The “internet of things” (IoT) is a catch-all term for devices that are connected to the internet and exchange or communicate information. Until fairly recently, IoT was primarily reserved to describe applications in commercial, industrial, or infrastructure sectors. Now, with the rise of smart homes, connected vehicles, wearable technology, connected health applications, and the like, IoT has migrated into our homes and offices.
Some examples of IoT devices include smart home products such as light bulbs, security systems, doorbells, cameras, and speakers. By definition, it extends the power of the internet beyond typical electronic devices — to “things”; devices that are traditionally connected to the internet, such as smartphones or computers, are not considered IoT devices.
As the popularity of IoT devices increases and prices fall, the IoT network grows ever larger. It is predicted that by 2025, there will be 41 billion connected things. While at first IoT may seem vast and complicated, there are many simple ways you can integrate IoT devices into your home.
Before attempting a DIY IoT project, it’s helpful to understand the basics of what IoT is and how it works: through a combination of sensors and actuators to connect a physical device to the internet. Sensors measure physical properties. For example, a sensor might measure an environment’s temperature and then convert those external properties into a signal to send to an actuator, which uses this information to choose an action. If the temperature is above or below a certain number, it can adjust the thermostat to shift back towards what you want it to be.
It’s important to have the right infrastructure in place. Some IoT devices are Bluetooth-connected, which is straightforward and simple. Others may need more hardware and physical connectivity. When devices need to connect to the network, that’s when hiring a professional is important as these devices move a lot of information around on the network. This network “traffic” can affect your internet speed and ability to do things you might be used to such as streaming audio or video. Common DIY home installations include thermostats, security cameras, IoT alarm clocks, and smart garage doors.
A successful IoT project considers your day-to-day problems and uses a connected product to solve or make that problem much easier to handle. The following describes the two main use-case types in terms of IoT projects.
- Sensor-based projects. These are the easiest type of IoT projects to complete alone. They involve reading sensor values and using them locally with connected devices to make decisions. Sensors can read temperature, pressure, humidity, light, and gas, among other properties, and make changes in your home based on those levels.
- Cloud-based projects. These projects are more complex, as they require an IoT cloud to store and analyze data, as well as connect across other devices in your IoT system. There are many “cloud” options to choose from, and you can weigh their features, security, and other properties when making a decision that meets your needs. This type of project is typically used when you need to store data to visualize it and analyze trends at a later date. In cloud-based projects, the data collected through sensors is sent to the cloud via the internet. You can then remotely control and monitor your IoT devices via the internet.
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IoT can add a great deal of convenience and flexibility to your home, letting you control many functions with just the touch of a button on your electronic device! If you’d like to learn more about IoT and its use in your home, Refined Systems provides many options to cater to your needs. Contact us at Refined Systems to learn more about our products and services.