The Internet of Things (IoT) — although not by that name — has been the stuff of science fiction and technical research for more than 50 years. In the 1940s, our great grandfathers read Dick Tracy comics featuring his two-way radio watch, and in 1989, researchers demonstrated a toaster that could be turned on and off via a TCP/IP network.
Today, we're going to examine seven areas that are being impacted by IoT — and how they will continue to benefit as IoT becomes more mainstream and advanced.
Training for a Career in IoT
If you're interested in working in the IoT field, one of the best ways to prepare is to learn cloud technologies. Every IoT application relies on the cloud — which also means you should have a strong grasp of networking and security. Which cloud vendor should you focus on? That depends on which one your current organization uses.
Start learning the cloud with CBT Nuggets. We offer a robust library of cloud training from leading vendors such as AWSand Microsoft Azure.
IoT: The Beginning
Arguably the first IoT device, a networked Coke machine, was created in the 1980s by computer science students at Carnegie Mellon University. They built a processor board that could detect when a coke was purchased and when the last Coke bottle in any of the machine's dispensing columns was purchased.
Connecting via the ARPANET (the precursor to today's Internet), users were able to tell if the machine had Cokes available and (through some coding logic) whether they were as cold as they liked them. Of course, at the time, ARPANET was only linked to a few hundred computers — mostly at universities and research facilities in the U.S. It was in 1999 that the term "Internet of Things" was coinedand one year later, LG Electronics introduced their Internet-connected smart refrigerator.
In addition to the universally-accessible Internet, the IoT was made possible by the ready availability of microprocessor chips and operating systems like Linux and Android that could be embeddedin the "Things". It is these devices that provide the smarts — collecting data from embedded sensors and feeding it over the Internet to be stored, processed, and delivered through end-user applications and dashboards. Many of these IoTapplications capture, collate, and process masses of data from widely dispersed locations! That's why the cloud is so useful.
Smart Retail, Smart Banking, Smart Agriculture, Smart Home, Smart City — wherever there's a "Smart", you'll find IoT applications. Nowadays, nobody is surprised that a personal, home, business, healthcare, automotive, agricultural, or industrial product has built-in Internet features.
By some estimates, there will be over 64 billion IoT devices worldwide by 2026. Businesses have eagerly adopted IoT — using it to track goods from inventory, in transit, and to the customer's door. It's used in factories to control production lines and in agriculture to automate irrigation and check the health of livestock.
Use of IoTis also exploding in the consumer sector.Dishwashers, refrigerators, smart TVs, smart watches, cars and trucks, heating and cooling systems, fitness machines and trackers are examples of IoT-enabled products with which you may have personal experience!
7 Everyday IoT Applications
As we have said, there are already IoT applications in every sector and in every facet of our daily lives. These applications are frequently cloud-based, allowing them to be deployed and operated on a national and even worldwide basis. Let's look at some examples of Internet of Things applications that you may encounter daily.
We'll begin in your home, where smart IoT applications are all the rage. Using your cell phone, you can monitor and control your kitchen appliances, heating and lighting, security system, hot- and cold-water taps, and more. And when your appliances are compatible with Apple Home or Amazon Home Connect, you can even control them by voice using Alexa or Siri.
1. Smart Home Security
Let's start with how IoT helps secure your home. Window and door contacts, glass break and motion detectors, and heat, smoke, and water detectors combined with security alarm pads, cameras, and smart doorbells help secure your home against break-ins, fire, and floods.
Readings and alarms from these sensors flow to an in-home controller and then on to the cloud via the Internet or through battery-powered cellular communicators.
From the cloud, you will be alerted through a mobile phone or computer app to any untoward activity in the home. Using the app, you can check sensor logs and cameras to determine what's happening and where. You can arm or disarm the security system remotely to deny or allow access to your home. For more security, you can set up personalized access codes for specific authorized users and be informed when they enter and leave your home.
Forgot to arm your security system? With geofencing arming reminders, you'll be notified if you go beyond a specified distance from your home. You can then use your app to arm the system.
You could already open your front door using a keypad code, but now iris scanning, voice recognition, and facial recognition may soon eliminate the need for keys or codes.
2. Smart Home: Heating & Cooling
Programmable thermostats have long been able to detect and adjust temperatures and humidity to suit individual preferences: daytime, nighttime, vacations, weekends, et. Now with smart thermostats and sensors, a whole new set of capabilities is available.
First, the system can be connected by Wi-Fi to the cloud and accessed and controlled remotely through a mobile app. From a vacation spot, the car, or even from the couch in front of their TV, users can monitor and adjust temperatures for their comfort. And with smart sensors in your bathroom or workout room, the system can automatically and individually adjust the temperature and humidity as you or another family member shower or exercise.
If you live in an older home without central heating and air conditioning, you can still get a smart room air conditioner. On your way home on a hot and sticky evening? Just switch on the unit ahead of time through your cell phone app. Or tell Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to switch it on as you walk in the door.
Your heating and cooling system can be set up to send you an alarm if something is detected outside of acceptable ranges. On a wintery day, you certainly want to know if your heating is out before the water pipes freeze and burst! It gives you a chance to turn off the water with your Smart Home app, or simply disarm your security system, so a friend can get in to do it the old-fashioned way!
The heating system may also include gas, smoke, or CO2 sensors and check the air in your home to determine if conditions are outside set parameters, alerting you (and your alarm service) of possible gas leaks, fires, or water leaks.
3. Smart Home: Kitchen
One of the first commercially available IoT devices was the internet Digital DIOS smart refrigeratorannounced by LG Electronics in 2000. Although that web-enabled model was not deemed a success, it has been followed by smart IoT products from almost every kitchen appliance manufacturer.
Today, in your kitchen you'll find Wi-Fi-enabled fridges, faucets, gas and electric ranges, microwave ovens, coffee makers, pizza ovens, wine coolers, dishwashers, and toasters. You'll also find Wi-Fi controlled washer and dryer in your laundry room and even a smart toilet in your bathroom!
Smart refrigerators have a variety of features that you can control via mobile phone app. Some features include cameras inside the fridge, so you can monitor what's inside, and a touchscreen on which you can pull up recipes or create shopping lists.
Often, smart appliances are compatible with industry voice assistants, so you can ask Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to dispense ice, turn on your oven, or add something to your shopping list!
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4. Smart Driving
It's only a matter of a few decades before self-driving cars and delivery trucks are the norm. But even without driverless vehicles, there are plenty of examples of IoT technology deployed in your everyday driving life. Think of safety services such as General Motors' OnStar. Sensors in the car can detect mechanical problems and collisions and (via a cell link) upload details to the cloud and a 24-hour service advisor.
You've seen the TV ads. The adviser speaks directly to the driver and takes necessary action—dispatching emergency or recovery services as appropriate. And, courtesy of GPS, the adviser pinpoints your vehicle's location. If the problem is mechanical, the advisor is able to run remote diagnostics on the car, so the responding mechanic is prepared when she arrives.
Another widely used type of IoT application is the navigation app like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps. You either use them on your mobile phone, or in-car dashboard variants. Using a combination of cellular and GPS networks, these apps help you get from A to Z! Waze is a great example of IoT. The app continuously collects vehicle position data and sends it to the cloud, where it has position data from all other user vehicles. By computing the relative movement of each vehicle, Waze can determine its speed and identify traffic slowdowns and jams. It can estimate time in traffic, redirect the driver to an alternate route that bypasses obstructions, and recompute the driver's projected arrival time. Waze accepts driver-submitted data on road hazards, police presence, traffic jams, etc. that it feeds back to all users on that route!
5. Smart Toll Collection
Our next IoT driving example is electronic toll collection (ETC). This application is common in urban areas with toll roads, bridges, and tunnels. There are electronic toll collection systems throughout the states, with the E-ZPass network covering 19 states from Maine, south to Florida, and west to Minnesota. Florida's SunPass is tied into that network. In California, the FasTrak network is used by toll agencies from the Bay Area to San Diego.
You probably know how these systems work! You have a transponder on your vehicle windshield that is read by sensors at each smart toll booth that you pass. The transponder ID is fed to the cloud for validation — the booth flashes a "Toll Paid" sign — and on you go. The transponder-reading technology is so accurate that you can go through an express lane at 50 miles per hour.
Now if you're not enrolled in the ETC system, you will have to use the "Cash Only" lanes. But what if you go through a toll booth without a transponder? Well, the toll booths are equipped with cameras that photograph your license plate and the photo is used in real-time to check that your plate is registered with the system. If not, expect a toll bill and maybe a violation notice in your US mail! And don't think that having out-of-state plates will save you!
One final "smart" thing about electronic toll collection systems. Your transponder is programmed for the vehicle classification you register—maybe your SUV or pickup truck! But what if you go through a smart toll pulling a trailer? Well, the toll booth has sensors to count the axles, and…1-2-3…you'll be charged the appropriate fee!
The "Dick Tracy'' dream of wearable communication and computing devices is now a reality, with numerous applications in personal fitness, leisure, wellness, and healthcare. Biometric sensors in watches, rings, and wristbands can detect respiration rates, temperature, heart rate and rate variability, and glucose and blood oxygen levels. These wearable devices collect and store the raw data, before uploading it to a cloud infrastructure via a cellular or Internet link.
Wearable devices often contain an accelerometer, that measures steps taken and detects movements such as golf shots, or even a fall. Using links to global positioning satellites (GPS), the devices can determine your precise location and compute distances traveled. Golf watches contain GPS-based maps of each golf course and can display your position on each hole, distances to the green, as well as hazards such as water and bunkers, and the distance for each shot! But you must still tell it which golf club you used…it's not that smart yet!
Many wearable devices have health and wellness applications, but there are numerous direct healthcare applications of IoT technology. For instance, it has been reported that smartwatches were able to detect early COVID-19 symptomsup to a week earlier than nasal swab tests.
In fact, people now talk about the Internet of Medical Things (IOMT). The most common healthcare applications of IoT are patient monitors and trackers. These can be for diagnostic purposes or for remote patient surveillance. Monitoring devices can measure vital signs such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and glucose levels.
One creative IoMT application is the smart pillbox. As the patient takes their medication, the pillbox transmits patient data and the medication taken to a cloud server, where it is processed and stored with the patient's record—including their prescriptions. The server will send the patient an SMS message if they miss a dose, or when a prescription renewal is due.
The list of healthcare IoT applications is growing by the day. We even have Wi-Fi-compatible hearing aids. Although many of the IoMT devices are wearable, some are surgically implanted. For example, there are Internet-enabled pacemakers, which are used to help keep alive patients with slow or irregular heartbeats.
We've just scratched the surface of everyday life examples of IoT. There are many more! Most of our examples are vendor designed and delivered — you can't see the cloud, sensor, or artificial intelligence technologythat's under the covers. In your work life though, you'll may be involved in the creation and operation of a custom IoT application!
So how do you prepare? A common thread for every IoT application is the cloud, networking, and security! Which cloud technology depends on your organization, but by at least one estimate, AWS is the leading cloud platform vendor—three times larger than Google Cloud and 50% bigger than Microsoft.
So, prioritizing, you should look at the AWS certification training options for Certified Cloud Practitioner, Certified SysOps Admin, or Certified Security – Specialty. If you're on a Microsoft or Google Cloud track, then check out our AzureAdministrator, AzureSecurity Engineer Associate, or GoogleAssociateCloudEngineercourses.