The Technologies Behind the Internet of Things
Discover how IoT devices mimic human senses to observe, record, and make sense of the world around them. Learn how the internet allows these devices to become more than the sum of their parts.
- The cloud
Humans interact with the world through our senses: touch, smell, sight, taste and hearing.
Sense receptors in your body are constantly receiving information about the world, from the heat of your coffee cup to the smell of the petunias in your yard, and transmitting it to your brain, where you decide what to do about it.
The internet of things (IoT) derives its power from technologies that mimic these functions: sensors embedded in devices, and internet connections that allow networked devices to gather massive amounts of information and analyze it all for meaning.
All About Sensors
A sensor, in the most basic definition of the word, is a device that can pick up physical signals from its surrounding environment and, in some way, respond to this information. Examples are motion-detecting light bulbs and the gyroscope in a smartphone that can sense the phone’s motion and orientation. By detecting and reacting to environmental data—such as temperature change, particles of a chemical in the air, motion, pressure, sound, heart rate, vibration, electrical current and much more—sensors enable us to develop a comprehensive understanding of the world around us.
IncorrectPros and Cons of the Internet of Things
Connection to the internet is key to the IoT. Because IoT devices are by definition connected to the internet, the huge quantities of data taken by IoT sensors can be stored online and in the cloud, and the individual sensors end up forming a collective composed of the sum of their parts.
IoT devices connect to the internet either through a Wi-Fi connection or by using cellular data. Wi-Fi is, in essence, a radio frequency used to wirelessly connect devices to each other. view citation This is how your laptop is able to connect to your wireless router, for example. Wi-Fi provides excellent coverage in a limited area, so IoT device developers are limited when designing for Wi-Fi capability.
Cellular data networks, on the other hand, use cell towers to cover vast areas. Cellular networks are growing rapidly, and for developers who want to design devices and applications that can be used around the world, cellular networks have many advantages. view citation
Explore how farmers are using IoT to manage crops and livestock.
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You’re a new farmer and planting season is just around the corner. You want to be sure you’re maximizing the crops you grow this year. Which of these IoT systems can help you determine what crops will perform best?
These systems report forecasted weather, potential impact on crops, and can give farmers an idea of what crops might perform best in their climate.
While definitely helpful, these sensors are used to help a farmer determine when crops need water.
The major benefit of using drones is monitoring crop health to increase yields. But this won’t help you figure out what to plant.
Keeping track of cattle is definitely important but their location and health won’t really impact what to plant.
You’re trying to manage your costs for the year and watering is very expensive. What device would help you optimize how often you water crops?
These systems have built in sensors and timers to adjust watering to the optimal run time based on local weather conditions while reducing water use.
While Smart Greenhouses can improve yields and reduce costs for farmers, they don’t help you specifically monitor water usage
The major benefit of using drones is monitoring crop health to increase yields. But this won’t help you manage your watering.
Tractors don’t really have anything to do with watering. This would help you harvest your crops when they’re ready.
Your cattle health hasn’t been so good with the unpredictable weather. What device would help you monitor their wellness?
Smart collars can track things like heart rate, temperature, activity, and behavior so that you can detect when cows are getting sick.
This isn’t an IoT device but will be helpful to store data that you’ve collected, and may help you analyze the data to find trends.
Saving you time and effort is no small feat, but they can’t do it all.
This will be helpful if you were worried about your cattle’s location as they are grazing. But it won’t tell you about their health.
Whichever type of connection is used, all IoT devices are connected to the internet, allowing for communication between devices. The IoT is, at heart, the phenomenon of all of these individual sensors talking to each other, resulting in a collective system that collects and shares—well, everything.
This network of devices obviously has great potential for convenience and efficiency. A smart oven, for example, might be able to sense when no one is home and turn itself safely off, saving energy and preventing you from having to rush home to turn it off. view citation But in this example, and in many others, IoT devices also have the potential to save lives.