IoT, The Internet Of Things: A New Frontier

IoT

Objects associated with the organization can make the joining between the physical and advanced world: what is the Web of Things (IoT), and what are its actual capacity and applications? The Internet of Things is a bunch of innovations, yet not just: it is a worldview and a bet on what’s to come. The advertisers of the IoT have faith in the chance of making objects, and the Web collaborates in another way. They trust in a legitimate mix between the computerized and actual universes: another model wherein the consistent exchange of data between wise items will change the world.

What Is Meant By IoT?

Before going into the merits of the various IoT applications related to home automation, smart home, and intelligent mobility, it will undoubtedly be helpful to start from the basics. This means, first of all, providing some more information on the meaning of the word “IoT “: an acronym that stands for “Internet of Things” and which, in Italian, is generally translated as “Internet of Things” (or IDC). Talking about the Internet of Things means extending the network world into the physical world of objects and concrete places. The idea of ​​the Internet of Things is a possible evolution of the Internet as we already know it: a new network in which physical objects become able both to communicate information about themselves and to access data from other sources.

The term “objects” can then refer to the most disparate categories: to speak of “smart objects,” it is, in fact, sufficient that the object in question can connect to the Internet and process information, and interact with the surrounding environment. It matters little, therefore, that it is an alarm clock that manages to change its timer rather than a blister capable of alerting its owner if he has forgotten to take one or more drugs. We can speak of IoT in both cases (and in many others). Another application of the Internet of Things then provides that the different objects are equipped with unique identification signals, such as a QR code or an RFID tag that allows radio frequency identification.

QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes capable of containing thousands of numeric and alphanumeric characters: they are composed of a series of black modules positioned within a white square pattern. They can be read by optical sensors now also present in smartphones. The acronym QR stands for “Quick Response “or “Quick Response “: once the code is framed, the smartphone immediately offers the user a link to click on. A link can refer to the most disparate pages and information. RFID is also an acronym for “Radio-Frequency IDentification “or “radio frequency identification. ” RFID tags allow you to recognize, validate, and store information remotely.

Communication via radio frequency generally occurs between two elements: the first, passive, responds to proximity calls that originate from the second, active, also known as the “reader.” That said, regardless of the single technology involved, one of the most ambitious goals of the promoters of the IoT is to create an electronic world capable of mapping the real one. In other words, the complete development of the Internet of Things will make it possible to provide an electronic identity to things and places that characterize the physical world.

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The Advantages Of The IoT

The Internet of Things promises several more or less radical changes within many different spheres. A correct application of the IoT paradigm could lead to a reduction in the consumption of energy resources and, more generally, to a decrease in waste. The Internet of Things could improve the capacity of collecting and analyzing data in real-time, which could, in turn, translate into the natural prevention of unfavorable events (breakdowns, diseases, etc.). And again, the increasingly widespread diffusion of smart objects could enhance safety, develop the automation of many daily activities, and, more generally, improve the quality of life.

The premises of the IoT are already impressive and are likely to grow further as other enabling technologies are developed. Think, in this sense, of the implementation of 5G networks, which will allow a data transmission speed never seen before and a simultaneous reduction of the so-called “latency time.” The term “latency time” refers to the measurement of the response speed of a system. In computer science, the latency time is precisely that interval of time that passes between the moment in which an input signal is sent and that is where its output becomes available. In all likelihood, the IoT will also considerably benefit from the parallel development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks: technologies that will allow the management of ever-increasing amounts of data. 

At the same time, technologies will enable electronic processors to make decisions and develop faster and more correct forecasts than ever. In the new world of the Internet of Things, it is possible to imagine companies capable of automating even the most complicated processes. Companies can collect highly detailed customer information and transform them into increasingly useful and performing smart objects. The user himself will derive concrete benefits from the constant growth of the IoT: benefits linked not only to shopping experiences but also to daily life. 

Think, from this point of view, of home automation, thanks to which homes could soon be transformed into smart homes: intelligent places capable of optimizing energy resources, simplifying the use of technology, and even increasing the safety of those who live inside them. The same goes for the so-called “smart mobility, “or “intelligent mobility”: a new idea of ​​mobility that takes full advantage of the IoT to make the movements of the individual more comfortable, more convenient, and less impactful from an environmental point of view. And again, the widespread diffusion of home automation and smart mobility could lead to the construction of real smart cities: smart cities that, potentially, will be able to provide their citizens with a new daily experience. A flexible, connected, personalized, and sustainable experience.

Limitations And Dangers Of The IoT

The Internet of Things not only presents advantages and optimistic hypothetical scenarios. In fact, like all technologies, this also brings a whole series of limits, risks, and potential dangers, mainly if it develops uncontrolled. The first type of risk linked to the IoT is strictly technical and is related to the many minor flaws that could emerge in an increasingly widespread system. An apparently “harmless” example represents a clear example of a mark. Just imagine that two users, perhaps belonging to the same family, are connected to an intelligent object of the Internet of Things: perhaps to a smart refrigerator, which could notify the expiry date of any food inside it.

What would happen if both users received the same notification? Would they remember to compare each other, or would they both go and buy the expired food? This, of course, is a relative problem, which, however, helps to understand how far there is still to be done to make the IoT simpler and more performing. The second type of risk linked to the IoT instead calls into question a required field such as security. In the previous paragraph, we saw how, in the not-too-distant future, computers will be able to store, analyze and manage ever more significant quantities of data. Unfortunately, however, the growing presence of information within a single system is inherently dangerous: even the safest systems risk being compromised.

In this sense, it does not matter that the compromise results from an external violation (for example, a breach caused by a hacker attack) rather than an internal error. However, the result could be the same: the dissemination of confidential and potentially sensitive information. To get an idea of ​​the extent of this problem, think of all the devices that generally store passwords and login credentials. Imagining that a system containing millions of information can be compromised represents a real danger, both from the economic point of view and from that of individual freedoms. Sensitive data are not only the alphanumeric codes with which a user accesses their current online account: they are also personal information, such as those relating to marital status or health.

Data must be protected even in the face of possible vulnerabilities of objects and systems of the Internet of Things. For this reason, companies are preparing possible countermeasures, applying particular risk classification methodologies to “secure” their digital ecosystems. As it is easy to guess, the solutions change depending on the hardware or software component. From this point of view, the IoT is generally divided into four fundamental macro-categories: devices, communication, the cloud, and the user interface. The most sensitive and attentive companies to the issue of security and risks must therefore provide a framework capable of protecting the entire system chain. To do this, you need to analyze each of the four areas above, considering their different processes.

Areas Of Application Of The IoT

When we talk about broad concepts such as the Internet of Things, we play strength by bringing up the most disparate sectors. Not surprisingly, already in this historical moment, there are many areas in which it is possible to speak of a concrete application of the IoT or in which it is even possible to observe natural smart objects in action. Furthermore, the same paradigm of the Internet of Things provides for a continuous involvement between objects and places belonging to the most diverse fields: there are intelligent machines that receive information from road infrastructures. These smart homes organize the operation of individual appliances to reduce energy consumption. 

Finally, medical devices can immediately locate the most suitable structure to manage the individual patient. In short, all objects and places can potentially equip themselves with a unique identification system to absorb information about the surrounding environment and communicate it in case of need. In the same way, however, not all areas of the IoT can progress with the same speed: the different sectors have other starting conditions, and it is not sure that the technological solutions consolidated in a single field allow a smart update in the same time interval. To date, one of the main sectors that use the Internet of Things daily is undoubtedly home automation or that set of technologies that allow you to improve the quality of life inside a home. 

In fact, in the most advanced smart homes, it is already possible to control systems and devices remotely, receiving various information in real time. Similarly, intelligent mobility is already developing: a revolution affecting the automotive world and road safety. Thanks to the IoT, individual vehicles can communicate fundamental data to prevent traffic and road accidents. Speaking instead of future scenarios, precisely the connection of smart homes, smart cars, and intelligent mobility could lead to the creation of so-called smart cities: smart cities, in which the various services (one above all public transport) will be managed thanks to continuous updates from thousands of smart objects. 

In addition, the Internet of Things also includes numerous applications unrelated to everyday life in the city. Think, in this sense, of agriculture and the possibility of monitoring climatic parameters in detail. Or again, artificial intelligence applied to logistics, sales, and marketing allows you to transform the classic customer journey into a highly personalized experience. And again, think of the possibilities linked to medical and sports smart objects or the impact that sufficiently developed IoT could have on processes and production chains.

Examples Of Using The IoT

At this point, all that remains is to provide some more concrete examples of the current use of the Internet of Things. As mentioned, home automation is already a particularly advanced area from this point of view. Several smart homes allow their owners to interact intelligently with various devices, perhaps using a voice assistant. Devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google Nest can be used to request the reproduction of information and audio files. On the contrary, the user can use them to “communicate” with the television, the appliances, the heating system, and even the electrical system. 

The important thing is that every link in the chain is dedicated to the IoT: this means that the house in question, in addition to a voice assistant, must have a smart TV, latest-generation appliances, smart bulbs, and other devices. Another particularly fascinating area of ​​the IoT is undoubtedly that of intelligent mobility. An Internet Of Things that gets directly on board vehicles can revolutionize the classic concept of travel. In this case, the thought goes first of all to Tesla: the Elon Musk manufacturer that already offers self-driving cars, thanks to particular IoT hardware and software. 

This type of car is equipped with sensors capable of “seeing” at 360 °, with a radius of 250 meters. Sensors, among other things, can overcome any obstructions: rain, fog, dust, and even physical obstacles (people, other cars, etc.). But the possibilities of a self-driving car are not limited to autopilot. A vehicle that takes full advantage of the Internet of Things is, in fact, potentially able to choose the most suitable route based on traffic conditions: to change road in the event of an accident, to adapt its speed to the climatic conditions, even to look for a garage if you find an evident inability to continue.

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