The Internet is no longer just a network of people communicating with each other via computers and smartphones. Soon, our cars, our homes, our major appliances and even our city streets will be connected to the Internet – creating a network of objects that is often called the Internet of Things, or IoT for short.
Made up of millions of sensors and devices that generate incessant streams of data, the IoT can be used to improve our lives and our businesses in many ways. But how does it work? And what are these things that are part of the network?
The Internet of Things consists of three main components:
- The things (or assets) themselves.
- The communication networks connecting them.
- The computing systems that process and make use of the data that our things transmit and receive.
Using this infrastructure, objects or assets can communicate with each other and even optimize activities between them based on the analysis of data streaming through the network.
Imagine a sprinkler system that uses forecasts, weather sensors and pay-by-use water rates to optimize the watering of your lawn. Or a public trash can that compacts trash as needed and alerts city workers when it’s full.
Self-parking cars today are a marvel, but what about fully autonomous cars that taxi us efficiently around a city, stopping to share fares when budget-conscious travelers opt in; or trucks that haul commerce safely and quickly across the country, avoiding traffic delays and optimizing part replacement needs?
Home security systems already allow you to remotely control your door locks and thermostats, but what if they took proactive action on your behalf - cooling down your home and opening windows, based on your preferences, the existing weather conditions and your proximity to home?
Or consider the industrial Internet, which already connects millions of things from factories, fields and farms. Communication between these devices improves maintenance, efficiency and safety for businesses and employees.
From the simplicity of a sprinkler to the complexity of a modern factory floor, adding intelligence to the Internet of Things requires advanced analytics. When we process and analyze data in real time, as it streams from our things through the network, we can solve problems before they are critical, suggest new user experiences before they occur – and more.