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IoT: What is it and what does it do?

As the term suggests, Internet of Things (IoT) describes various devices (things) connected in a single network (Internet) which allows the collection and transfer of data between these devices. This feature extends internet connectivity from standard electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, and televisions to relatively dumb devices such as toasters, water bottles, and light bulbs.

Picture source: towardsdatascience.com

IoT’s ability to collect and transfer data makes virtually everything connected in the network "smart," by increasing the convenience levels of our daily lives with the power of data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and cloud-based functions.

To better understand how IoT functions, let us look at some of its unique features:

Real-time capabilities

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The constant communication of data between IoT devices enables these devices to react accordingly to the data collected, in real-time. manufacturers to improve the quality of their product in real-time.

An example is the Smart Home concept, where various devices such as light bulbs, CCTVs, and even plug points are connected to the same network, allowing them to turn off/on automatically according to a set of predetermined parameters set by the user.

Let’s say you want the kitchen light to automatically turn on at 7pm every day for you to begin preparing dinner, just set it up using an application on your mobile phone and you’re good to go. The same principle can also be applied too all the other IoT-enabled electronic appliances.

Some thermometers also contain IoT sensors to capture environmental data such as temperature which can then be conveyed to a heating/cooling device which will react automatically according to the data.

Increased convenience

IoT can improve customer satisfaction by monitoring equipment for potential problems and malfunctions. This is done through the constant communication of data and in some advanced applications, enables the manufacturer/service provider to predict possible problems before they even begin to surface.

Once a problem is detected, a warning will be sent to the relevant authorities for them to take further action. This negates the need for customers to contact support desks, while prompting faster and more efficient responsive actions by relevant authorities.

Monitoring and tracking

The ability to constantly monitor and track personal valuables can lead to the increase of security, even when not physically present. You can now monitor your home using smart CCTVs, making it easier to alert the authorities in emergency situations. With further customisation, these smart cameras can be linked to an emergency response service provider or an alarm for higher security levels. This allows the relevant authorities to be automatically notified in cases of emergency without you needing to act.

Certain vehicles also come with a tracking system which allows you to track it if it is stolen and can also be used in daily routines such as parking – in case you forgot where you parked.

Data-driven decisions

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Most importantly, IoT allows users to make informed decisions based purely on data captured and analysed from the various “things” connected to the network. This enables businesses to continuously increase their performance and productivity based on latest trends, their workforce’s capabilities, and consumer demands while people can use these data to improve various aspects of their lifestyle.

One common example, in terms of fitness, has witnessed the rising popularity of wearables such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, and heart rate monitors which provides detailed information regarding health. Fitness junkies can use these data to plan their workout, manage their sleep cycle and most importantly, lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

The examples mentioned in this article is just a fraction of what IoT can do for our benefit. IoT can be integrated into existing devices and processes to enhance readily available infrastructures and services without causing much disruption while keeping costs to a minimum. When coupled with other Industry 4.0 technologies such as BDA and AI, IoT can be leveraged to realise Smart Homes, Smart Cities and Smart Nations.

*Featured image sourced from: vizah.ch

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