Rather than making things complicated, you will find that the IoT can be described simply. The IoT is all about allowing devices to connect online, allowing them to talk to each other, to applications and to us. The most common example to describe the IoT is a smart fridge that knows when your milk is out of date or that you have no milk and then acts upon this information. You may receive a text message informing you that have no milk or that your milk is out of date, or it may even be that the smart fridge is able to connect with an app or online account and actually order new milk.
It may be that you already have applications of The Internet of Things taking place in your home and you just don’t realise it. In the United Kingdom, the most common use of IoT, so far at least, centres on home heating and energy consumption. There has been support from this technology from the Government, who have pressurised energy firms to provide smart metres. There are many different devices to choose from and some work in different or even multiple ways.
There is a growing ability for people to turn on or access their heating remotely, commonly through apps on their tablet or smartphone devices. There are smart metres that can gauge the temperature, either by linking to an app or sensor, and will adjust the heating levels according to the temperature. There are even some smart devices that through the use of motion-sense cameras can tell if you are not at home, and will make a decision on whether to turn the heating off or not. All of these actions come under the IoT banner and they are all ways in which people’s lives can be made an awful lot easier.
While the capabilities of the devices and this technology is important in the home (with many people also benefiting from being able to record their favourite TV shows while being out of the home or controlling music playback devices from all around and outside the property), the long-term focus and hope for IoT comes on its use across smart cities, helping whole communities to benefit. The evolution being made with respect to home owners and their devices is important enough its own right, helping home-owners to enjoy a more comfortable and efficient home but the advances being made in these areas may also help entire cities or local area to enjoy a more effective and pleasant lifestyle.
When it comes to rolling out the IoT to a wider audience, some of the most common examples include connected traffic lights and signs that are able to monitor utility use to allow for a more efficient flow of traffic. Another area that will be of benefit to individuals and local authorities is the notion of smart bins. These devices will send a signal when they need to be emptied, ensuring that efficient waste management can be undertaken.
Understanding the capabilities of IoT on a small scale allows people to dream and think bigger. You can imagine the benefit to major companies and industries about being informed about the need to replace parts or to even monitor the growth and development of much needed items. Whether a farmer or company is keen to measure the growth of crops to monitoring the progress of items being delivered, the IoT is set to transform lives and businesses in a hugely effective manner.