Internet of Things (IoT)
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the term used to explain the connection between tangible everyday objects and the Internet. It refers to things ranging from home appliances to smart cities.
This connection translates into an exchange of data between devices over the Internet, which is useful for gathering information on uses and performances to establish patterns and improve efficiency and the user experience. This way, the different devices that are part of people’s daily lives keep adjusting better and better to their needs and make day-to-day life easier. Self-driving vehicles and smartphones are a few examples of the IoT.
How does the Internet of Things work?
Systems based on IoT are based on integrated smart devices, such as processors, hardware, and software in charge of collecting, processing, transferring, and acting in the environments where they operate. This information is shared over wireless networks, and human intervention is limited to establishing configuration rules.
The process is called machine to machine (M2M) – that is, two machines communicate with each other via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cable, doing the work of transferring information. Interconnected devices generate relevant information for users’ benefit.
What advantages and disadvantages does IoT offer?
In addition to the ordinary user, more and more companies and institutions are turning to the Internet of Things as an opportunity to improve their processes and operations. The main advantages include:
- Constant connection to the network: this is its biggest advantage because it offers continuous access to everything available on the Internet.
- Increased efficiency and productivity: Thanks to the IoT, multiple tasks can be executed in a comfortable, fast, efficient way, increasing productivity.
- Energy savings and sustainable processes: controlled automation of processes means lower consumption and higher energy savings. This is the case with air conditioning in homes where IoT devices regulate the house’s internal temperature based on the outside temperature.
- Process automation: this facilitates finishing tasks without the need for human intervention.
- Communication with the everyday environment: through the IoT, information becomes immediate action, allowing the execution of day-to-day activities – such as opening doors from mobile phones or receiving helpful information depending on the user’s geolocation (for example, details about accidents or traffic jams).
Though they couldn’t be considered disadvantages, the Internet of Things has a few limitations for users. These include the investment in acquiring equipment with this technology, the lack of compatibility between specific devices with different operational systems, and the risk of cyberattacks when information shared on the network is not encrypted.
Can the IoT be used for sustainability?
There is no doubt that the Internet enables sustainable initiatives. According to the World Economic Forum, 75% of projects with the Internet of Things focus on energy efficiency in cities, sustainable energy, and responsible consumption. For example:
- IoT and energy efficiency. In this sector, sensors, algorithms, and communication networks are interconnected to foresee the electricity demand and thus achieve sustainable distribution of energy to reduce the kW price. A study by the World Economic Forum estimates that there will be energy consumption savings of over one billion MWh by 2030.
- IoT and water use. This technology runs machines to collect data in real-time and thus allows efficient water use and lower consumption. Sensors capable of measuring soil moisture, as well as forecasting rainfall, are activated to determine the appropriate time and amount of water for irrigation systems.
How is the IoT being used?
According to the Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT Device and Data Forecast study, there will be more than 41 billion connected devices by 2025.
Today, it is estimated that around 100 million homes worldwide have smart assistants that can make calls, play music, order food from home, start the car, make purchases online, recommend recipes, and do thousands of other functions, all activated through voice command.
In France, waste management trucks have M2M SIM cards to connect them to the group’s centers via voice commands.
The Spanish city of Santander uses the IoT to control people’s movement, their energy consumption, and access to emergency services according to their geolocation through sensors.