The Internet of Things (IoT) in layman’s terms

Written by on July 9, 2015 in Features with 4 Comments

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of physical things embedded with sensors, software, electronics and connectivity to allow it to perform better by exchanging information with other connected devices, the operator or the manufacturer.

In simple terms, it is a network in which physical objects can exchange data internally or with other connected machines. IoT is a vision that is being built today with an expectation of massive expansion by 2020 as connections move past computers to power billions of other devices, such as home thermostats and parking meters.

In fact, 1.9 billion devices are already connected with an expectation of connecting 9 billion devices by 2018. Learn more about The Internet of Things, checkout the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Masters in Computer Science program.

Current IoT Technologies

IoT is a technological revolution that reflects the future of communications and computing, and its development is based on the technical innovation in some fields, such as wireless connectivity, increased capacity of data storage and miniaturization.

The technology of wireless connectivity is being used in industries, such as home automation, automotive, remote monitoring, and aerospace, among others. For example, EnOcean technology is a wireless technology used in harvesting energy and basically applied to building automation systems. It enables communication between switches, gateways, wireless sensors without batteries and controllers. Developments in miniaturization, especially sensor miniaturization, mean that even smaller objects will be able to interact and connect with each other. Since data is the most important drive for IoT, increasing the storage capacity of data plays a major role in making IoT a reality.

Currently, there are 300,000 developers who are committed to produce the right software for IoT. However, this number is not enough and by 2020, the number of developers is expected to shoot up to 4.5 million, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of 57 percent. In 2013, the IoT market had a value of $1.3 trillion, which is expected to rise to $3.04 trillion in 2020 according to a research conducted by International Data Corporation, and this reflects a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent.

IoT Potential

The intelligence of IoT plays a major role in influencing the behavior of consumers, especially when making decisions about purchases. For businesses, IoT enhances the efficiency of processes and even process optimization by collecting and reporting data. At the city level, IoT helps improve the management of buildings, increase the efficiency of traffic flow and manage waste or water efficiently. In the state level, IoT is used to manage highway traffic, agriculture, road infrastructure and healthcare education.

IoT Hurdles

Vulnerability to hackers

IoT devices can be easily hacked, making them unsafe for sharing sensitive information. In fact, a study that examined 10 smart devices showed that 70 percent are vulnerable to hacking. 80 percent of the devices had privacy issues on consumer data, such as the name and date of birth. 60 percent had security issues with user interfaces, such as poor session management and persistent XSS. 80 percent of the devices had insufficient authorization in terms of the length and complexity of the password while 70 percent of the devices lacked transport encryption to the local network and Internet. Moreover, 60 percent of the devices lacked encryption during software update downloads.

For instance, Michigan University computer researchers, using a radio broadcast device and a laptop, hacked the entire system of “smart” traffic lights with close to 100 intersections in an anonymous town.


This is raising concern because many devices are being manufactured by smaller companies that have no time or resources to put the right security models in place.

Manipulating the vast amount of data

Companies will take the responsibility of tracking, analyzing and storing the massive amounts of data that IoT will generate.

The cost of wireless connectivity

This cost should be well calculated and put into consideration when setting up IoT.

Power consumption

This is a major hurdle as energy consumption and battery life to actuators and sensors should be managed appropriately.

Current Devices in Use

The U.S. and German governments have invested approximately $1 billion in IoT technologies with an aim of boosting commercial success. A good example is Disney World where guests wear Magic bands that have chips through which they can do financial transactions.

Smart meters that monitor water, gas and energy consumptions are being used by utility companies while “smart city” projects are being implemented by municipalities to do tasks, such as waste management. In Cincinnati, the volume of residential waste has fallen by 17 percent, while the recycled volume has increased by 49 percent as a result of using the “pay as you throw” program.

Through analyzing the data collected by sensors, Dubai Aluminum has improved its gas turbine efficiency by 1.5 percent, while FedEx, a company that is using sensors on its fleet to help with scheduling dock tasks, expects to save close to $9 million annually.

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About the Author

About the Author: Tony is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide. .


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  1. Michael says:

    I find most future IoT concepts to be overly abstract, not this one. The most important component of the system is the wetware yet most models follow the AI method and detach the human from the “Intranet of Devices” being utilized. Sensor aggregation is easy to do but really hard to do well. The first step is to eliminate big data before your system has to deal with it. The future is in little data imo and data curators will become as valuable as data scientists in the near future.

  2. Nice post. The near future of IT lies in the new generation technologies especially in IoT. Government of India started future skill programs for IT professionals with tie up with NASSCOM to welcome the upcoming changes. And in this scenario this post is very much relevant. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Jen McDade says:

    Informative post. The way you represent IoT potentials and hurdles along with connected devices and their uses in an infographic gives it more value and make it easy to understand.

  4. Eva McCauley says:

    I am interested in this comment: “Since data is the most important drive for IoT, increasing the storage capacity of data plays a major role in making IoT a reality. ” I don’t know what storage capacity of data is, but using data while it is still relevant is an important drive for IoT, especially Industrial IoT. The efficient, secure, reliable data connectivity problem is addressed by middleware like DDS. Once data is processed, much of it can be discarded very quickly. DDS addresses interoperability too.

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