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What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

What does IoT stand for?

IoT stands for the Internet of Things. 

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Simply put, the Internet of Things is a system of interconnected physical devices that communicate via the Internet. These Internet of Things devices collect and share data with other devices, applications, and systems, and in many ways the data “talks” to us and the other things it’s connected to.

From wearables to industrial sensors, IoT devices generate sensory, biotelemetry, and a myriad of other types of data.

How does IoT work? 

IoT is a system of Internet-connected devices. These devices are essentially mini-computer processors that use machine learning to act on data collected by sensors. IoT devices can range from smart warehouse vehicles to fitness trackers to cold storage temperature monitors. 

A complete IoT system integrates 4 parts:

1. Sensors/devices

Smart devices or sensors pass data to the cloud.

2. Data Collection and Connectivity

Data is passed from a device or sensor to the cloud via some type of connection. How these devices connect varies and depends on the purpose of the device.

The common methods today include:

- HTTP/S

- Bluetooth

- RFID readers

FTP 

And a host of new communications protocols specific to IoT.

Through one of the methods listed above, data is passed to a gathering point at a data center or within the cloud. 

3. Data Processing and/or Machine Learning

After the IoT device collects data from its surroundings data and aggregates the information within a data center or cloud, software processes it. The device can decide to perform an action like sending an alert to a user or automatically adjusting a sensor without user intervention.

As data is assembled, many IoT devices can learn about user preferences and automatically adjust to match those preferences. The combination of data processing and machine learning is what makes some IoT products smart devices.

The fact that IoT devices can learn without programming is incredibly valuable. 

Think of the smart thermostat that automatically adjusts itself to the ideal indoor temperature or the smart refrigerator that does not just notify you that you are low on a certain grocery item, but automatically orders a replacement.  

4. User Interface

While automation continues to revolutionize how we interact with IoT devices, there are some decisions or actions that need to be enabled by a traditional user interface. A user may want to adjust the temperature of a thermostat using his or her smartphone or check the IoT security camera they have installed in their house using the same phone. If user input or intervention is required, an IoT user interface enables the user to respond accordingly. 

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