discussed at the beginning, the estimation for future growth of IoT devices is on course to reach 42 billion by 2025. In fact, a more ambitious anticipation from IHS Markit said that the number of connected devices could reach 75.4 billion on 2025, and 125 billion by 2030. Regardless of how accurate the differing projections are, it’s clear to see that the growth of IoT over the next decade will be monumental. In addition to the number of devices, Gartner estimates that the IoT market will hit $1.1 trillion by 2021. It’s a booming industry that is fundamentally changing the way that the world works, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

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