IoT Buzzwords (Part 1)

The term Internet of Things or “IoT” was initially invented in 1999 to promote RFID technology. However, the popularity of the term IoT didn’t accelerate until 2011, with mass market adoption in 2014 following the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas taking place under the theme of IoT. Below, we take a look at some of the buzzwords associated with IoT.


The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data. Thanks to the arrival of super-cheap computer chips and the ubiquity of wireless networks, it's possible to turn anything, from something as small as a pill to something as big as an aeroplane, into a part of the IoT. Connecting up all these different objects and adding sensors to them adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate real-time data without involving a human being. The Internet of Things is making the fabric of the world around us smarter and more responsive, merging the digital and physical universes.


IoT network protocols are used to connect devices over the network. These are the set of communication protocols typically used over the Internet. Using IoT network protocols, end-to-end data communication within the scope of the network is allowed. Following are the various IoT Network protocols such as WiFi, Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, ZigBee, Z-Wave, 5G, LoRAWAN, NFC, and Beacon, among others. Some protocols develop into standards in order to facilitate cross device communication. 


A device that measures a particular characteristic of a surrounding environment like temperature, sound, movement, etc. Sensors and actuators connect to the physical world through a hub/gateway. A sensor should only monitor the specific characteristic it is designed to monitor and not be influenced by other variables. Actuators convert electrical energy into mechanical energy (e.g., motion).  

Connected Devices

Connected devices are physical objects that can connect with each other and other systems via the internet. They span everything from traditional computing hardware, such as a laptop or desktop, to common mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, to an increasingly wide range of physical devices and objects. This growing list of objects includes household appliances, heating and cooling systems, vehicles, health and fitness monitors, environmental sensors, and more. These devices, which are commonly embedded with technology such as processing chips, software, and sensors, collect data and share it with other devices and systems. Connected devices are typically monitored and controlled remotely. They connect with the internet and each other via various wired and wireless networks and protocols, such as WiFi, NFC, 3G and 4G networks. 


IoT connectivity is typically how we refer to the methods used to connect IoT devices—methods including applications, sensors, trackers, gateways and network routers. In the IoT industry, however, IoT connectivity is also a term commonly used to describe the specific IoT network solutions that can power this kind of connectivity. This could be WiFi, cellular or LPWAN, to name but a few. 


An IoT Gateway is a solution for enabling IoT communication, usually device -to-device communications or device-to-cloud communications. The gateway is typically a hardware device housing application software that performs essential tasks. At its most basic level, the gateway facilitates the connections between different data sources and destinations. A simple way to conceive of an IoT Gateway is to compare it to your home or office network router or gateway. Such a gateway facilitates communication between your devices, maintains security and provides an admin interface where you can perform basic functions. An IoT Gateway does this and much more. 

Edge Computing

Edge computing is a networking philosophy focused on bringing computing as close to the source of data as possible in order to reduce latency and bandwidth use. In simpler terms, edge computing means running fewer processes in the cloud and moving those processes to local places, such as on a user’s computer, an IoT device, or an edge server. Bringing computation to the network’s edge minimises the amount of long-distance communication that has to happen between a client and server.

Look out for part 2 of IoT Buzzwords next week!

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