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Everything You Need to Know About IoT

Written by Wilson Amplifiers
12th Feb 2021

The Ultimate Guide to the Internet of Things (IoT)

We live in an interconnected world. As we heavily rely on technology to make our lives more convenient and fulfilling, we're continually integrating it in ways once thought to be impossible.

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Device integration is the reason you can adjust your lights and your thermostat via your smartphone. It’s the reason you can control your washing machine, your coffee maker and your kitchenware, even when you’re miles away from home. It’s also how businesses can get credible and insightful data that helps them make decisions and transform their practices.

With everything device integration has done for us, many wonder how people and businesses wield this kind of technological power. That power comes from the Internet of Things (IoT), which provides the interconnectivity, functionality and security necessary to enhance device integration and provide a simpler way of living.

What exactly is IoT?

IoT gives us the ability to connect our devices to anything that has an on or off switch. It’s the physical network of devices linked through sensors, software and the world wide web that gives businesses and consumers the ability to connect to various devices, automate tasks and share large amounts of data.

Even before IoT was available to the general public, early tech entrepreneurs had visions of everyday objects that people could control and communicate with.

The History of IoT

IoT came along shortly after the first computers were invented in the 1950s. IoT's inception began as part of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), which eventually switched its name to ARPANET in 1969. Eventually, commercial service providers began promoting ARPANET-centered technologies, introducing the concept of integrated devices, and the internet itself, to the private sector.

One of the biggest IoT advancements came in the early 1980s, when members of Carnegie Mellon’s computer science department began placing micro-switches in Coke vending machines and connected them to their PDP-10 departmental computer. The experiment allowed them to see how many bottles were still in the machine and whether they were cold or not, creating one of the first IoT prototypes that would ultimately change the world.

Then, in 1991, someone at Xerox published a paper called "The Computer for the 21st Century." The piece highlighted how different hardware and software elements connected by wires and radio waves could unknowingly transform people’s lives.

Today, IoT technology is available to almost anyone, even though most people still haven’t heard of it.

IoT and 5G

We can’t highlight the significance of IoT without discussing 5G, as 5G will ultimately make full device integration possible. With its diverse speed ranges, bandwidth levels and high service quality standards, it can accelerate and maintain a fully integrated system of devices. It’s currently available to consumers in the United States. And for some countries, like China, South Korea and Norway, it’s already the standard network that most citizens use.

While 5G became widely available to Americans in 2020, it will take awhile for the majority of them to transfer over, as 5G network access can be expensive. Because of this, most consumers and some businesses may be hesitant to switch their network contracts over right away. 4G allows for some IoT capacity, but if people want a more fully integrated lifestyle, 4G doesn’t have the bandwidth level to provide that.

Why is IoT so popular?

Since the late '90s, IoT has continually evolved to meet ever-changing market demands. Millions of people rely on IoT daily to do everything from carrying out the most basic tasks to solving the world’s most complex problems.

Because IoT is so heavily reliant on our devices, it can make even the smallest of daily chores less burdensome and time-consuming. Anything from changing the temperature in your house to checking for expired foods in your fridge can be automated with the power of IoT.

Businesses also utilize IoT. In many cases, it can help companies collect relevant and accurate data, increase workplace efficiency and make better decisions. There's a reason so many are spending billions of dollars on IoT integration every year. Along with data collection, many companies like IoT for its data storage capabilities. In the past, companies typically relied on internal server data storage. But with IoT, companies, especially larger ones, can store their data in the cloud using a third-party like Amazon Web Solutions or Google Cloud. That way, they don’t have to waste their time, energy and money on tampering with an internal server.

IoT could even be responsible for creating new business models. Some companies are choosing to integrate IoT not just to enhance their operations, but to improve customer relationships as well. IoT can do this by personalizing communication, providing quicker and safer deliveries and expanding customer support channels.

What does the future hold for IoT?

The possibilities are endless. According to a recent report, IoT machines and sensors will generate more than 79 Zettabytes of data by 2025. Plus, investors expect to see IoT's compound annual growth expand by more than 20% over the next four years.

As advancements expand in industrial internet capabilities, IoT could propel us lightyears ahead of our time. With improvements in network agility and integrated artificial intelligence, businesses and consumers alike will have the ability and capacity to utilize groundbreaking, secure and simple IoT applications with their devices.

We're already seeing daily use of IoT infused products. Things like Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apple Smartwatch are all prime examples of the role IoT plays in the modern world. Smart homes are another example. Most homes aren’t 100% integrated yet, but that could change in the coming years. According to Time magazine, 63 million American households will qualify as smart homes by 2022.

Here are some other ways IoT is shaping the facets of daily living and what that could make our future look like:

  • Smart cities - Businesses and consumers aren’t the only ones investing in IoT. Many cities in the United States and around the world are also harnessing its integration capabilities. Boston is one of the first American metros to experiment with smart initiatives. These initiatives are part of a plan to support “participatory urbanism," which allows citizens to use mobile applications to enhance their communities. They can do things like report vandalism and potholes, and even track the location of their children’s school bus through IoT integrated features. And in Dubai, the emirate city is looking to digitize its government services. Over the next several years, it plans to make nearly 90 different government services available using one app. Some of those services include urban planning, economic assistance, transportation, infrastructure and even electricity-related services.
  • Smart cars - 5G is already creating a catalyst for the auto industry. But when you add IoT capabilities, your car’s internal system can transfer data even faster than before. What features will smart cars have? You may not think about it, but since the late '70s/early '80s, consumer vehicles already have computers built into them, which can transmit codes to communicate various notifications about your vehicle, like your oil, car battery or check-engine light. With the combined power of IoT and 5G, these elements could help fuel the advancement of driverless cars and make them safer for people to use; however, this may take some time to fully develop. Soon, you may see cars that can transfer data about themselves to your phone or another device. For instance, let's say you're on a road trip, and all of a sudden, your check engine light comes on. Instead of finding a random auto shop, your car can process the error codes and send them to your phone. This can give you a better idea of the issue your vehicle is having. Once that issue has been established, your smartphone or other device can guide you to the nearest, highest-rated auto shop in your area if you want someone to look at your vehicle.
  • More secure modem/routers - For the devices currently in your home, your Wi-Fi password may be enough to protect them. But as IoT continues to further integrate our lives, it may not be enough. Fortunately, many industries and companies that work with IoT understand the potential security risks. They also recognize consumers' and businesses' concerns with hackers tampering with their systems, which may have sensitive or confidential information. Over the next few years, we'll likely see a new wave of modems/routers with enhanced cybersecurity features on the market designed to keep your smart devices out of the hands of cybercriminals and hackers.
  • Why is IoT important?

    Both consumers and companies share a similar goal: reduce unnecessary and excess work to make life easier. IoT devices can do this by providing relief through automation. IoT expansion unleashes the potential to impact other domains of our lives we never thought possible. It harnesses these capabilities through electronically controlled, interconnected systems. These systems can allow essential home utilities like your fridge, thermostat, security setup and even your fireplace to be connected to a central hub and controlled through your device.

    Here are a few examples of what some of these things can do with IoT technology:

  • Make better decisions - Because IoT can collect an abundance of data, people have more current and accurate information available at their fingertips. By using this abundance of data, you can make quicker, better and more intelligent decisions. For instance, with a smart refrigerator, your fridge can tell you which foods are OK to eat, which ones are about to expire and which ones are already past expiration. Or, IoT can let you automatically adjust the thermostat in your house based on weather forecast data. That way, you wouldn’t have to go out of your way to make any of these adjustments yourself.
  • Increase efficiency - IoT can help people increase efficiency, saving them time and money they’d rather spend elsewhere. For instance, if you walk out of a room where the lights turn off automatically, that can help you reduce money on your electricity bills every month. It can also recognize a need before you even recognize it yourself. For instance, if you're running low on milk in your fridge, your smart fridge can communicate that data to a grocery delivery service that brings you a fresh carton, allowing you to focus on something more enjoyable than grocery shopping. This fridge feature is not something most people have in their homes yet. Still, it can give you a clearer picture of the benefits and convenience IoT smart integration could provide.
  • Track and monitor the quality of items - IoT can track more than just the food in your fridge. It can also monitor the quality of other items in your home and notify you when to replace those items. For instance, let's say your washer/dryer system isn't working the way it's supposed to. IoT technology can alert you when something isn't working correctly, almost like the car's check engine light. That way, you don't have to take time out of your day to inspect it.
  • Make remote work more seamless - IoT doesn’t just make our home lives comfortable. It can make them easier at work too, as many people are working remotely for the foreseeable future. Throughout 2020, people have had to learn how to collaborate with colleagues who may be far away. For those who’ve started new jobs in the past year, they've had to learn how to collaborate with coworkers and managers via Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype. Since this may be the norm for many, even after the pandemic is over, IoT can help innovate the remote work sphere for the current moment and beyond. It will allow for continuous productive collaboration for many, even when some workers have to start going back into the office.
  • Place more emphasis on cybersecurity protection

    Modem/routers are only one aspect of cybersecurity that IoT integration will promote. Security isn’t just a primary concern for consumers. They’re a concern for businesses as well. As a result, there will be a higher demand for IoT security devices for both businesses and consumers to protect them from hackers and other cybersecurity threats. There are already several products and services that can enact and enforce these types of protections. A few of those include:

    • Hostile web traffic and breach attempt software
    • Self-installed wireless home security systems
    • Network and cloud censor software
    • Malware and ransomware blocks
    • Denial of service attack protection software
    • Cellular and RF remediation detection systems
    • Core power Wi-Fi routers

    IoT Will Enhance People's Quality of Life

    The capabilities and benefits that IoT can provide don't come without a purpose. They can improve people's quality of life in ways they would’ve never imagined.

    The demand for device integration is increasing because of how IoT can help people in their personal and professional lives. When people have the power to secure IoT connections at home and work, they can place more of their focus on things they would rather do. For the general public, that may mean more time relaxing with friends and family because their integrated devices can help them complete menial chores. For business leaders, IoT can help them focus on long-term goals rather than wasting time and money on dull but necessary administrative tasks.

    IoT and Signal Boosters

    If you’re interested in IoT integration for your home or business, it can be hard to figure out where to start. With your current setup, you may find yourself running into slow cellular connection speeds and spotty Wi-Fi reception, which can hinder your ability to make IoT integration work for you.

    Fortunately, a reliable signal booster can act as a catalyst for your internet speed, allowing you to integrate without your outdated setup slowing you down. The type of signal booster you’ll want will typically depend on your coverage area. Whether you’re wanting to improve M2M communication, cover a 1- or 2-bedroom apartment, a 7,500-square-foot house or an entire office building, there are plenty of options available on the market for you to choose from.

    Moving forward with IoT

    Our world is becoming more interconnected than ever before. And as we find new ways to innovate IoT and make it safe, secure and affordable for everyone, it will be exciting to see what the future holds. But until then, we can be grateful for the resources and convenience IoT-integrated devices provide us right now. And as the world becomes more digitized, we will ultimately need those devices even more than we do today.

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