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What is Internet of Things?
An Introduction to IOT
The Internet of Things or "IOT" defines the next phase in the evolution of computing, communication and networking. The Things in the IOT can be anything and everything including homes, physical devices, electronic appliances, vehicles, building, medical equipments, robots, gardens, shops and so on. Internet of Things is about creating networks of these physical things and making them intelligent using different sensors, actuators and softwares which enable these things to not only exchange data but also capable of taking decisions by processing the available data.
Some companies like Cisco also define another term "Internet of Everything" as an intelligent connection of people, process, data and things.

The term "Internet of Things" was first coined by a British Entrepreneur Kevin Ashton in the year 1998.

What makes IOT feasible?
A question which might strike your mind is Why Now ? . Well what is it that makes IOT possible or more important now than ever before? Let's look at a few reasons below:
  1. Electronics is cheaper than ever and getting cheaper day by day
  2. Cost of computing is negligible compared to what it used to be 10 years back
  3. Digital Sensors and Actuators are easily available
  4. It is easy to analyze vast amounts of data using Machine Learning techniques
  5. Adding intelligence to devices is much more valuable now than ever before
  6. Internet of Things brings more and more Business Opportunities which is another reason for IOT hype
Technical Details
Technically Internet of Things can be viewed as the realization of 4th layer of the DIKW curve commonly used in the field of knowledge engineering and it states that with IOT we can make things wise which means that physical devices will possess the wisdom to take decisions using the knowledge available to them that comes from the information which in turn comes from the data which is collected by hundreds of different sensors.
As per the general knowledge engineering principle:
"Wisdom is directly proportional to the Data" available.
With hundreds of thousands of embedded sensors the amount of data available will be of the order of peta-bytes which means we can develop truly intelligent systems which need less or no human intervention to operate successfully.
Components of IOT
Following can be considered as one of the possible sets of core components of a typical IOT sytem
  • Sensors: sense physical data and convert it to digital electronic signals
  • Actuators: are electronically controlled components which produce physical effects. An electric motor is an example of an Actuator
  • Wireless connectors: connect 2 or more different electronic components wirelessly. Examples include bluetooth, zigbee, zwave
  • IOT Gateways: IOT gateways generally consist of small and powerful computing modules with inbuilt circuitry to connect to different sensors, actuators and the internet. Examples include raspberry pi, beaglebone, arduino etc
  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs): provides connectivity between IOT Gateways and different cloud platforms
  • Cloud Infrastructure: is where most of the computing takes place. It involves storage, data-analytics, machine learning etc amongst others
This list is by no means a complete list. There are many other components in terms of protocols, services, solutions, software APIs and so on.
Growth of Internet of Things
Different minds across the world predict different numbers when it comes to the growth of IOT Industry. Following are some of the facts about growth of Internet of Things.
  1. Gartner a well known firm predicts number of connected devices to be around 21 billion by 2020
  2. Ericsson says the number will be 28 billion by 2021
  3. Trillions industry. It is predicted that Internet of Things industry will add trillions to the world economy in few years to come
The only certain thing about the Internet of Things industry is that it is a massively growing industry and the growth is expected to multiply every year.
Challenges "Present and Future"
There is an other side to all the hype around the Internet of Things. These are the challenges which stand in the road of the mass acceptance of the internet connected world. While some of the issues are around the privacy concerns of end users of IOT devices others involve the overall security of the IOT devices themselves.
Everyday, the internet is flooded with news of IOT devices being compromised because of security flaws. It is an alarming situation for those willing to put a stake into the industry.
In order to make Internet of Things a mainstream trend, it's important to convert these challenges into opportunities as is already being done by a few start ups and firms which are not only discovering the challenges with Internet of Things but are also trying to create standards both in terms of technology protocols and security standards in order to deliver better solutions to the end users.
Links to Important Resources
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