What is Internet of Things (IoT)?
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things, or IoT. You’ve probably seen it here and there by now. If you’ve seen a Black Mirror episode, you might even feel a little scared of it! But don’t worry. In this article, we’ll explore IoT and show you how it can benefit the world in general. And of course, we’ll also address its potential for the industrial world.
To understand IoT, we need to first unpack a few other concepts. We’ll start by choosing a definition and then digging into it. Let’s use this one:
The Internet of Things means Smart Things connecting to each other and to a Cloud Computing system.
So now we have two more concepts to address: Smart Things and Cloud Computing.
In a nutshell, Smart Things must possess three basic properties:
- Individual identification
- Sensors to receive data
- Connection with the internet
Let’s take an ordinary thing and turn it into a Smart Thing. Imagine a piano in your living room. Don’t think about how it got there, just focus on the fact that it exists here and now. No one’s playing it and you know nothing about it.
To make it a Smart Thing, we start with individual identification. This particular piano now exists here. So we put a pin in it, a data pin with an identity and address. That pin means that if we leave your house or ship the piano out, then we can find that piano again later.
How will we find it again? We’ll get to that in a minute. With the next step, we attach sensors to the piano. They constantly gather internal data, like the tension of its strings or age of its wood, and external data, like the temperature of the room or the people playing it. The sensors like to talk too, both to each other and anyone who’ll listen. Do you want to listen?
Then we move to the last step, an internet connection using a physical port or a wireless adapter. Now you can listen to the piano or its sensors. Just type its address into your laptop or smartphone, and voila!
The sensors will happily tell you where it is, who’s playing it, what it’s playing, and much more. With the right setup, maybe even you can play it from wherever you are.
But imagine if we did all this to the piano 80 years ago, and it became part of an orchestra that plays it all the time. It can generate 80 years of data and even more, but will it all fit into this one piano? Probably not. Now we come to Cloud Computing.
Cloud Computing refers to using a vast storage system that you can access from anywhere. Certain algorithms in the cloud can search and update this storage space, and others can analyze data to find patterns or make decisions.
But we can talk about those in another article. Let’s connect the piano to the cloud. Now when you connect to the piano, you can also connect with its information in a cloud server.
So here we have a Smart Thing connected to a Cloud Computing system. Where do we go next? Well, everywhere!
Internet of Things
Imagine that any object can connect to any other object in the world and generate data all the time. Even the connections between objects can generate data. They develop patterns and networks of information, and thus you have the Internet of Things! But what can we do with it?
We can manage traffic, energy distribution and generation, disease treatment, and many other things that go beyond our imagination now. Maybe we should ask, what can’t we do with it? We’ll leave that to the lawmakers and philosophers for now, though. Let’s narrow our focus a little to our world.
The Internet of Things has the capacity to dramatically change industry as we know it, creating the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT addresses the impact of Smart Things and Cloud Computing on factories and industrial processes.
IIoT enables connections between controllers, motors, sensors, robots, pumps, and many other components. These connections can send real-time data to execution systems, which can analyze the information and offer solutions for maintaining, repairing, and improving processes.
Like IoT, IIoT opens a vast realm of opportunities and possibilities. Of course, it will bring its own problems and challenges as well, but if we can harness the potential within all that data, we can address those too.
If you want to learn more about OPC UA Technology, one of the most mentioned methods of smooth integration by different manufacturers, we came across an introductory course which you can apply to in the link below.
Companies on the market with IIoT solution:
Author’s Linkedin: Bianca Menezes Cerveira