IoT – What you should know about the buzzword
The technology in everyday life
Monday morning, 8 am: You get up and your coffee is already freshly prepared. Eggs and milk are ready for your breakfast in the fridge, as the latter bought online for you when supplies ran short. Sensors on your bracelet (also known as wearables) detect that your blood sugar levels are too high, send this information to your doctor and coordinate an appointment for the next week. Cannot find your bag this morning? No problem, your mobile phone has saved the coordinates for you.
We encounter intelligent home appliances (smart home) and application scenarios for everyday life more and more often. Not just as a supposed future concept in the media, but increasingly when we buy electronic products. In the daily working life of different sectors, devices which act independently and can adapt to situations have long since arrived.
The multiplicity of new developments can quickly lead to terminology confusion – because in a time of radical changes, the Internet of Things is by far not the only technological framework that changes and shapes our world.
How a presentation coined the term IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most frequently used keywords in the context of new technologies. This term was coined by technology pioneer and scientist Kevin Ashton. The Briton used the term Internet of Things at the end of the 1990s as an attention-grabbing title in a PowerPoint presentation in which he introduced microchips as a solution to the supply chain issues of his former employer Procter & Gamble (P & G).
In the role of a junior executive he was able to convince his superiors with his presentation. He received financial support for continuous research at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked on an international standard for radio-frequency identification (RFID) and other sensors. He also gave his presentation “The Internet of Things” many more times and is still considered one of the most important experts in this area.
The principle behind the complex applications based on IoT is summarized by Ashton as the following: While computers and machines received information through the manual input of their users before the 21st century, it is now possible for them to understand the world around themselves.
This refers to internet-connected sensors that generate added value. Ashton chooses the example of the multinational transportation network company Uber: Only through smartphones or their sensors the company manages to bring together drivers and passengers with their software.
Kevin Ashton’s view towards the future? He describes the Internet of Things as a 100-year project, without a linear course, with effects that will bring about changes in almost all areas. Transportation, as he says in the video interview, will next be subject to a major disruption (i.e. a major shift or suppression by innovative technologies) – from self-driving cars to commercial vehicles. This will also, according to the expert, change our way of using and developing land.
IoT – the same as …?
Even though approximately 20 years have passed since Ashton’s presentation, there is still no universal definition for the Internet of Things. This also explains why there are often confusions with other concepts, for example:
Against the background of these different technology concepts and ranges, the Internet of Things stands for the microprocessor-controlled communication (e.g. of statuses or environments) of objects via a digital network. Processors and embedded sensors enable everyday objects or machines to communicate with each other via the IP network. The automatic identification by means of RFID is often seen as a technical prerequisite for this. However, objects can also be identified by bar code or 2D code.
Has IoT arrived in companies?
One of the most recent studies on this topic is Vodafone’s 2019 IoT Barometer, which was carried out worldwide. This is the sixth edition of the study by the company.
Above all, the study confirms one thing: it’s not just innovative start-ups who want to engage with IoT and take advantage of this technology. In recent years, corporations and mid-sized companies have increasingly shown that they see the potential – if not a necessity – for IoT implementation. An overview of some of the most interesting study results:
The companies were also questioned world-wide about potential advantages. Among other things, lower operating costs, improved collection of accurate data / insights, higher employee productivity, and increased revenues were indicated.
Whether vehicles, buildings, household appliances or machinery: the range of applications of IoT is huge and affects both the private and the business sector. Making processes simpler and more efficient can play a role as well as developing new business areas with new products – or simply making everyday life easier.
Especially in the last few years, the first successes in the realization of IoT projects were shown by the equipment of numerous objects with embedded processors.
Things certainly remain exciting: The Vodafone study confirms the impression that many consumers are likely to have now. IoT has become an integral part of our lives.
In addition to rapid technological developments, we will also be dealing with risks, the protection of our data and the goals that can be achieved through the technical possibilities.
Last but not least, the Internet of Things creates great possibilities for companies. The opportunities to build a viable IoT strategy and make profitable use of it have never been better. Just as most people now use applications in the cloud as a matter of course (with their mobile phone, for example), the Internet of Things will be hard to do away within a few years.
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