What is IoT (Internet of Things) and what is it for?

Blog 38
Internet of Things (IoT) is the second most popular technology concept after Cloud. So is IoT the Cloud, or does IoT represent something else?

1. What is IoT?

1.1 A definition of IoT

Internet of Things – IoT is a concept that refers to the connection between different devices to form a giant connected device network. Units in this network are capable of transmitting data to each other without requiring human interaction. And any device that has the ability to connect to the Internet can become an IoT element.

A typical structure of an IoT system should be:

  • Things
  • Gateway
  • Network and Cloud
  • Application layer

An IoT system structure

(A common IoT structure)

IoT plays an important role for the development of the industry. Helping smart device vendors and their customers to control devices remotely or manage and monitoring them in real-time with ease.


1.2 How important is IoT to us?

IoT comes from the need of us for "automation". And because of the development of technology which’ve been creating new technologies and many different devices onto those techs. So in order to easily manage and effectively use the power of all those things, IoT was born as a platform for all techonological devices to "communicate" and transmit data to each other.

So, these following systems need IoT to effectively manage the "communication" ability. It can be deployed in Manufacturing plant, Water distribution system, Traffic regulation system or simply devices in your smart home. This not only gives the owner management ability, but also saves him time and costs.

Robots can self-control to work by IoT

(If robots knew how to "self-direct" work to each other, how much effort would you save?)


2. How are we using IoT?

The Internet of Things can be deployed in all fields of technology such as automation, production management, infrastructure management, sensor control, water supply and drainage, health monitoring, smart home, smart car, etc. Any industry that needs technology devices can apply IoT.

(Over 50 billion IoT devices were connected)


2.1 Popular areas are applying IoT

Let’s take a look at the graph below:

Top 10 IoT Applications fields 2020

 (Data from IoT-Analytics.com)

It can be seen that the Manufacturing industries are in great demand for efficient management and operation of machines. Automating the production process and reducing operating personnel is the trend of factories around the world. With such characteristics, in the future, developing IoT for the Manufacturing industries is almost a must.

The Transportation is also "rush" to the IoT wave because of the emergence of smart cars or electric vehicles with advanced technology devices installed more and more on recently launched models. Their main goal is to monitor the travel route and ensure the safety of customers.

In Healthcare, IoT devices are used to closely monitor patient health (eg: bracelet). Those devices keep updating accurate information for doctors to follow the treatment. Even better, medical now can support the patient immediately if there are signs of danger. In addition, hospitals can also use IoT to manage pharmaceuticals and medical equipments in stock.

Agriculture or Construction are areas that do not have many IoT applications. Because it partly have to rely on human decisions. But IoT devices in these industries is increasing as more and more machines are involved in working with humans (e.g. automatic irrigation, vegetable sorting machines, construction quality monitoring, supervision of occupational safety, etc.)


2.2 Without IoT, how it would be?

When things get too big, they need an productive management.

A small system may not clearly demonstrate its problems. But when it become a bigger one, its problems are obvious. Those are: costs, time, efficiency, and risks for the whole solution we would deploy without IoT.

New technologies show up every day, which means devices are getting more and more advanced and powerful. IoT was born just for this purpose, connecting technological devices together, helping them to store, communicate and transmit data. If these devices cannot communicate effectively. So haven't we wasted our money and works!?

Lost connection

(Without IoT, devices can not communicate well)


3. Pros and cons of IoT

3.1 Pros

  • Access and manage a wide range of devices anywhere, anytime.
  • The functions for each type of machine is defined well, creating a seamless processing flow.
  • Automating the entire process, the operator only needs to control quality at the end.
  • Can scale up to any number of devices on demand, up to hundreds or thousands of devices at the same time.
  • Time and money saving for the owner.
  • Detect any issues immediately, less time to fix.


3.2 Cons

  • There is a lot of data generated from IoT devices, must be careful if we don’t want to be overload.
  • Large network of devices makes it easy for hackers to break in and exploit data.
  • While problems can be detected quickly, a few malfunctioning devices can affect the entire system.
  • IoT devices can come from many different vendors and have their own set of standards. So, linking all of them into a system is not easy.


4. Who is using IoT?

Currently, there are many organizations and companies in the world that are applying IoT for their businesses.

Amazon - a famous name in the global technology is operating an IoT system to manage and connect their devices. Amazon is adopting services like IoT Core, Greengrass, Analytics, and more to utilize the power of IoT to serve their consumers.

Intel - the world's largest maker of semiconductors and microprocessors, uses IoT to manage manufacturing processes, microchips, network controllers, and developer kits to connect devices and give the system scalability.

IBM - a giant computing corporation, is developing their own IBM Watson IoT platform. Focused on simplification, security, and scalability, IBM Watson IoT provides analytics services and Blockchain technology to turn data from devices into useful applications.

Google - the name is no stranger to us, using their huge data center to create Google Cloud IoT for control, real-time asset tracking, logistics and supply chain management, etc. With this system, Google provides us a complete set of tools to connect and use their data analysis devices, helping busineses improve efficiency.

Google Cloud IoT model

(Google Cloud IoT model)


5. What do we need to set up an IoT system?

The industrial IoT system setup requirements can be listed as follows:

  • Cloud: Cloud allows the storage and processing of unstructured and structured data into real-time information.
  • Operating devices: mainly smart devices, directly performing the work, with built-in quick network connectivity.
  • Access devices: devices that participate in the management process and return results to users, and still possess the same network connection as the operating devices.
  • Analyzers: devices that analyze large amounts of data and direct the processing flow of other devices.
  • Human: it doesn’t mean you need as many people as usually, but someone must be responsible for monitoring the IoT system, ensuring data security and troubleshooting if any problems arise.

An IoT system as large as those companies above certainly needs more than this model to be able to run smoothly. But for startups, this model would be optimal.