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IoT: the technological revolution of everyday life

Sparkout Tech Marketing
IoT: the technological revolution of everyday life

A definition for the term “Internet of Things” (also known by its English name, Internet of Things, and its acronym IoT) has not yet been established. Rather, there are different definitions that differ in small details, although, in general, they all agree on one point: the term refers to the interconnection of everyday objects and industrial machines through the Internet . These objects receive a unique identity (address) on the network and can carry out tasks in a fully automated manner. In this way, for example, simple objects can communicate with each other at any time and place, without the need for human intervention. Equipped with processors and sensors and connected thanks to network technology, these devices can collect information from their environment, analyze it and send it to other objects connected to the Internet.

Therefore, when talking about the Internet of Things, we do not only have to think about high-tech appliances or autonomous cars, since the possible range of applications is much broader . Imagine: clothing and sports watches capable of monitoring the user's health status and sending the values ​​obtained directly to the doctor's office for evaluation. In the area of ​​agriculture, sensor results of water humidity and nutrient requirements of cultivated plants could be stored in the cloud . And these are just two examples of the numerous options that IoT presents.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is directly related to a series of software development services advances, as well as concepts such as ubiquitous computing and artificial intelligence  (AI). The possibility of transforming everyday objects into electronic devices is their fundamental characteristic : they can be identified through an IP address, through sensors they detect states and have storage capacity thanks to built-in chips. In addition, integrated minicomputers allow autonomous handling, react to the environment and exchange data, which, together with machine learning, turns these objects into devices capable of recognizing and universalizing patterns and deducing a series of conclusions to adapt to new situations and go optimizing little by little. The application of radio frequency technology such as RFID or Bluetooth is enough to transform physical objects into a transmitter-receiver system. With the help of more complex communication technology such as 4G, devices can transfer large amounts of data to a cloud or another IoT device over long distances and without interruption.

The Internet of Things makes use of different technologies and, although there is no unified definition of the term, the following characteristics are generally attributed to it:

  • Collection, storage and processing of data, as does, for example, the thermostat that automatically measures the temperature of a room.
  • Communication with other objects , either directly or in the cloud.
  • Interconnection , for example Bluetooth connection to the Internet.
  • Ubiquity , since connected devices can be used almost anywhere.
  • Automation , since the devices respond with a certain response to a specific scenario or action, without any user intervention. For example, electric cooktops automatically pause when the food has reached the programmed temperature.
  • Learning capacity: a lamp connected to the Internet could analyze the intensity of the light and then adjust it automatically on subsequent occasions.

What technology supports the Internet of Things?

To understand the principle behind the Internet of Things, you must know its technological foundations. In theory, IoT is currently being used in different fields thanks to ICT , both the most recent and those with a longer tradition . But for full coverage to truly be established, this technology has to evolve even further.

In fact, there are still some obstacles to overcome to interconnect all devices, send and process data quickly without interference and be able to solve the problem of big data : the Internet of Things requires a very powerful mobile Internet connection capable of managing the immense volume of data from the large number of machine devices connected to the global network.

For all these reasons, many developers have put all their hope in the new generation of 5G mobile telephony , which far exceeds previous standards in terms of data volume per second. According to the European Union , by 2025 all large cities and main roads in all EU member countries must have 5G. In a first plan, it was thought to set the limit for 2020, but experts consider it much more realistic to wait five more years. Regardless of the year in which it is finally established, the truth is that 5G technology is practically a reality.

To identify objects, collect information on physical conditions and feed the network, simple means such as RFID systems or QR codes are sufficient. In fact, this custom software development services is already applied in tracking packages from logistics service providers and in merchandise management .

If, however, it is about evaluating complex data automatically and with autonomous operation, the devices must have more complex technology. If the M2M (machine to machine) principle is applied , which refers to the transmitter-receiver system that allows the automated exchange of information between devices remotely, a series of components must be available. For example, for remote maintenance of a picking vehicle from a logistics custom software development company you would need:

  • Machine or data end point : the autonomous picking vehicle equipped with motion sensors sends GPS signals.
  • Communication network : wireless networks such as UMTS, HSPA, LTE, 5G.
  • Server, data integration point : the server of a logistics company interprets the technical parameters sent by the picking vehicle.
  • M2M Device – For example, an API (application programming interface) that helps the server evaluate results and trigger actions.

The following elements belong to the technical architecture of the Internet of Things:

  • Sensors : everyday objects equipped with sensors can collect information about a series of physical or chemical conditions and measure, among others, temperature, pressure, luminosity, humidity, pH or movement. The results are transformed into electrical signals so that they can be processed by digital systems. Thanks to this, it is possible to adapt the brightness of a smartphone screen depending on the light intensity of the environment captured by a sensor.
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) : this technology allows the identification of an object remotely using electromagnetic waves (it has a range of up to 100 meters). An RDIF tag with a unique code is attached to the object so that a measuring instrument is able to identify and locate it. Logistics companies use RFID systems to facilitate the location of a container when shipping it.
  • Location technologies : GPS, WLAN and Bluetooth reach greater distances and are capable of communicating more information. Thus, if the smartphone's location system is used to find a restaurant in the surrounding area, it can show, for example, the one that is closest.
  • Wireless networks : Long-range IoT requires more than just short-range communication systems or short WLAN transmission paths. The predominant transmission technologies are based on 3G and 4G mobile telephony standards, however, they continue to present a certain delay. Therefore, in order to work with a greater volume of data and allow transmission to occur in real time, a new generation is required. In fact, in the future the use of the following standards is promoted:
  • 5G mobile phone standard . The fifth generation of mobile telephony standards represents a great leap, as it promises 10,000 MB per second, thus being one hundred times faster than the LTE standard and exceeding it a thousand times in terms of capacity. In fact, with 5G almost all applications can work in real time, becoming the requirement that can make automated driving in smart cities a reality. With the standard, even large data packets for Full HD movies can be loaded almost immediately.
  • NB-IoT (NarrowBand-IoT) technology is an innovation. Although it only transmits small amounts of data, it is distinguished by other advantages: thanks to a high signal intensity it reaches hard-to-reach places such as an underground receiver or objects located in thick-walled buildings. This technology is extremely energy efficient and works for a long period of time. For example, this technology would allow boilers to be maintained in basements without external power or to control street lighting remotely.
  • Cloud : For the infrastructure of a powerful Internet of Things, a virtual network for data processing and storage is also essential. The cloud allows you to securely store information from IoT devices and at the same time increase their storage capacity.
  • Embedded system (embedded computing) : Microprocessors and other small computing systems only work when they interact with other devices. There are no major software or hardware requirements for their operation and they are very useful for creating autonomous systems in the most common objects.

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