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What Is: the Internet of Things

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Following the recent launch of our “Cellular 101: A Glossary of Terms” help guide, has launched a weekly “What Is” blog series to provide even more insight into the cellular industry.

In this week’s edition we look at the Internet of Things.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things, or IoT, describes a network of physical objects, and by their extension animals or people, all of which are connected to the Internet and able to share data via this connection. These “things” can consist of anything from the expected mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and wearable devices, to the more random washing machines, home heating systems, lighting and pretty much anything else.

What does IoT enable?

Embedded sensors, actuators, and other similar technologies, collect and transmit information about connected objects in the network of things. The data collected can then be analysed to help to deliver improvements to individuals, businesses, society, and so on.

A consumer-based example of this is somebody using a wearable fitness device which tracks their heart rate, that is then connected to an app on their smart phone which analyses this data to tell the individual when they should increase and decrease the intensity of their exercise to optimise their training.

A business-based example of this is a manufacturer using machines with embedded sensors which transmit real-time information about what’s happening on the production line, so that employees can better monitor performance. This enables manufacturers to improve asset utilisation, lower the cost of ownership, improve workforce efficiency and risk management, and ultimately speed up time to market.

The Internet of Things is also known as the Internet of Everything, and is growing rapidly. Leading research firms are all predicting exponential growth in the coming years:

Markets and Markets: combined global market value of M2M and the IoT will be $947.29 Billion by 2019

Gartner: IoT product and service suppliers will generate revenue exceeding £300 Billion by 2020

IDC: worldwide market for IoT solutions will grow to $7.1 Trillion, with 30 million things forming part of the IoT, by 2020

Cellular’s role in the IoT

The type of connectivity powering the Internet of Things consists of fixed line, cellular and satellite. As more and more things are developed with the capability to connect however – and need to be able to connect anywhere, anytime – cellular is becoming a more important form of connectivity as it is highly scalable and flexible. It can also be a more cost effective solution in many cases.

3G and 4G networks are existing wireless infrastructures that are just waiting to be connected to. By using cellular, “things” can get connected almost-instantly and transmit data in real-time from any location, at any time – truly enabling the Internet of Things.