By Aniket Bose. Edited by Arjun Chandrasekar.
Internet of Things (IoT) is a name for the total collection of network-enabled devices, excluding traditional computers such as laptops and servers. The types of network connections can include Wi-Fi connections, Bluetooth connections, and near-field communication (NFC). IoT also consists of devices like “smart” appliances, such as refrigerators and thermostats, home security systems, Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.
How does IoT work?
The goal behind IoT is to have devices that self-report in real-time, improving efficiency and bringing important information to the surface more quickly than a system depending on human intervention. IoT promises to transform a wide range of fields. For example, in medicine, connected devices can assist medical professionals to monitor patients from both inside and outside of a hospital building. Computers can then evaluate the data to help the practitioners to adjust their treatments and improve the outcomes of their patients.
Another field that is experiencing a transformation through IoT is urban planning. For instance, when sensors have an IP address placed under a busy street, city officials can alert drivers about upcoming delays or accidents on the road. Similarly, “intelligent” trash cans can notify the city when they become full, hence capitalizing waste collection routes. The use of smart devices will also likely result in a competitive advantage for businesses that use them strategically. In particular, by tracking data about energy use and inventory levels, a firm can significantly reduce its overall costs. As companies track a consumer’s behavior inside a store, a retailer could theoretically make tailored product recommendations to the consumer, leading to an increase in the overall size of the sale. Once a product is in a consumer’s home, that product can then be used to alert the owner of upcoming service schedules and even prompt the owner to book an appointment.
As with all questions regarding personal data, numerous privacy concerns have yet to be addressed when it comes to IoT. The technology has advanced much faster than the regulatory environment, so this leads to potential regulatory risks facing companies that are continuing to expand the range of internet-connected devices. IoT describes the network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technological devices to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet.