AI 101: The Internet of Things (IoT)

internet on phone
Photo by Franck on Unsplash

Interconnected

As the song goes: “we’re all connected with each other,” rings true today. If you look around, we are not only in the Information Age but are transitioning into a more high-tech era, an era where everything is embedded with smart technology and is controlled by a smartphone via WiFi, bluetooth or some other form of network connection. This is the internet of things. What internet of things?

The term might sound like a Harry Potter slash Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy mashup, but in all seriousness it has shaped the way many people, institutions, and businesses run their lives.

What is Internet of Things?

What Internet of Things is and its whole concept is interconnectivity. Say, you have different devices that have smart technology in it such as a smart watch and a headphone, and connect both to your smartphone via bluetooth connection. These three connected devices—plus the user—that operate in harmony and share data with each other, is what Internet of Things is all about.

And how does artificial intelligence enters the scene? When we tackle about system automation, system monitoring, and real-time attribute calibration with reinforcement learning things do get interesting, because here is where AI is applied in IoT.

History of Internet of Things

It all started with a humble customized vending machine in 1982. At Carnegie Mellon University, they programmed their soda dispensing machines to report its inventory and item temperature status to a computer via ARPANET (it is like an old form of internet). The term then was coined in 1985 by Peter Lewis.

After this, around 1991, a paper was published about ubiquitous computing that talks about computing that can be done everywhere at any time, with any device, using any format and through any location. Since then, the idea has been lobbied at conferences and has slowly gained ground for using it commercially and in different industries.

Example for Internet of Things in Different Sectors

An example for internet of things is in the healthcare sector, where they can monitor, assess, and analyze patient needs. Smart beds have been employed in the healthcare system to better aid patients, specially senior citizens. Medical professionals and health insurance companies can use this data to diagnose (for physicians) and provide help for patients easily just by accessing it through a database.

Another example for internet of things is in the industrial sector, wherein implementation of a smart building means lower energy consumptions costs and improved performance of machineries. Smart systems can automate the use HVAC equipment and make them more efficient and energy-saving.

Yet another example for internet of things is in the agriculture and livestock sector, where collection and analysis of data is utilized to dramatically improve crop health and crop yield, and livestock condition and propagation, all with minimal effort and use of resources.

IoT is also used as a smart overseer of oceans and environments, such as sensing air, humidity, temperature, water, and soil quality, as well as natural calamities. IoT can be implemented by the government, and different institutions and organizations to dispense needed information for disaster response.

The internet of things is also used in the retail industry. IoT can be integrated in product barcodes by allowing barcode information to be monitored of stock availability, condition and price. RFID chips are also being used to record each of the phase in the supply chain from start to end, like product ordering to product delivering.

IoT has been integrated in the military, maritime, and transportation. The military uses monitoring systems, smart devices and other high-tech machine and equipment to facilitate and assist the institution’s missions. The military has also used IoT with artificial intelligence to strategize on worst case scenarios and for the advancement of military science. Meanwhile, boats and cars can benefit from the IoT through assessing vehicular conditions and other attributes for safe travels.

Privacy, Safety and Security Concerns

Main concerns arise from using the Internet of Things, especially if used in the private networks like at home or inside an office. There have been privacy issues with using IoT, as any network can be infiltrated and information can be used against the user/s.

And there are also concerns with regards to safety, as smart devices either usually go obsolete and cannot keep up with the latest features, or its support for software upgrades is lacking, hence, being prone to bugs and vulnerability. How can you use a smart device if it has bugs? It is scary as hell, you just might lock your doors with a manual key, especially at night.

Then there are security issues because companies where you bought your devices and your government would be able to know your personal preferences and daily activities. How can you be so sure they are using it for your benefit and not wholly theirs?

Solutions to These Concerns

The IoT is very advantageous to man-made micro ecosystems like a home system or to an industrial plantation. It automates, monitors, suggests, and performs the needed operations that would regulate and improve an environment, which it efficiently and speedily does.

But with its connection and data mining vulnerabilities, we can only take the big leap in trusting our devices and its makers to work using top rated security features. Also, do not connect any device in the IoT web of connection that has your most sensitive information. It is hard, but doable nonetheless.

Data encryption is also a cool technology to be integrated into your personal system, especially when transferring data through cloud.

Wrap Up

What internet of things is it is the interconnection of smart devices that can work and share data together. What Internet of Things does is to instantiate results, improve device efficiency and performance, and use it for the benefit of a system, like in a house, so that a user’s daily activity will be easy and more convenient.

The concept, coming from a personalized vending machine that notes items and relays it to a computer, has been used in many different industries and has proven to be useful and effective. Although it has its weaknesses, we can still apply other features in an IoT system to secure our connection and information.

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