The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. Thanks to cheap processors and wireless networks, it's possible to turn anything, from a light to an aeroplane to a self-driving car into part of the IoT. This adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate real-time data without a human being involved, effectively merging the digital and physical worlds.
Pretty much any physical object can be transformed into an IoT device if it can be connected to the internet and controlled that way.
A lightbulb that can be switched on using a smartphone app is an IoT device, as is a motion sensor or a smart thermostat in your office or a connected streetlight. An IoT device could be as fluffy as a child's toy or as serious as a driverless truck.
How IoT works
An IoT ecosystem consists of web-enabled smart devices that use embedded processors, sensors and communication hardware to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments. IoT devices share the sensor data they collect by connecting to an IoT gateway or other edge device where data is either sent to the cloud to be analyzed or analyzed locally. Sometimes, these devices communicate with other related devices and act on the information they get from one another. The devices do most of the work without human intervention, although people can interact with the devices -- for instance, to set them up, give them instructions or access the data.
The connectivity, networking and communication protocols used with these web-enabled devices largely depend on the specific IoT applications deployed .
What are the benefits of the Internet of Things for consumers?
The IoT promises to make our environment ,our homes and offices and vehicles ,smarter, more measurable, and chattier. Smart speakers like Amazon's Echo and Google Home make it easier to play music, set timers, or get information. Home security systems make it easier to monitor what's going on inside and outside, or to see and talk to visitors. Meanwhile, smart thermostats can help us heat our homes before we arrive back, and smart lightbulbs can make it look like we're home even when we're out.
Looking beyond the home, sensors can help us to understand how noisy or polluted our environment might be. Autonomous vehicles and smart cities could change how we build and manage our public spaces.
However, many of these innovations could have major drawbacks in terms of our personal privacy.