Definition: What Is The Internet of Things?

The digital age is full of various buzzwords people like to throw around with little thought about whether or not anyone actually knows what they’re talking about (in fact, that seems  to be part of the charm). A good example of this is “the Internet of Things.” People say it all the time, but few people seem able to define what it means. Let’s take a look now.

The Simplest Definition

We’ll begin with the simplest definition and build from there. The Internet of Things generally refers to an environment that collects information from a number of different devices like computers, smartphones, vehicles even traffic lights. Basically, anything with a sensor on it can contribute information to the Internet of things. But even social media and ecommerce platforms can be used for this purpose.

The Internet label here basically represents the fact that you need a means to access these devices. But the truth is that you don’t actually need the Internet, per se.

With all the information you wanted gathered, you now need something to make sense of it for your specific purpose. This means some kind of software, though there are countless examples out there. Some are automated, others are manual, the list goes on. Of course, there are hybrid versions too.

Taking It to Another Level

Now this is interesting concept all on its own. Where it gets really interesting though is when you start thinking about all the different ways you can combine the information you have harvested from countless devices.

What we once referred to as “big data” used to be a concept that could only be employed by huge organizations with massive amounts of servers capable of the information gathering process and then a staff and expensive technology to make sense of it all.

Today, though, with this kind of software, much smaller operations can employ this incredibly process. Individuals are even getting in on the action.

The Three Pieces of the Internet of Things

internet of thingsFor the most part, you need three separate components for the Internet of Things. First, you need some kind of network connectivity. Again, this is the “Internet” portion and is generally wireless.

Next, you need some kind of software or application that can capture data. This could be a sensor of sorts, but it might also be some kind of user input application or something similar. Again, we’re finding that the future is producing more and more options where this is concerned.

Finally, you need that analytical component. Something on the back end has to organize, process and provide results for this data. We’re talking about way too much to realistically expect that a human could do this on their own.

While the analogy may not be a perfect one, the Internet of Things is meant to serve as a way for thinking about how objects in our everyday lives can actually communicate with us. We can “click” on them like links and receive all kinds of helpful information, just like we do with the Internet.