What Is The Internet Of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a phrase that more people are starting to know, but few understand. Put simply, any device that requires an internet connection and has a specific function is part of the IoT ...

At home, this could be your Ring doorbell system, protecting your home with video cameras that can be viewed from anywhere in the world on your smartphone. Alexa, Google Home, Nest, Hive, smart lighting, smart meters, smart homes ... they are all part of the Internet of Things. On average, there are now 40 devices connected to the internet in the average household.

Yes, we have laptops, smartphones and game consoles, but we now also have:

- internet-connected fridges that can reorder food items for you
- kettles you can turn on from your bed in the morning
- TVs that you can change the channel with your voice
- washing machines that can tell you when the wash cycle has finished and request if you want an extra spin and rinse before you get home
- boilers and thermostats that know when you're a mile away and boost your home's temperature ready for your return
- lighting systems that will learn your schedule and turn various lights in your home on and off when you're away
- Indoor and outdoor cameras around the home that turn on and off depending on your proximity to your home

It's all done via the internet, and it's all part of the Internet of Things!

But something I find really useful are the smart sensors that monitor air quality, humidity, temperature, moisture and carbon dioxide let you know when something goes outside of normal parameters. Like original smoke alarms, these IoT connected devices can save lives.

Did you know that in the workplace, a ten per cent increase in CO2 can lead to as much as a 20% drop in productivity? Sensors not only help in monitoring the surroundings, but aid in building design as increased ventilation leads to improved productivity.

One drawback of IoT is that there is not a standard or uniform platform to view all of the outputs from different sensors at this time. Each sensor manufacturer tends to develop their own portal or app so you could end up with twenty different ways to view your data if you purchased sensors from different manufacturers or IoT vendors.

Thankfully, smart speakers like Alexa are becoming voice hubs for these different manufacturers with skills and routines that can inform you when something happens your office or at home.

What other innovations are there? Here are a couple I really like:

- People counting and thermal imaging (non-intrusive, where it counts a person as a number, not a photo) are becoming increasingly used or will be once we are allowed to get back to normal living conditions. These will measure footfall in town centres to allow planners to redevelop areas based on factual and real-time analytics.

- Dustbin sensors that send data via a SIM card to the internet allow waste management companies to only collect waste when the bins are nearly full, saving valuable time and resource in not having to just go round every week.

But remember that good security is an important part of the IoT environment. A casino's entire back office system was hacked by scanning for IoT devices. They found that the internet-connected fish tank feeder did not have a password and was able to gain access into the casino's main network and commit cyber fraud.

Recently, someone insisted that Alexa doesn't have a username and password. This is wrong! Every IoT device, Alexa included, has a username and password, but do remember to log in and change it from the factory default to a secure one or you could be in trouble.

If you feel inspired to find out more then do call me on 07555 807700 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.