The Internet of Things does not need to be so complicated, it’s often thought of this mysterious thing that might save us so much money we can buy a boat and sail for the rest of our life. It’s also thought of something that might take our jobs!
A New Way of Thinking
In any case, there is no reason for the complexity, it’s just a new way of thinking versus a new technology. If we start to think about how IoT works there are no “new” technologies used! It’s the same old stuff just repackaged to sound cool and amazing. Don’t get me wrong, IoT is very cool and is seriously amazing it’s just wrapped in too much hype and mystique.
The Parts of IoT
The reason IoT is wrapped in this magical aura is that IoT can get complex and confusing. It’s also very new and just starting to be adopted by major enterprises and companies. You also hear hype about how it will change our lives and “make the world a better place”. Has IoT really lived up to the hype? As someone who works with IoT every day, I don’t believe that has. An extraordinary number of great ideas have come from this new way of thinking and has changed a lot for the better. Look at Google Home and Amazons Alexa as two very cool examples.
If we sit down and start to think about IoT and the parts involved we can start to pull back this hyped up mysterious Internet of Things and begin to untangle it.
Let’s look at what makes up a basic IoT project and see if that helps;
- You have some physical device or sensor.
– This could be a button, motion detector, garage door, iBeacon and more.
- WiFi or Ethernet, regardless of how it connects you need an internet connection.
– Some devices need another device called a “Hub” or “Gateway” that is connected to the internet. (Explained below)
- On the other end of that internet connection is just a cloud server.
- When you load up that App or dashboard it’s just like any other app or website, nothing new except now you have data from a physical device.
Wait, What’s New?
Looking at the above list, what’s new about the technology? As someone who has been building hardware and software for 15+ years nothing is really new in the picture. Yes, new and cool “IoT Devices” have been developed and are flooding the market. Looking closely at the devices most just use WiFi to communicate, and that’s been around for quite a long time.
To most people, IoT feels exciting and new, like some magician just pulled a rabbit out of his hat! So, why does it feel like this?
That’s because IoT is just a new way of thinking about how to use current technology to solve more problems in a more efficient way. Take the garage door from my list above:
Before the internet connected garage door opener someone had to have a garage door “clicker” or be inside the home to open it up. Now, with IoT and an internet connected garage door – when I am on a trip far from home and my next door neighbor is going to take my trash out, he can simply text me to open it up remotely and let me know once he is done and I can shut it!
The garage door is a simple example and one that solves a very simple problem, it’s an IoT solution that was easily implemented using existing technology. Again – IoT is about thinking in new ways. “How can I solve my current problems or make things more efficient by using a combination of new or existing hardware & software?” In some cases, we may need to introduce new hardware as I mentioned above called “Hub” or “Gateway”. This will allow you to communicate with existing hardware if that existing hardware has some form of communication method. An example would be:
I have a warehouse, and my warehouse employees use a barcode scanner that has a Bluetooth connection. This BT connection is normally just used to communicate with its base station. Now let’s say I want to collect all the scans into a database. Each time one of my employees uses the scanner to scan a barcode I want to know about it, and save that interaction. Unfortunately, the scanners do not communicate directly to the internet, but they do use the Bluetooth communication method. I can place a “Hub” in my warehouse that will listen to the Bluetooth scanners, and because the “Hub” is connected to the internet through Ethernet I can send my data to a database.
Solutions like the one above can get even more complex as additional hardware, Radio Frequency (RF) protocols, and technology is introduced to solve even greater problems. As we add more, people start to have trouble understanding IoT – it can get complex in a hurry.
The Internet of Things is still finding its stride, people are still trying to warp there brain around how to use it and get started. When it really comes down to it, IoT is simply a new way to start thinking about things. We can start solving complex issues that combine physical world data with digital information to make faster and smarter decisions. When untangling a new IoT project, its best to seek IoT experts and consultants like Echolo who have already successfully implemented IoT solutions. Companies that do find assistance are far more likely to succeed at an implementation than companies that have a go at it on there own.
The Right Platform Makes a Difference
The Echolo Internet of Things Platform delivers your data from the physical world to the digital one. Our platform and network were built from the ground up to reduce the complexity of traditional systems making it easy for you to get your products to market faster. Echolo’s IoT Platform offers unmatched flexibility and ease of use, at a reasonable price point.