What Exactly is the Internet of Things?

The phrase “internet of things” (IoT) might sound familiar as it is a topic being thrown around in the telecommunications world as well as other industries.  Although they contain the same word, internet of things vs. the internet that we use everyday, are very different. The Internet of Things in simple terms is anything and everything that is connected to the internet, so it is closely related to the internet. Below we will explain in more detail what exactly the internet of things is, why it matters, and how it can be applied to almost everything in the world around us. 

What is It?

The phrase was originally coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, one of the founders of the Auto-ID center at MIT. Ashton and his team paved the way for how to link objects to the internet, which is exactly what the internet of things is. This ranges from your cell phone, to a lamp, your fitness tracker or a coffee maker. By connecting devices, they are able to “talk” to one another and gather information to give the user the best possible answer and the best customer experience.  With the data that is collected from connections of these devices, businesses are able to detect patterns and make recommendations to ultimately help the user, which is the end goal of IoT. 

With IoT being a sort of “out there” product, Jacob Morgan of said it best: “….relationships are now between people-people, people-things, and things-things.” – Jacob Morgan, 

Why does it matter?

The Internet of Things is important for one simple reason: as the internet becomes more and more connected, the bigger the role IoT will play. Many businesses and users are attracted to this concept because it can help reduce operating costs, adds the possibility of increasing revenue, and most importantly can improve overall efficiency from all ends of the spectrum. According to General Electric, the Internet of Things could possibly increase the global GDP by $10 or $20 trillion by 2040. There is still a lot that is not known about IoT, but with the increase of industries connecting with it, this technology will become increasingly more important. 

How can it be applied?

The Internet of Things can be applied to a multitude of industustries as stated above. These include retail, transportation, and healthcare to name a few. Retail uses IoT for a variety of things including self-checkouts and the connection between the typical brick-and-mortar stores and digital shopping experience. For transportation, one of the biggest applications of IoT is traffic management including smart parking, traffic lights,and accident assistance. And lastly the healthcare industry, which has been put through extreme stress over the past year. IoT can be used in hospitals for tracking of wheelchairs, oxygen pumps, as well as other hospital equipment. These are just a few examples but it proves the variety of ways that IoT can be used. 

No matter what industry you or your business is in, the concept of the internet of things can most likely be applied in one way or another. Although this was just a simple explanation, hopefully you as the reader have a more clear understanding of what the internet of things is and how helpful it can actually be to not just your business but everyday life.

There are ethical debates happening within the IoT conversation surrounding privacy matters, but it is still being experimented with and we are still understanding all of its application uses. As IoT is used more and researched, we will have a better understanding of its uses as well as what boundaries we are willing to draw with this technology.