IoT is a term used to refer to daily-use devices which are connected to the Internet.
Fridges, washing machines, coffee machines, air conditioners, buildings, cars and entire cities. Every physical object that we can imagine could be connected to the Internet for sending and receiving data, interacting with one another and executing tasks.
Thanks to cheaper, faster and low energy cost advances on microcontrollers, the interconnection of physical objects by different communication protocols is now possible.
There are endless possible applications for this new trend that go from the user’s comfort when turning on an air conditioner before arriving home, to reducing electricity consumption in an entire city. (Smart cities)
Some projections show that in a 2020 future world, the amount of physical objects connected to the Internet will be 50 billion.
Building an entire IoT solution
In every IoT project, there are two important elements: hardware and software, one more important than the other.
As I’ve said at the beginning, the microcontrollers technology has advanced in reducing size and energy consumption and has also allowed ethernet / wireless connection support.
By combining microcontrollers with different sensor inputs it is possible to build an entire platform to collect data from the environment.
There are a lot of well-known companies offering hardware solutions, like Microchip, Intel, Samsung, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Libelium, Espresso, and a lot of new and innovative startups which combine Open Hardware solutions with the help of the community.
On the software side, the idea is offering support to interconnect the devices, provide ways to collect, show, and store all data from sensors and actuators, generally with a cloud solution. Some aspects could be considered, like security in critical applications and the use of light communication protocols to reduce energy consumption.
Amazon, IBM, and Google offer cloud solutions and tools to implement your own platform, also some companies offer implemented solutions ready to use directly and in that way reduce costs during the prototype stage.
This is just the beginning
There is an entire universe of possible applications related with IoT and a lot of market niches.
Also from the developer’s side (or hardware enthusiasts), new protocols and technologies are appearing and offering new challenges to interconnect each object of our real life.
I should like to conclude with a quote, from Eric Schmidt (Ex-Ceo of Google) predicting a nearby future in which IoT will be really important:
“The Internet will disappear, there will be so many IP addresses … so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”