The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of inter-connected computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects and tools, including animals or people carrying connected devices that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. It is a concept that describes the idea of devices, objects and tools of everyday use being connected to the internet and being able to identify themselves automatically to other devices. When many objects act in unison and with precise coordination, they are known as having “ambient intelligence.”
The definition of the Internet of things has evolved due to the convergence of multiple technologies, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems. Traditional fields of embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, control systems, automation (including home and building automation), and others all contribute to enabling the Internet of Things. In the consumer market, IoT technology is most synonymous with products pertaining to the concept of the “smart home”, covering devices and appliances (such as lighting fixtures, thermostats, home security systems and cameras, and other home appliances) that support one or more common ecosystems, and can be controlled via devices associated with that ecosystem, such as smartphones, smart speakers and digital assistants.
IoT envisions a future where all devices are intelligently connected and work in tandem to achieve common goals or sustain ambient environments. It intends to simplify and enhance human lifestyle with the aid of artificial intelligence and increase productivity for higher standards of living. Let us take an example where residents live in a smart home equipped with intelligent television sets, kitchen appliances, digital assistants and inter-connected security systems. An individual may be watching TV when a commercial (advertisement) comes up about a tasty pizza or a bucket of fried chicken. If he or she feels delighted about it, the smart television shall detect the change in facial expression through a built-in camera and assess the person’s mood or interest. It shall pass on this message to the connected digital assistant which shall, then, broadcast an audio message asking the individual if he/she wants to order the same food from a nearby restaurant. Once the individual confirms verbally, the digital assistant shall look up available restaurants in the vicinity of the residence for the selected menu and place the order automatically on behalf of the individual. The restaurant, on their part, may choose to deliver the food autonomously through an intelligent drone. The entire process of menu selection, restaurant identification, ordering and food delivery shall happen within a span of a few minutes and without any human intervention. This would not only save time and effort but also enhance efficiency and luxury. Such an interconnected future is no longer a possibility but rather, a reality, thanks to The Internet of Things.
As people embrace IoT technology and smart devices, the demand for individuals skilled in smart technologies is expected to surge. Affordable single board computers such as the Raspberry Pi and easy to use electronic components such as the Arduino Micro-Controller have made prototyping and development of IoT devices very convenient and interesting. Educational institutes across the world are encouraging students to innovate and invent useful robots and automated tools for the betterment of mankind. It is time we embrace IoT and the concept of a connected world with open arms.