This article is organized in a question-answer fashion where you will learn about the basics of the Internet of Things (IoT).

1. What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT is a network of daily life objects (or devices) that are connected with the Internet. This network can collect data with the help of sensors, process it and make a decision, and then share it with humans. Alternatively, this network of things finds a solution and takes appropriate actions.

Most of our daily tasks can be automated with the help of IoT. Click here to learn more about home automation in detail.

2. What does the term THINGS mean in the Internet of Things?

The terms THINGS just refer to common daily life objects present around us. For example, windows, fans, bulbs, home appliances, or any object which we want to operate automatically.

These objects must have a microprocessor and some memory to process the information and make smart decisions. They should also have some mechanism to communicate with other devices and they must also be connected to the Internet. These objects (or Things) are called smart due to the above mentioned characteristics.

 

3. How it would be possible that the daily life objects get smart?

These objects became smart due to the extra features embedded in them such as the inclusion of a microprocessor, built-in memory, and some programming code. As a result, the capabilities of these daily life objects are enhanced and it can help them in communicating and making decisions on their own.

For example:

A fridge can only be said as a smart fridge if it has given the extra ability to communicate with other devices (or systems); has the power to make decisions, and is connected to the Internet.

4. Do all the devices with the prefix smart (such as smart TV, smartwatch, smart fridge, smart glasses, etc.) fall in the category of THINGS?

Yes, all these devices have been worked on and converted to smart devices by the inclusion of the above-mentioned characteristics. When these smart devices are connected to the Internet, the whole system is called IoT.

5. What are the advantages of IoT?

The biggest advantage of connecting a device with the internet is that it can be controlled remotely. Other advantages of IoT are

  • better utilization of our resources e.g., smart thermostat and smart control of heating and cooling can conserve energy.
  • Continuous monitoring of patients
  • Assisted living for the elderly
  • Process automation

Consequently, IoT can increase efficiency in our life as our daily repetitive tasks can be done automatically and controlled remotely. In short, if data security and privacy are given proper care then we can take several advantages of IoT.

6. What are the major disadvantages of IoT?

Confidentiality

The IoT devices around us are continuously collecting our personal information from our heartbeat rate to our daily diet, from what we are watching to where we are going. This information is collected to provide us with better services.

But if any of these IoT devices containing our confidential data are compromised, it could be dangerous for us. The major disadvantage of IoT systems is that our confidential information can be leaked or hacked.

Let’s see some scenarios of how it can be dangerous.

With the help of data gathered from a connected car, one can find the exact location of a particular car, the daily route the car follows, and even where it is parked at night. This information can be used for a targeted theft or attack. 

Many companies have restricted to wear of Smart Glasses on their premises because through this gadget confidential information can be transferred to the Internet.

Your neighbor can use a drown in his premises to invade your privacy, without your permission and you would have no idea what is happening.

If somebody compromised your smart TV, he not only can see what you are watching but can also use the microphone and camera installed in your smart TV to see in your bedroom.

The smart lock and the app controlling it can be reverse engineered to find out how to open the lock.

The password of your Wi-Fi network can be obtained from any device not caring about it (for instance, your smart cattle). Once a person gets access to your Wi-Fi network can see what you are doing over the internet.

Anyone in the Bluetooth range can listen and talk to your child via their smart toys.   

Data Security

Our information has a threat of getting hacked if the data security is not set up according to standard, (remember these smart devices are connected with the internet). It means high-level data protection is needed otherwise a remote user or a hacker can get access to your confidential information and can affect its integrity.

There are very few IoT vendors which care about security. Keeping this serious problem of security in IoT devices, we should be very careful in purchasing them. A person who manages to find this information on the servers in the cloud can use it in any way, putting you in an unsafe and insecure state.

Control

Although IoT automate our processes, we are losing control of our device. Consider the following cases:

A smart fridge can send data about your eating habits each time you open the fridge. After analyzing this data, the smart fridge can send you a strict diet plan or even refuse to open the fridge next time.   

What if the home security system does not recognize you and does not allow you to enter or leave the smart home?

7. Can the same computer networking protocols be used in IoT?

Normally it would not be the best (or most suited) case to use the traditional networking protocols for IoT devices. Because these smart devices have their constraints such as they have less memory, less communication capability, and also have less wireless transmission capability, etc. as compared to powerful desktop computers and heavyweight servers.

Another important factor that should be kept in mind is that these smart devices are battery-operated. So, the factor of battery consumption needs to be taken care of.

Therefore, many special protocols have been designed for IoT devices and many more are under development or being improved. As the protocols are getting developed over time the risk of security and privacy is getting mitigated.

8. Is any training required to use IoT?

No, proper training is not required to use IoT devices because they are usually user-friendly and plug-n-play.

The software engineering or the code based on which these devices work and the hardware components are hidden from the user. Consequently, these devices are easy to operate for a common layman.

The user just needs to get used to using these IoT devices but no extensive training is required.

9. What are the effects of IoT on our lives?

According to experts, IoT will bring work efficiency in our life because the sensors collect data, do the calculation, and make a decision to allow remote access and control. This will have a positive impact on our lives.

10. What should we need to do?

We are going to interact with several IoT devices in the future. These devices will collect a lot of our personal information to provide us with better services. But if this information is leaked the invader can learn many things about us and our privacy will be compromised. So, it is mandatory to use the best security technologies to protect our privacy.

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