In the tech world today, one of the fastest growing trends is the Internet of Things (IoT for short). We admit, it does sound like one of those buzzwords that is meant to sound impressive but doesn’t really mean anything specific. But in this case, it most definitely is not just a buzzword.
It’s a way of using technology to make your life less stressful and free up your time and energy to do the things that are really important to you.
So we’ve created this article to help demystify the phrase and talk about what it actually is, how it works, what you can do with it, and even how you can make money by investing in it! So keep reading to learn everything you need to know!
The idea behind IoT has been around since at least the 80s - and even earlier if we look at science fiction stories from the past that imagine what future technology might be able to do. But if you try to search for a definition online, you’ll probably run into a lot of confusing jargon or too abstract explanations.
To put it in plain terms that actually make sense, the Internet of Things simply refers to having things that can connect to the internet. This makes them different from regular things which have no ability to send or receive signals over the internet.
It’s why a cellphone that checks email, browses the internet, and has apps that use the internet is called a “smartphone” while one of those bricks from the 90s is just a regular “dumb” phone.
It’s the difference between an alarm clock that is just a clock with the ability to set an alarm and a smart alarm clock that can read your EEG waves to know when you will wake up most easily and wake you up with reports about the weather and traffic that it pulled from the internet while you were sleeping.
After reading that simplified definition, you might be wondering exactly how IoT is different from home automation. And the truth is, they are very much related. However, home automation is a broader term that covers any part of the home that has been automated even if the machine is not “smart” (connected to the internet). The “dumb” phone and alarm clock we mentioned above would still be considered home automation devices in the broadest sense of the term.
The Internet of Things specifically refers not only to home automation products generally but to the ability for all of your gadgets and appliances to talk to each other and coordinate in a network. So the internet of things is maybe better explained as the internet of connected things.
If you have a bunch of separate smart devices in your home that just work independently and can’t connect with each other, this is not an example of IoT. Only when you have created a connected network in which all your smart devices are talking and working together can you properly call it IoT.
IoT works in one of 2 ways. First, it will modify existing technology like washing machines, coffee pots, thermostats, and so on to include programming and internet of things software that enable them to talk to your phone, tablet, or a smart home hub, meaning you can give it commands without being anywhere near it, as long as you are somewhere with an internet connection.
Secondly, IoT works by creating whole new devices that never existed before and make your life easier. The Amazon Echo, for example, is part smart home hub and part personal assistant. It could not have existed before IoT technology was developed.
In order to create a connected network, all you need to do is make sure that each of your devices is using the same system protocol—popular ones include WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-wave, and ZigBee. A smart device can communicate to any other device that uses the same system protocol. So when all of your smart home or smart wearable gadgets are speaking, say, the Z-wave protocol, they will be able to connect with each other and coordinate with each other without you having to lift a finger.
Internet of things technology has applications in many different areas of your life. It can help you cut down on your energy and resource usage; make your home more secure; and generally improve your life. Let’s take a look at some of the applications below.
A completely integrated IoT system has the potential to completely change the way you live your life. Rather than feeling around the wall in the dark to find the light switch, all you have to do is walk into the room and the motion detectors in there will tell your lights that you have arrived. The lights will then turn on by themselves.
Rather than worrying about the dozens of things you might have left on or forgotten to do before leaving home, you can rest easy knowing that your house has taken care of everything. And if you still want to double check, simply open up the app on your phone and make sure the lights are off, the alarm system is on, the doors or locked, and your appliances are turned off.
If something is on and it shouldn’t be, you can turn it off from your phone. If something is off and it should be on, you can turn it on from your phone. If your kid gets home from school and forgot her keys, you can unlock the door to let her in from your phone.
With a fully automated smart home, all you have to do is tell each device what your preferences are when you set it up and then let it work it’s magic. And with the right devices, you don’t even have to tell it what your preferences are. It will learn your habits and schedule by remembering what you do and what settings you use.
With IoT, your thermostat, alarm system, door locks, lights, and every other connected device you have can work together to do exactly what you want them to do when you want them to do it without you having to lift a finger.
In the previous section, alarm systems were briefly mentioned. IoT security has a lot of potential can already do some amazing things. By coordinating a system of motion detectors, cameras, audio recorders, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and even air quality analyzers, you can create a comprehensive integrated security system for your home.
And the best part is turning it on when you leave can be as easy as locking the door on your way out. And turning it off is just a matter of unlocking the door when you get home. Your door lock could even keep track of exactly who is entering your home and when or let you know if someone was trying to tamper with it in anyway. Then you can already make sure the police are on their way before the burglar has even managed to pick the lock!
If anything suspicious happens while you’re away, you’ll get a notification sent directly to you and with that, you can pull up a live feed which is automatically recording the suspicious activity and storing that video clip to a cloud storage. So if someone breaks into your home, you’ve got video evidence to help the police catch the criminal! And you can notify them instantly using your system.
IoT is not just for the home. There are more and more devices coming out that you actually wear to help make your daily life better. For example, there are a wide variety of smart watches on the market today.
These watches act as fitness trackers, keeping track of vitals like heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and more. They can also track activities like steps, calories burned in your daily activities, and workouts. But they can do more than just fitness related things. There are also smart watches that sync up with your phone so that you have access to your phone’s apps and features right there on your wrist.
In addition to watches, you can also find other kinds of wearables like a sleeping mask that monitors your EEG waves and will play music or sounds to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and then gently wake you up in the morning so that you feel refreshed. There are running shoes that automatically start and stop tracking your runs and even monitor your stride to help you better understand your performance.
There is clothing that can identify exactly which muscle groups you are working at any given moment and then tell you exactly when they have recovered enough to go for another strength training session! There are augmented reality glasses that can let you pull up information about the object or building you are looking at.
The possibilities for IoT wearables are only just now beginning to be realized and these can help you manage your life so much more easily and make your life healthier, happier, and less stressful.
The fact that IoT can improve so many different aspects of our lives is not just good news for you as an individual who can stand to benefit from a more “connected” life. It’s also great news for you as an investor. Absolutely everyone can benefit from IoT which means the market for these kinds of devices has massive potential.
And not only does it have the potential to become so widely popular, it still hasn’t realized that potential yet. Investing in IoT stocks today has the potential to be like being able to invest in Coca Cola before it became the dominant, worldwide success that it is today. You’re getting in early while prices are still low meaning you have the potential to gain big when IoT technology starts to become an essential part of everyone’s daily life.
Of course, there are definitely risks. Not every IoT company that exists today is going to survive the long term so you don’t want to just invest in any stock. You need to look for companies that show signs of potential. And potential should be defined as financial stability and smart innovative product development.
Read this guide for a more detailed breakdown of how to make smart IoT investments. And check out this list of promising IoT companies to start your research into which stocks you might want to invest in. It’s all about balancing the potential risk with the potential reward.
The Internet of Things has the potential to completely streamline your life. It’s more than just having a coffee maker that can be set on a schedule to brew coffee at the same time each morning. It’s being able to have that coffee maker talk to your alarm clock and tell it when to wake you up. It’s letting your smart door lock tell your alarm system to kick on and your thermostat to turn off as soon as you lock the door.
In short, the Internet of Things is what will allow your devices to not only make managing your life easier but to take over those basic tasks for you so that you are free to think about other things. Get a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning because you don’t have to get up to make coffee, turn on lights, or even start the dishwasher. Leave the house relaxed knowing that as soon as you lock that door, everything in your house will know exactly what to do while you are gone.
Focus better on work because you know that if something suspicious happens at your house, your home will notify you immediately via text message. Worry less about blood pressure or whether you’re getting enough quality sleep because you have devices that will tell you exactly how you’re doing. It makes a life free of those tedious little worries possible. So get out there and start living a smarter, automated life!