The Internet of Things: Living in a World of Connected Devices

 Total Phase blog

The Internet has made this a very small world. We are increasingly connected with people from different stages of our lives and from any location in the world. Most of us use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Reddit for these connections. And all of these are made available over the Internet.

Did you know there is a different kind of internet, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The IoT enables technological devices to connect and communicate with each other, do incredible things and provide amazingly convenient services. This connectivity allows certain embedded devices to work together and accomplish what a singular embedded device can not do on its own. The Internet of Things is the connectivity of the web and the physical objects in our lives. It puts the Internet to practical use, and many industries are already  using it to solve problems in the world around us. Let’s examine what  Internet of Things is, how it is being used, and what we can expect in the future.

What is the Internet of Things?

The phrase "Internet of Things" was coined by Kevin Ashton of Procter & Gamble. It is used to describe the communication between devices in order to allow these devices to perform a specific action. Embedded Farmers can use the same embedded IoT technology that scientists use to analyze their soil and the environment. These connected devices analyze nutrients in the soil, rainfall, temperature, and humidity, then use this information to automate responsive farming techniques. With these easy-to-access features and information, farmers  figure out ways to yield more crops of higher quality, as well as reduce risk and estimate yields. Because of these connected devices, farmers can greatly improve farming conditions and effectively feed more people.

Devices are often designed to perform one, maybe two actions, like collect data, or write data. Think what would happen if you could connect multiple embedded devices - how many actions could be performed? That’s what the IoT does. These connected devices work together without human interaction. The Internet of Things is now being used in countless industries to make them more efficient and more advanced.

What Industries is the Internet of Things Used In?

There have been many advancements in the Internet of Things that allow people to work more efficiently and make the world a better place. A variety of industries use the Internet of Things and many different connected devices. These are some of the most prominent applications of the Internet of things today and in our future.

Environmental Monitoring

Scientists can use connected devices and the Internet of Things to improve environmental conditions. They are able to collect data on air and water quality, as well as atmospheric and soil conditions. This data is then analyzed by other devices used by scientists for their research. Embedded devices such as trackers can be used on animals to  analyze migration patterns as well as changes in population. Another way for scientists to use embedded devices is for earthquake and tsunami warning systems so that emergency services can provide aid more effectively.

Medical and Healthcare

Several embedded devices have been developed to advance medical monitoring of patients' health. These monitoring devices analyze data offered by devices such as pacemakers, electronic wristbands, or advanced hearing aids. Because of these connected devices, doctors have easy access to more accurate information about their patients' ever changing health. Doctors can monitor eating habits, sleep schedules, and exercise regimen. This information can be crucial in the diagnose and treat of at-risk patients.

Devices are also implemented in hospital beds to help communicate information to nurses as well as help improve comfort for the patients. These hospital beds inform nurses when their patients are trying to get up or are restless. Also, the devices can intuitively adjust the bed, helping provide the appropriate pressure and support, thus keeping the patients as comfortable as possible.

Home Automation

"Smart Homes" are the newest thing in home comfort. The Internet of Things gives us the ability to remotely lock our homes, manage our security systems, even adjust our thermostats. The embedded devices in your home are able to analyze the state of your home and communicate to your smartphone which you can then use to perform the tasks that you want. Connected devices can also make the energy usage in your home more efficient, by giving you the ability to turn off lights and heaters when you are away. You can also program your thermostat to maintain specific temperatures at selected times. With connected devices and the Internet of Things, you can feel secure that your home is as comfortable as you want without even needing to think about it.

When it comes to your kitchen, your home is also becoming increasingly "smart", if you have purchased any appliances in the last year or so, it is likely they have embedded devices. For example, appliance manufacturers put embedded devices in your refrigerator so that you can monitor its temperature and make adjustments  when needed. However, some manufacturers are creating increasingly intelligent "smart appliances". Some devices  allow you to control them straight from your tablet or smartphone. Also, there are other devices that allow you to send messages, such as shopping lists, to your smartphone. The goal of these appliances is to make your life easier and the effort of managing your home, no sweat.

Agriculture

Did you know farmers can use the same embedded IoT technology that scientists use to analyze their soil and the environment. These connected devices are used to analyze nutrients in the soil, rainfall, temperature, and humidity. They are then able to use this information to automate responsive farming techniques.  With these new, growing advantages, farmers  figure out ways to yield more crops that a higher quality. They have also found ways to reduce risk and estimate yields. Because of these connected devices, farmers have been able to improve farming conditions and effectively feed more people.

Transportation

We already use countless connected devices in our cars. Automotive manufacturers have been able to use these embedded systems for cars to run more efficiently and use less gas. Many cities also use smart traffic control to help reduce wait times at red lights and keep all traffic through the city running as smoothly as possible. However, connected devices will become much more advanced with the introduction of self-driving cars. We will eventually be able to see self-driving cars communicating with each other and with markers on the roads to help ease traffic conditions and help make driving safer for everyone on the road. There have been incredible strides in the Internet of Things to improve transportation and help make traveling more comfortable and convenient.

What Difference will the Internet of Things Make in the Future?

The Internet of Things has practical uses in the world around us. Not only will connected devices allow us to monitor and analyze our environments, but we will have the ability to control the things that are integrated into the Internet of Things. This blending of the physical and the Internet gives us the ability to wirelessly communicate with sensors and the ability to affect the environment around us. Eventually, the Internet of Things will be so integrated into our lives that we will not even be able to recognize when it is working. You will be able to program devices  to receive information from sensors and perform actions based on the preferences that you have programmed into the devices. In this way, you can change your environment without needing to physically do anything, the devices will do it all for you.