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A beginner’s guide to the Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT 101: breaking it down for you, if you're a non-techie

When I first heard “Internet of Things”, I actually thought this was a phrase meaning something like, “Hey, the internet is cool because it’s full of stuff!”. But, I later found out how incredibly wrong I was.

The Internet of Thing (or “IoT”) is a theory of total smart device connectivity to help change our daily lives. This includes any object with an on/off switch becoming “Smart” and connected. Think of the Simpsons’ Ultrahouse 3000 episode only less evil?

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So let’s get started on a quick Internet of Things  (IoT) 101

What is IoT?

I first found an incredibly helpful video from IBM Think Academy that explained in an easy yet precise way how the IoT works. The goal is to live in a more connected world with millions and millions of connected items worldwide.

Sophisticated chips are in items we use every day and they are used to transmit valuable data. This data is supposed to help us understand how things work as well as how they work together.  This process starts with devices that connect to a larger platform of data integration. The platform then applies data analytics so the information can go towards the applications that need certain pieces of this information.

Why do companies want to invest in it?

Companies believe that the Internet of Things is a big new world that can prove to be quite profitable. Not only will it potentially save money in the long run but it can make life easier for everybody from the CEO to the employees to the consumers.

Are companies already investing in it?

Yes! There’s plenty of big names that have already joined this race of who gets it right and makes it big with IoT first.

While on Youtube, the top advertisement for “Internet of Things” was from Goldman Sachs. They are investing in the upcoming 5G network which can get internet speeds up to 100x faster than 4G.

AT&T, a major American phone and internet company, is also heavily investing in the Internet of Things philosophy.

In fact, there are many wide-area networks that AT&T hopes to help customers tap into such as satellite, broadband cellular, and LTE-M. They boast having over 120 modules for IoT consumers to tap into.

Microsoft is hoping to venture into a more connected world with their customers as well.

Azure IoT Suite is Microsoft’s primary opportunity for businesses to join in on.

 “IoT is about making your data come together in new ways. Tap into data with IoT dashboards. Uncover actionable intelligence. And modernize how you do business.” – Microsoft

Why is there so much buzz around it?

These endeavors are designed to help the world be more time-efficient and successful.

The relationship between humans and “smart” things will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things in the future.

Years ago, people were thinking about smartphone and smartwatch integration, but now we have things like the Apple watch and the Fitbit.

People used to dream of having a place beyond the computer to save photos. Most people use (or are aware of) Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or iCloud in their daily lives.

Will this be a game-changer for us?

We know there are options based on the Internet of Things philosophy that are already interconnected. There are even more ideas and opportunities that humanity has not even tapped into yet.

Unfortunately, there is one major deterrent to people wanting to have everything connected in their lives. People fear living in an Orwellian society; we all want privacy.

How can companies provide protection against hacking when things are so interconnected?

The results of a hack could be absolutely life-changing and devastating if they fall into the wrong hands.

When compromising photos of celebrities were leaked anonymously on 4chan from their iCloud accounts years ago during the “Celebgate”, people started to really reflect the safety of these projects. On a related note, BBC did a study back in 2014 over how difficult it is for hackers to hack into a home full of smart devices; it was not as hard as the researchers hoped.

In this experiment, researchers were the most shocked to find out how easy it was to hack into the microphone of the smart TV and pick up on any sound in the living room. Thankfully, most companies have hackers hired just to find out the security flaws in these devices.

From security concerns to cloud databases, the Internet of Things has several things for us to contemplate. So far, I have not personally decided if the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to the Internet of Things, but I have learned a lot.

Let The Tempest know if you’re a fan or not when it comes to the Internet of Things!