What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a concept that changes not only the way we work, but also the way we live. While it is already commonplace in a vast number of smartphone-owning homes, many don't understand exactly what it is.

The cost of both internet access and technology is decreasing every year. Smartphones are dominating the electronics market and an ever increasing amount of devices are being sold with built-in wireless capabilities. This is all contributing to the rapid growth of the Internet of Things.

So, what is it?

At its most basic level, the concept of an Internet of Things is simply connecting any device to the Internet or a local network. As long as the device can be powered on or off, it can be part of the Internet of Things - this includes cell phones, lightbulbs, "wearables" such as the Apple Watch, even coffee machines are connecting to the Internet.

It's no wonder we're quickly running out of IP addresses!

However, the Internet of Things also includes people. People to people communication is a part of the Internet of Things, as is people to device and device to device communication. Confused yet?

How will the Internet of Things affect us?

There are endless possible uses for the Internet of Things. Modern-day smart homes already take advantage of this. Imagine - your alarm is set to wake you up at 7AM, which then tells your coffee machine to have a coffee ready by 7.15AM. This applies to anything - your printer could run out of toner, and have a new cartridge ordered automatically. You could be running late to work one day, and your smartphone could send a message in advance notifying your boss when you'll arrive, based on your location using the phone's geolocation feature.

The Internet of Things will speed up and simplify our lives in ways we can't even imagine or understand. At the same time, we'll be introduced to difficult challenges. Privacy and security are the two big ones - if every device can collect and share information about you, who will ensure the data gathered will stay private? Can someone hack your refrigerator and take control of your house, possibly stealing sensitive information? This doesn't just apply to homes, but also to huge companies - with several billions of connected devices, how can we remain secure? Data storage is another hot topic. With so many devices constantly gathering information, how can we possibly store it all, or even make sense of it?

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