An Introduction to the Internet of Things (IOT)
By Mario Pojoy
Since the introduction of IOT (Internet of Things) in 1999, the technological advances have exploded into the consumer world, immersing itself into our daily lives. This catchy term resonated with vocabulary experts, but more importantly has sparked the world of computer science, resulting in generations of devices and efficiencies in technology. To the common person, they have unknowlingly adopted IOT in many forms: from the use of their smart phones to the bar code on tags from a shirt they’ve purchased, IOT is ubiquitous! For tech saavy device makers, IOT has meant delivering the fastest and most customized gadgets for consumers. So what does IOT mean? How does it work? And more importantly, how can you take advantage of this technology?
IOT is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_things) IOT is a concept that utilizes sensors, embedded into any physical device, that continuously transmit data to a common platform whereby multiple devices communicate and share data in a single language. IOT utilizes the power of the Internet and applications for data processing to transform and analyze data. From there, data is extracted based on rules from the application and communicated back to the end-user. The data generated back helps us to better understand, explain and optimize devices that are used by humans.
IOT can best be explained by example. Imagine you are driving in your car, and your “check engine” light goes on. Inside your car, there are a multitude of systems that all have to run in sync for your car to operate. There are sensors for every system that monitor things like your fluids, pressure, temperature, and speed to ensure safety and functionality. These sensors work together, so if something goes wrong, you, as the driver are quickly alerted on your dashboard. With respect to IOT, the sensors will detect something, such as an oxygen sensor failure, which regulates the mixture of air and fuel that enters into the cylinders. This data gets communicated to a secure control center in the cloud and immediately transfers that information back to the car’s system, enabling the “check engine” light to go on. In turn, this data can also be communicated to the car manufacturer, whereby they text you via phone of the nearest repair station or dealer, and send you a coupon for the repair. This is IOT in action!
With today’s technologies, you don’t have to be an electronics or telecommunications expert to implement an IOT solution. Two of the most popular IOT devices that allow you to create simple software solutions using IOT include : Arduino electronics kits and small Raspberry Pi programmable computers.
Arduino electronic kits are circuit boards that have microcontrollers which are capable of receiving, processing and transforming signals from different types of sensors. These sensors follow the execution of embedded code and the facility of adding short, medium and long distance communication modules at different transmission frequencies and different types of communication protocols. The advantage of Arduino boards lies in their ease of implementation and use: the hardware is all-inclusive on one electric board and allows you to add shields and other external devices easily; the software is programmatically universal and flexible, and their robustness and speed is unparalleled. In addition, Arduino electronic kits bring big value with its low cost and complex abilities. This makes it one of the best learning kits for IOT learning, reading voltages from sensors and writing code, or for anyone that wants to explore the world of IT hardware and programming, automation and robotics.
Another easy way to get your hands on IOT is via the Raspberry Pi, a miniature computer. With the same dimensions as a credit card or even a stick of gum, they contain everything you need to get started in the world of programming. Raspberry Pi runs in a Linux-based environment, enabling a more complex embedded system that offers a decent processor, WiFi, Bluetooth capability, and general purpose input and output pins (GPIO). GPIOs are limitless because they allow you to send and receive electrical signals through coding based on sensors. By controlling electrical signals you can manage LED lights, motors, radio signals, audio signals, LCD displays and even add joysticks and buttons to create a gaming experience. Like computers, Raspberry Pi, has a few different pricing options for capabilities and hardware, however they are all extremely low in cost compared to what they can deliver.
When we talk about IOT projects, they are not only accessible on small, personal devices, but rather intertwined and embedded as the heart of world-renowned systems that lead a variety of industries. This is a consequence of the growing demand for devices connected to the IOT, pushing the development of new technologies that adapt to existing services and linking them through more complex platforms, as in the case of Microsoft Azure IOT.
Azure IOT is a platform that is built on decades of experience from the Microsoft company. The Azure IOT foundation was designed with a group of computer systems whose purpose was to create technology solutions dedicated to embedded devices that process signals for analytical use. Azure IOT connects services and applications using templates that deliver IOT ready services. And much like a Saas solution, it is easy to use with low code and built with the highest securities available.
When organizations take advantage of the Azure IOT platform, the benefits and innovation become infectious, fostering growth and integration in other IT sectors like industrial IOT and artificial intelligence (AI), AI driven machine learning, collaborative robots, and augmented reality (AR). The IOT revolution opens up an infinite number of growth opportunities that further development and enable businesses to do more. As consumers, IOT has transformed the way we live and what we use as devices to stay connected.