The Internet of Things is one of the fastest growing fields in the technology industry today. In fact, in 2016 global spending on IoT surpassed $700 billion.

But if you’re new to the industry, you may be wondering what all the excitement is about. What is the Internet of Things and why is it a big deal?

Well let’s start by talking about the basic definition of the Internet of Things, or IoT.

Exploring the definition of IoT

The Definition of IoT

When talking about the Internet in the traditional sense, we’re referring to a global network of computers. This network connects people together and allows for the passing or sharing of information through the cloud. In a way, the traditional Internet could be referred to as the Internet of people.

With the Internet of Things, we’re referring to a global network of connected devices. So, in addition to computers, smartphones, and tablets, we would also include other devices found in your home such as smart TV’s, refrigerators, security cameras, thermostats, garage doors, etc.

This network of devices connects to the cloud to pass data back and forth. In addition, this network can connect to people as well, enabling the passing of data between people and their devices. We could refer to this network as the internet of things.

The integration of the internet of things and the internet of people, is what makes IoT so powerful, and why we are seeing companies spend billions of dollars to capitalize on these new capabilities.

IoT In Action

Ok – so now that you know the basic definition of IoT, let’s look at a real-life example of a product and how IoT actually works.

You may have heard of the Nest learning thermostat. If not, it’s a smart thermostat that monitors the temperature inside your home and automatically adjusts based on seasonality and your daily routine.

Looking at how IoT works in your home

This thermostat is driven by sensors that monitor the temperature of your home. That data is then sent to the cloud to be analyzed – in this case – to learn your daily temperature schedule. Commands from the cloud are then passed back to the thermostat, which tells it when to adjust the temperature based on what the device has observed.

As you can see, there’s tremendous value in a product like this. With IoT technology, we can now connect devices to the cloud and customize these devices based on the data that’s collected. Products like the Nest thermostat are now becoming smart and connected.

The Growth of IoT

More companies are realizing the value of IoT, both through smart connected products and smart connected operations (think factory production lines in manufacturing).

As a result, the number of connected devices is skyrocketing.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be over 20 billion connected devices – not including smartphones, tablets and computers. While companies like Ericsson have put their estimate at 50 billion connected devices by 2020.

Regardless of what the actual number will be by 2020, there’s no denying that the Internet of Things is already growing at a massive rate.

And as more companies adopt Internet of Things practices and technology, that number will only grow larger.

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