Most of us today own something that is “smart”. It may be a smartwatch, a smart refrigerator, TV or even Amazon’s Alexa. What makes these devices smart is that they connect to the internet and can be used to monitor functions, collect data or control the device remotely.

Most businesses around the globe are using IoT in some way or other. If you have not made any digital transformations to your business in the past, it may be the best time to begin with the Internet of Things solutions.

But if you are wondering about how this technology is making the world a better and a more “convenient” place, let’s get started from the beginning.

Internet of Things History

The term Internet of Things (IoT) was coined in the year 1999 by Kevin Ashton but it did not gain popularity until 2010.

This was when Kevin worked in Procter & Gamble’s supply chain optimization. In order to attract the senior management’s attention towards a technology called RFID, he leveraged the popularity of the word “Internet.” Internet was trending at the time and Kevin thus named his presentation “Internet of Things”. 

Even though he did gain some attention, the response was not what he had quite expected. Ashton believed that RFID was a prerequisite of IoT.

However, the concept of IoT was first visible as early as the 1980s and 1990s. In the early 1980s, a Coca Cola Machine at Carnegie Mellon University was connected by local programmers over the internet. It allowed users to check whether a chilled drink was available in the machine before visiting. 

In 1990, John Romkey invented a toaster that could be turned on and off over the internet.

The concept of IoT started getting popular in 2010 when the information was leaked that Google’s StreetView service had not only taken 360-degree pictures but had also stored tons of data of people’s wifi networks. 

This was seen as an attempt to index the physical world. In the same year, the Chinese government expressed its intentions to make the Internet of Things a strategic priority in its five-year plan. 

In 2011, Gartner included IoT in their list of ‘new emerging phenomena’. 

In 2012, tech-based magazines such as Fast Company, Wired, and Forbes started using the word “Internet of Things” more commonly. The theme of the biggest Internet conference LeWeb that year also was IoT.

In 2013, IDC published a report stating that the IoT market would be an $8.9 trillion market by 2020. 

The term became further popular amongst the masses when Google purchased Nest for $3.2 billion. Around the same time, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was held under the theme of IoT. 

Ever since, this technology has just seen an upward trend and a faster growth than any other technology invented around the same time.

Current Scenario

Today, anything and everything can be connected to the internet, right from your phone refrigerator, television, car or even a pacemaker and so much more. 

This makes it possible to send, receive and collect information which in turn makes the devices intelligent. Along with homes and offices, IoT is being implemented in industries, streets and beyond. 

Based on its application, IoT gets several names like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Machine to Machine (M2M), ubicomp, invasive or pervasive computing.

Nowadays, using smart door lockers, Bluetooth trackers, bike locks, home retrofit, kitchens and other smart home apps make home management easier. Also, it enhances the security of homes, making the older people independent.

Applications of Internet of Things

  • Apps and devices like Amazon dash, Hiku scan grocery lists collaborate with third party delivery agents to restock your pantry. 
  • In fact, IoT has made it possible to count eggs in your refrigerator and find out their health at the comfort of sitting anywhere around the globe. Wondering how is it possible? Well, you only have to use the smart egg tray connected with an app called egg minder. And all the details will be available on your smartphone.
  • Genican, a commercial IoT device is attached to trash cans, monitoring the stuff you have thrown and telling you what you need to restock.
  • IoT enabled monitors and alarms that sense natural gases, carbon monoxide, pollen, temperatures & humidity can detect their high levels and inform admins through the devices to prevent any mishap. 
  • IoT even facilitates healthier living through devices like smart glasses that help you monitor your drinking behavior and the number of calories that you consume per drink. 
  • Inventions like Wi-Fi controlled cookers let you multitask in some other corner of the house. You can turn off the cooker remotely and will even be alerted if you forget that something is cooking. 

The list of applications of IoT is endless. Not only is it limited to commercial use but it also finds its use in industries and enterprises.

IoT Applications in Industries & Enterprises

  • Bosch offers a range of hardware and software for multisensory devices and an asset management offering that monitors and analyzes energy usage on an electrical network. 
  • Cambium Network provides radios with networking capabilities that connect devices across long distances back to their data centers. 
  • Dell has launched IoT connected bundles that give partners market-ready solutions. 
  • Dublin based Eaton uses IoT along with analytics to predict the failure of power components and connected lighting products. This helps in increasing operational efficiencies. 
  • Intel is creating new ways for partners and customers to create IoT solutions through development tools like OpenVINO and programs like IoT market-ready solutions. 

Apart from smart wearables, smart home applications, and software solutions, IoT is also being used extensively to make cities smart. 

How are Smart Cities Using IoT?

  • One example of the Internet of Things is located in the city of Palo Alto in San Francisco. The city uses IoT to store information about parking spaces on the cloud that can be accessed by numerous applications. Drivers can check the status of a particular location and proceed rather than going round and round looking for an empty spot.
  • A smart greenhouse with embedded devices, enabling farmers to control the temperatures and environmental parameters pairs agriculture with technology thus enabling better yields by utilizing less energy, at low cost.
  • Another popular IoT application is smart grids which uses the information about behaviors of electricity suppliers. It stores the data automatically to improve the economics of electricity. Thus, preventing wastage and enabling better utilization. 
  • Car manufacturers are coming up with many IoT backed solutions to make the driving experience smoother, safer and more technologically advanced. Smart supply chains have been introduced providing detailed visibility of products in transit, tracking of shipments, and better inventory control.

All of this is possible due to the mechanism that backs IoT. 

A complete IoT system is an integration of sensors, connectivity, data processing, and a user interface. The sensors collect data from the environment and send it to the cloud where it gets processed and is sent to the user interface. 

Since billions of internet-enabled devices get connected in a huge network, the data from all these devices need to be scalable. Technology standards are fragmented which makes it difficult to move towards a vision of a completely connected interoperable society. 

With an increasing number of devices getting connected to the internet daily, the amount of data in the clouds is increasing exponentially. This, in turn, creates a risk to the security of the data. 

Over the past couple of years, attacks on data have become more sophisticated and have increased in number. This can be owed to the lack of security of the data stored on the clouds which can be easily accessed if one can gain access to the IoT device. 

For example, pacemaker data can be hampered by accessing the data on the cloud and thereby threatening a patient’s life. This can contrarily pose major risks to smart security systems that may have been enabled to secure homes. 

Default credentials that come along with the IoT devices from the manufacturer are sometimes not changed giving hackers a free pass into user devices. 

Cybercriminals have become so advanced these days that they can even lock out owners from using their own devices. If these threats can be contained, global IoT spending is estimated to push past $1 trillion by 2022 which can be attributed to the ever-increasing relevance of IoT solutions.

Future of Internet of Things (IoT)

Due to the availability of so much data, in the upcoming years, AI and Big Data will dominate even IoT. Blockchain technology solutions are being used by consumers, financial and government institutions to make their transactions secure.Likewise, IoT security in the upcoming future can also be enhanced by amalgamating Blockchain with IoT. 

Edge computing will gain more importance concerning IoT as it will facilitate the reduction of traffic to the cloud. Data will first get transferred to a local device closer to the IoT device, processed and then passed on to the cloud.

In the future, it is possible that companies will use all of the technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, IoT and data analytics solutions together to overcome the security concerns.

As IoT keeps expanding it will be used more extensively in healthcare and retail. 

Predictive analytics will boost up by intimating the user interface about the status of the machinery or equipment. IoT trends dependent on the mobile systems will grow and turn into managing the IoT ecosystem.

The present and the future of IoT is very bright. The only disclaimer that it comes with the security concerns need to be addressed. Or else data being the most valuable possession, a system unable to keep it safe won’t survive very long.