It’s All Connected: Understanding the Internet of Things

I remember, when I was a kid, teachers would tell us to show our work on math problems because “we wouldn’t have calculators with us all the time.” I remember the days when I would take a cell phone, a camera and a Walkman on school field trips. I remember getting up to change the channel on the massive television that sat in the living room. Now, I sit at my desk and adjust the thermostat in my home 35 miles away on a phone that has also become my camera, calculator, music player … and so much more. My world certainly has changed, and I’m only 31! 

How are we able to do all of this from one device? It’s a little thing called the Internet of Things.

What is the Internet of Things?

In the simplest of terms, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept of connecting any device with an off/on switch to the Internet and other connected devices. It’s a giant network of connected things and people, all of which collect and share data about the way they are used and the environment around them.

It’s mind blowing just how many objects are included in the network—from smart refrigerators to self-driving cars, from wearable fitness trackers to smart footballs that can track how far and fast they are traveling. It’s insane, but it’s our normal way of life at this point. Without the interconnectivity of these devices, our lives would be oh-so-different. 

How does it work exactly?

An IoT ecosystem consists of web-enabled smart devices that use embedded systems, such as processors, sensors and communication hardware to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments. IoT devices then share the sensor data collected by connecting to an IoT gateway or other edge device where data is either sent to the cloud to be analyzed or analyzed locally. 

That was a lot of techy words, but the important thing to know is the devices do most of the work without human intervention, aside from setting up the device in the first place. 

Let’s talk about my fitness tracker for example. I bought a fitness tracker, created an account, put it on and now go about my daily life. The device then tells the app on my phone and the website where I created my account all the info about my daily activities. It collects my heartbeat from a sensor underneath, counts my steps by the movement of the device itself and tracks my sleep patterns based on the lack of movement and slower heart rate. All of this can also be shared with my weight loss app to show what I did and how many calories I’ve burned. It’s all connected!

Why is the IoT important?

The new rule for the future is moving towards anything that can be connected, will be connected. But why on earth would you want so many connected devices talking to each other? There’s great potential value, that’s why. Let’s say you get up for work to the sound of your alarm clock, which then notifies your coffee maker to turn on and start brewing for you. You get in your car and, since it has access to your calendar and traffic patterns, it navigates the quickest route. You get to work and the printer is low on toner, but you don’t have to worry because the printer already re-ordered more automatically. As the end of your workday rolls around, your lightbulbs slowly dim, notifying you it’s time to go home. 

What a world.

The IoT doesn’t only have great potential for your personal life. When you design a website, you now have to make sure the front-end interface can communicate with other smart devices. IoT devices record and transfer data to monitor important processes, give us new insight, boost efficiency and allow companies to make more informed decisions. They tell organizations what’s really happening, rather than what they assume or hope is happening on their website. 

The IoT market is expected to grow to $520 billion in 2021. This includes hardware, software, system integrations and data and telecom services. This industry has grown more than 100 percent since 2017’s $235 billion. 

How can I use IoT on my website?

The good news is you’re reading this article, which means you’re headed in the right direction. Our dedicated web design team at Rooted Web can help your organization find and utilize the best option for your industry. Let’s chat!

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Samantha Prost

Samantha Prost is a digital content writer with five years of experience who uses her upbeat and creative energy to write fresh, fun and custom content for our clients.

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