What Is the Internet of Things?
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Jul 26, 2021

There’s a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT) and its impact on our day-to-day lives. From home security systems to smart watches, IoT is upgrading the technologies we rely on every day to architect a network of interconnected devices. But what is the IoT? And how has it become so pervasive across multiple industries?   

Breaking Down IoT  

The Internet of Things is the concept of connecting devices to the internet and other computing devices. This network of connected objects, equipped with sensors, can collect and, in some cases, act on the data they receive from their environments without requiring human interaction.  

So what is exactly is a thing? A thing in the IoT can be any object that is assigned an internet protocol (IP) address and can transfer data over a network. For example, a car that provides a driver’s loved ones with a notification in the event of a crash or a smart watch informing its wearer to walk a few more steps around the block to reach a fitness goal are “things.”


Common IoT Applications

The appetite for IoT devices is only growing. Tech analyst company IDC predicts there will be nearly 42 billion connected IoT devices by 2025, with the industrial and automotive sectors experiencing the bulk of the growth. In other words, every second, another 127 devices are connected to the internet.  

Most people are already using the IoT. For example, smart speaker devices are being used in 31% of homes in the United States and that number is projected to jump to 75% by 2025. From controlling home lighting to traveling in an airplane, IoT has been tangibly, albeit quietly, improving our daily lifestyles.  

IoT does not just end there, either. Devices like motion sensors on a sidewalk or smart thermostats inside the home are among other noteworthy applications. The IoT market is growing at a frenetic pace. It is expected that, within the next two years, a staggering 70% of cars will be equipped with internet connectivity.

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Global Use Cases

Cost-effective chip technology and improving wireless networks allow otherwise disconnected things to connect  through sensors, thus adding what is known as digital intelligence to devices. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for IoT technology has never been greater, with schools, businesses, and governments operating in a remote capacity. Enabled by chip technology, each of the top-10 growing chip markets is expected to experience a substantial increase in sales. Let’s take a look at some IoT use cases around the globe. 

In India, the agriculture sector is experiencing significant growth with IoT technology. Fasal’s IoT device has been deployed across more than 10,000 acres of farmland and has saved more than three billion liters of water. The device is giving farmers unprecedented insights into how their farms operate to improve productivity. Specifically, the device leverages sensors and transmitters to help farmers observe moisture levels and identify mildew before its arrival to help them save water. Farmers in India have improved yield by 20% in a single year using this device. 

China is leveraging the IoT to improve practices across in consumer electronics, automation, industrial, transportation, and healthcare. In fact, the country spun up the “Made in China 2025” initiative in 2015 to place a premium on IoT development. As such, China is set to surpass the U.S. as the largest IoT market in the world within the next three years, and accounts for nearly 27% of global IoT spend. China is investing within the automotive industry to monitor traffic elements including traffic, navigation, and car speeds. 

The United States is also boosting its automotive industry with IoT technology. Through IBM Watson, the US is integrating IoT into vehicles to not only connect them, but also assist with spatial awareness, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot recognition. With connected vehicles utilizing sensors, these vehicles can provide driver insights and pertinent vehicle statistics to measure historical usage, share real-time analytics, and predict car trouble. 

In Europe, consumer goods and manufacturing are noticing the most improvement from IoT technology. The European IoT market size is growing rapidly and is responsible for 23% of the world’s IoT spend. Beyond the consumer goods market, Europe is heavily investing in utilities to develop smart grids for more efficient electricity, water, and gas.  

As cities and technologies continue to develop, the number of industries relying on IoT capabilities will continue to rise. Built on top of chip technology, industries like the automotive industry, healthcare, and farming have already seen substantial improvement and are poised to continue to evolve. 

The IoT is enabling a smarter, safer, and more sustainable world. As more things are connected, more data is captured, creating the potential for continued transformation in our everyday lives.