What is the IoT (Internet of Things)?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of connected objects that collect and share data about how they are used and about the environment around them. The Internet is what connects all these objects or “things”. The biggest advantage of the IoT is that a lot of manual processes can be automated. Devices may also notice differences and adapt their programs accordingly. Over time, our energy consumption decreases, we waste fewer products and improve production processes. In this article we give a definition: What is the IoT?

What is IoT – the smart devices on the internet of things

To understand what the Internet of Things is, we first look at the Internet itself. The Internet is a collection of computers, servers, smart phones and tablets connected by IP addresses. The IoT also wants devices with no (computer) screen to communicate with each other. The things of the Internet of Things have built-in wireless connectivity, so that they can be monitored, controlled and connected to the Internet (via a mobile app). There they can exchange data that is collected from the surrounding environment of things. They do this with the help of sensors, processors and communication hardware.

What is IoT – smart devices that collect data

The devices can monitor their environment, transmit statuses, receive instructions and take action themselves based on the information they receive. They can also sometimes talk to other related devices and respond to the information they get from each other. People can communicate with things to set them up, give instructions or access the data, but things do most of their work without human intervention. The IoT therefore consists of all “connected” or “smart” devices with Internet access that collect, send and act on data.

What is IoT – smart devices that make autonomous decisions

IoT makes the world around us smarter by allowing devices to communicate with each other. In 1939 Philco released a device with which you could change the channels and the volume of your radio. That, however, is not a smart device, but a remote control. Smart devices are not about operating a device, but about communication between devices without the user having to do anything. The (semi-)intelligent devices on the IoT can communicate with people and other objects, and are able to make autonomous decisions. In other words: with the IoT, everyday objects become an entity on the Internet, that can communicate with people and with other objects, and that can make autonomous decisions.

What is IoT – examples of smart devices

In essence, each device with an on / off switch can be connected to the Internet. The IoT includes things of all shapes and sizes – from smart microwaves, which cook your food automatically for the right amount of time, to autonomous cars, whose complex sensors detect objects on their path, to portable exercise machines that measure your heart rate and the number of steps you take each day and use that information to draw up personal training schedules. An estimated 1.9 billion devices are already connected to the IoT. And as IoT continues to grow in the coming years, more devices will be added to that list.

What is IoT – the difference with M2M

Some companies use machines that talk to each other without the involvement people. These machines monitor processes. This is called M2M, which stands for machine-2-machine. The terms M2M and IoT are sometimes used interchangeably. But some argue that M2M is the communication between machines without involving people. In that case IoT is the communication between machines and people.

This article is part of a series.

Read more:

Part 1 – What is AI (Artificial Intelligence): An introduction
Part 2 – What is VR (Virtual Reality): An introduction
Part 3 – What is AR (Augmented Reality): An introduction
Part 4 – What is a smart city: An introduction
Part 5 – Machine learning, neural networks and deep learning explained
Part 6 – What is machine learning: An introduction
Part 7 – What is a neural network: An introduction 
Part 8 – What is deep learning: An introduction
Part 9 – What are serious games: An introduction
Part 11 – How do smart devices work: sensors, IoT, Big Data and AI
Part 12 – What is climate change: An introduction

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