You've likely heard the term "Internet of Things" at some point from a colleague, an article, or an advertisement. But the term is broad and can cover an overwhelming amount of information.
In short, the Internet of Things refers to the rapidly growing network of connected objects that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. Thermostats, cars, lights, refrigerators, and more appliances can all be connected to the IoT.
To help clarify how the Internet of Things works, we've laid out some applications for the IoT, along with some specific devices and examples.
Applications of the Internet of Things
- Smart Home: The smart home is likely the most popular IoT application at the moment because it is the one that is most affordable and readily available to consumers. From the Amazon Echo to the Nest Thermostat, there are hundreds of products on the market that users can control with their voices to make their lives more connected than ever.
- Wearables: Watches are no longer just for telling time. The Apple Watch and other smartwatches on the market have turned our wrists into smartphone holsters by enabling text messaging, phone calls, and more. And devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone have helped revolutionize the fitness world by giving people more data about their workouts.
- Smart Cities: The IoT has the potential to transform entire cities by solving real problems citizens face each day. With the proper connections and data, the Internet of Things can solve traffic congestion issues and reduce noise, crime, and pollution.
- Connected Car: These vehicles are equipped with Internet access and can share that access with others, just like connecting to a wireless network in a home or office. More vehicles are starting to come equipped with this functionality, so prepare to see more apps included in future cars.
Internet of Things Devices & Examples
- Amazon Echo - Smart Home: The Amazon Echo works through its voice assistant, Alexa, which users can talk to in order to perform a variety of functions. Users can tell Alexa to play music, provide a weather report, get sports scores, order an Uber, and more.
- Fitbit One - Wearables: The Fitbit One tracks your steps, floors climbed, calories burned, and sleep quality. The device also wirelessly syncs with computers and smartphones in order to transmit your fitness data in understandable charts to monitor your progress.
- Barcelona - Smart Cities: The Spanish city is one of the foremost smart cities in the world after it implemented several IoT initiatives that have helped enhance smart parking and the environment.
- AT&T - Connected Car: AT&T added 1.3 million cars to its network in the second quarter of 2016, bringing the total number of cars it connects to 9.5 million. Drivers don't have to subscribe or pay a monthly fee for data in order for AT&T to count them as subscribers.