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What is IoT Anyway?

Posted August 31, 2021 in News

Written by John Shea III, Xpanxion Technical Writer


The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 during his work at Procter and Gamble. Ashton was in supply chain optimization and attracted senior management’s attention to an exciting new technology called RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). Since the internet was the new trend in 1999, it also made sense to call his presentation “Internet of Things”. 

“What the Internet of Things is really about is information technology that can gather its own information. Often what it does with that information is not tell a human being something; it just does something,” –Keven Ashton. 

The proposed Internet-like structure connected everyday physical objects, known as “things” embedded with sensors like RFIDs, software, and other tech used to connect and exchange information (data) with other similar devices and systems over the internet. 

This network of embedded systems (devices) with internet connectivity let them interact with devices, services like machines or appliances and people on a larger scale. 

The devices ranged from ordinary household objects to sophisticated industrial tools. More than 7 billion IoT devices are connected, experts expect this number to grow to 10 billion by 2020 and 22 billion by 2025. 

Companies that would best benefit from IoT devices are those using sensor devices in their business processes. Manufacturers gain a competitive advantage by using production-line monitoring to enable proactive maintenance on equipment when sensors detect an impending failure. 

For example, in transportation, the IoT can help integrate communications, control, and information processing across various transportation systems. Applying the IoT devices extends to all aspects of transportation systems (for example, the vehicle, the infrastructure (like the road), and the driver). 

“The Internet of Things is not a concept; it isa network, the true technology-enabled network of all networks.”—Edewede Oriwoh 

Applications of IoT 

1.Wearable Tech 

You can find these in a variety of devices for medical, wellness, and fitness. Of all the IoT startups, Jawbone, a wearables maker, is second to none in terms of the funding. 

2.Intelligent Homes 

Convenience and home security are taken to the next level. Electricity meters equipped with IoT tell you what’s going on with your water use and your viewing set box for what shows you record remotely. Your house lighting, advanced lock systems and connected surveillance systems are all part of the smart home. As IoT evolves, most of the devices become smarter, enhancing home security. Your fridge will tell your car to tell you on the way home to pick up a dozen eggs and a half gallon of milk. Think of the ultimate smart house as the last remaining character in Ray Bradbury’s classic There Will Come Soft Rains. 

3.Self-driving Cars 

We need to make sure the technology has what it takes for better safety for the passenger and those on the roads. Cars use several sensors and embedded systems connected to the Cloud and the internet to continuously generate data and send it to the Cloud for informed decision-making through Machine Learning. 

A side-note: Self-driving lawn mowers. indego, developed by Bosch, is easy and convenient to operate via a smartphone or tablet app connected to a backend solution. With indego, you can start mowing, pause cutting, send the mower back to its charge station or even disable it completely. The app also displays the area already mowed by indego as well as its current position in the garden area. Crabgrass, Beware! 

4.IoT Retail Shopping 

This is the best use of the technology to bridge the gap between an online store and a retail store. The retail store lets you go cashless—you can deduct money from your wallet. It also adds items to your shopping cart in real time when you pick products from the shelves. 

Put something back and pick up another article, the previous one gets deleted and replaces your cart with the new item. And there is no cashier to bill your products. No standing in line. Just step out after you pick up your products from shelves. If this technology is effective to bring in more shoppers, this will become the norm in the coming years. But still good luck on those mobbed Black Friday sale days. And shoplifters could be “tagged” (and tracked) immediately upon exiting. 

5.Smart City 

It won’t just be internet access for everyone in the city but traffic control, infrastructure management, waste management, water distribution (especially in drought times), electricity management of the grid with regular power generation and adding in solar, wind and tidal energy generation, too. 


Farming benefits the most from the Internet of Things. There are many developments happening with the tools farmers use for agriculture. Tools developed for Drip Irrigation, understanding crop patterns, Water Distribution, drones for Farm Surveillance, self-driven planters and reapers which know where they are through built-in GPS, and also more. These lets farmers have a more productive yield and take care of the concerns better. 


Thanks to the pandemic, telemed visits with your doctor are more in use today. It has not completely flourished yet, but it has great future potential. IoT examples of Telemedicine include digital communication of Medical Imaging, Remote Medical Diagnosis and Evaluations, and more advanced Video Consultations with Specialists. 

8.Intelligent Grid 

The intelligent grid solves a wide range of problems for technology resources. It lets existing and new gridlines reduce electricity waste and also cost. Future intelligent grids improve the efficiency, reliability, and economics of electricity. Maybe even inform of forthcoming power brown-outs and rolling black-outs in weather-related emergencies. 

9.Industrial IoT 

The Industrial IoT is interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices connected with computer industrial applications like manufacturing, energy management, etc. Market researchers like Gartner, Cisco, etc., believe the industrial internet has the highest overall potential. Consider a totally automated factory or lab. 

10.Intelligent Supply Chain Management 

A common example of supply chain management is tracking goods while they are on the road. Coupled with self-driven trucks for the long haul, units can tell the system back home where they are and when they were delivered. 

An outgrowth of the Internet of Things is the Internet of Behavior, how people can use the data from the devices out there and nudge their users one way or another. Click here to find out about the Internet of Behavior (IoB) and both its benefits and dangers. 


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