IoT is the network of physical things that have been connected to the internet, enabling them to record and transmit data. These devices may be simple — such as a smart home thermostat or an Internet-connected baby monitor — or they may be complex, like self-driving cars or industrial robots. They have one thing in common: they all gather a tremendous amount of, and a wide variety of, data from the offline world. The IoT is transforming the way we live, work and play. Its most prominent feature is that it brings internet connectivity and information processing to the world of physical objects – from household appliances and automobiles to industrial equipment, warehouse stock and even people.
In 2020 alone, the IoT generated 4.4 zettabytes of data. That data is used for a vast array of purposes. It allows companies to improve their operations and distribution systems by automating processes and reducing manual effort. IoT also helps to keep workers safe in dangerous environments, and it allows healthcare providers to monitor the condition of patients remotely. Businesses that collect and analyze the data gathered by IoT are able to make more informed decisions about what products and services to offer to their customers. It is also enabling them to improve customer satisfaction by offering more personalized experiences. For example, Amazon recently launched an IoT-connected store that lets customers simply pick up the items they want and leave.
The store uses a combination of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning to automatically scan the products as customers take them and prepares a receipt for them. IoT is also transforming the automotive industry and many other sectors by allowing manufacturers and suppliers to track inventory, improve maintenance schedules, optimize production lines and more. In some cases, IoT can even predict when equipment is likely to break down, giving manufacturers an opportunity to prevent long stretches of downtime.
As IoT continues to expand, more and more devices will become connected to the Internet. And the emergence of new technologies, including machine learning and analytics, will allow IoT devices to process data more quickly and provide valuable insights. This will help create the ultimate goal of the IoT: to transform everything we touch into a smarter version of itself. It will take time, but the IoT is bringing that future to life right now. The next step is to continue to build on this foundation and develop innovative solutions that can benefit all of us.