Information technology has become an integral part of our lives. With the advent of the 21st century, use of the term- Internet of Things has become more synonymous with our interaction with various physical devices connected over some kind of networking platform. Communication and interaction constitute the backbone for sustenance of any activity in the Universe.
Human life today is getting increasingly dependent upon the application of technology to do away with wastage of resources, elimination of error and minimizing the human effort. Computer science has made life faster and even simpler than what it was a century back. Information has become so easy to be accessed just at the click of our mouse by using the miraculous internet.
What is IOT:
Internet is defined as a network of billions of computers and smartphones (which act as mini-computers) connected to each other globally for accessing, storing and sharing information electronically with the public that wishes to connect with it. It utilizes the hardware as a means of communicating the network protocols. These network protocols convert the messages received from humans via hardware into digital electronic signals and vice versa.
Internet connects together billions of computers and smartphones across the globe irrespective of the geographical boundaries. This sense of connectedness has made life easier for many.
Likewise, the phenomenon of connecting together various physical objects such as- cars, refrigerators, microwave, induction, washing machine, printers, etc. using the internet is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). There is minimum or no human interaction in the process. This connectivity is made possible by two pillars i.e., interaction and communication between two or more physical devices.
To understand better let us get acquainted with few of the examples-
- Installing a sensor that records the room temperature and communicates the same to a decision-making panel via Wi-Fi network such that it does not allow the temperature to rise above 27-degree centigrade. Thus, as soon as the temperature soars above the set limit, the decision-making panel turns on the air-conditioner to re-adjust the temperature to less than 27-degree centigrade. It is evident that during the entire process of re-adjustment of the temperature there is no human intervention.
- Nowadays, we have Bluetooth connected bulbs, speakers, headphones and even printers available in the market which can be controlled by our smartphones and are being widely used. Almost each and everything we spot on today are utilizing the concept of IoT and we are integrating the same in our day to day life at a very rapid pace.
Components of IOT:
To establish a proficient IoT system, there are 4 main components that facilitate the interaction of various physical devices with each other and communication of information amongst these via a suitable medium. Let us get acquainted with the same for a better understanding-
- Receiver-It is an object that receives information from the surrounding environment by sensing and recording the data as per pre-defined settings. It is also referred to as a sensing device or a sensor. Data/ information can be anything- the temperature of a room, the humidity level in a room, light intensity in a room or alkalinity of a given water body (example- swimming pool/ aquarium), etc. The receiver can be used both individually or in combination with other receiving devices of same or different kind.
- Communication channel– Data/ information collected by the receiver is now supposed to be forwarded to a suitable processing unit via efficient means of communication channel which can also be called as a connector. Consumption of power, range and amount of information (bandwidth) are the parameters that are considered for selecting the connector. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, satellite network, cellular network and low-power wide area network (LPWAN) are commonly used connectivity channels. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages.
- Processor– Information is conveyed by the connector to a processor. There are different kinds of processing units available today. It can be a standalone computing system or a system of servers privately or publicly owned and operated or on the other we can have a cloud space. Cloud is a system of interconnected servers, storage spaces, databases over the internet, the facility of which can be procured by paying a nominal fee to the cloud owner agencies. Google and Microsoft are key players in providing cloud spaces.
Information received is acted upon as per the directives from pre-defined algorithms which are implemented as a software. It acts as a brain centre of the IoT system and must be properly monitored and maintained.
- User-Interface- The processed information is passed on to the user in a meaningful form that can be acted upon by the user. The information can be in the form of some alarm bell getting turned on or a message over mobile or an email notification over the computer system. The user is then prompted to act upon the received information, the action so performed is then conveyed to the processor which in turn performs the necessary action. For example, if the user is informed that the alkalinity of aquarium water is decreasing beyond a certain limit, he /she can command the system to release a certain amount of lime water into the aquarium such that fishes inside are not endangered.
The same process can be automated as well and the user is just intimated that the alkalinity of the water had fallen below a prescribed limit and a corresponding amount of lime water was released into the aquarium. Thus, IoT imparts intelligence in the form of artificial intelligence to the entire system without human intervention post its initial set-up.
Advantages of IOT: As seen from the above example, it is quite obvious IoT if implemented properly can benefit us in this world of globalization as listed below-
- Eliminates/ reduces the chances of human error
- Decreases wastage of resources- time, material and human efforts
- Boosts confidence & productivity
- Increases security and accuracy
- Enhances the quality
Disadvantages of IoT-
- If the system is interconnected devices are hacked, entire system security may get jeopardized
- Initial investment on hardware is heavy
- Bringing in IoT will surely absorb many jobs for the work being done manually
- In case of a fault in one device, the entire system may get disrupted
- Too much dependence on IoT, will decrease confidence in human efforts