Internet of Things Explained: The Ultimate Overview

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of the internet to everyday objects around your home. It can improve relationships between your home items, making life easier!

Recently, I’ve been exploring the world of IoT by checking out what devices you can add and how it all works. Now, I’m ready to show you my findings in this guide.

Stay tuned to find out everything you need to know about the following talking points:

Keep reading to learn more.

Key Internet of Things Takeaways

In a nutshell, these are the most important things you need to know about IoT.

  • IoT is what controls your ‘Smart Home’
  • You can control multiple smart devices simultaneously
  • Applets from IFTTT let you control your apps in new and imaginative ways
  • In the future, the majority of the homes could be IoT-based
  • You’ll need a speed of roughly to 25 Mbps at home to make it work 

What Does the Internet of Things Actually Do?

The Internet of Things (IoT) controls all your smart home objects. It creates a network in your home between your devices, so that everything syncs up efficiently for the sake of your convenience [1].

Often, IoT will revolve around your phone or perhaps a laptop or tablet through apps like Apple Home and Google Home. Sometimes, a voice assistant like Alexa can be used to create commands for the devices.

Another way to control your IoT devices is through a universal remote. This is a separate piece of hardware that fulfills a similar function to what your smartphone app would be able to do.

We’ll take a look at which of those devices you can add to your IoT network later on. This will give you a few examples as to what you can do with IoT. 

How Internet of Things Has Come to Work

We can thank a select few technologies for the presence and rapid growth of IoT. They include:

  • Faster Wi-Fi connectivity: Faster internet speeds around the home mean that more data can be communicated from one device to another and at a faster speed. That means more capacity for synchronicity between devices.
  • Accurate sensor data: A lot of IoT devices, like smart fridges, doorbells etc. use data gathered by sensors to work. Now that sensors are a lot more accurate, we can use them to fuller capabilities. 
  • Better hardware in general: It’s not just sensors that make IoT tick. Smart lighting, smartphones, smart everything is generally better these days in terms of its speed and functionality. That’s great news for IoT.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Some aspects of IoT homes are controlled by AI. Devices like Alexa use AI and machine learning to work out how to best understand people and carry out the commands they’re looking for. And these days, AI is really smart.

By the way, on the subject of faster Wi-Fi, there is one prerequisite you’ll need for IoT (other than the actual smart home devices themselves): a reasonable internet connection. 

The speed you need depends on what you’re trying to do and how many devices you have, but generally, an average of 25 Mbps is recommended [1].

How to Utilize the Internet of Things in Your Home

Let’s take a look at a few smart home devices and find out how they can make your life easier with IoT:

  • Doorbell: You’ll never need to miss a package again with this function. If you’re out of the house (or if you have a large house and can’t hear the doorbell), your phone or other smart device will alert you. You can even hook it up with a camera to see who’s there.
  • Fridge: Nowadays, it’s even possible for your fridge to let you know when it’s low on stock for certain foodstuffs and remind you to buy more at the store. Yep, that’s right, a fridge with cameras and sensors in it. Wild.
  • Mood lighting and light switches: A lot of brands are developing cool LED strips, light bulbs and other forms of lights that you can control with your app or your voice. You can even put smart switches into your home to control the main lighting.
  • Speakers: One of the more traditional features of an IoT home is music. Tell your speakers to play louder in certain rooms, play different tracks in different areas of the house and more.
  • TV: In a similar way to the speaker situation, you’ll be able to automate your TV with IoT. Have it record certain shows or even turn on and play what you want to watch at a particular time. 
  • Security alarms and smart locks: This is one of the most practical uses of IoT. Security alarms can tell you if there’s an intruder while you’re away from home and smart locks can be programmed to recognize your arrival so you don’t even need to worry about a key.
  • Thermostats, dehumidifiers etc.: Your smart home could monitor the temperature of your home and adjust the air conditioning accordingly. It could even detect the air quality and adjust the humidity etc.
  • Smoke alarm: If you’re away from home and there’s a fire, you’ll know all about it. Some smart smoke alarms will be able to alert you wherever you are.
  • Smart plugs: This simple but cool piece of hardware can turn some non-smart devices into smart ones. Sure, you’ll only be able to automate when they turn on or off, but it’s a great idea.
  • Mobile robot: Okay, so this one is a bit of a curveball. We’ve got to the point in the human race now where we have robot pets. There’s currently a mobile robot you can get for your entertainment, and you can use IoT to tell it to do things.

If That Then This

Another cool piece of software that’s yet to really take off (although it should have done!) is called IFTTT (If That Then This). You can download it on the App Store or the Play Store and it will streamline apps together in ways you wouldn’t think were possible.

Here are a couple of cool uses of IFTTT that I’ve come across [2]:

  • Set your Philips Hue mood lighting to go red when your Domino’s Pizza is in the oven, then another color when it’s out for delivery
  • Share your Instagram photos directly to Twitter
  • Use Alexa to find your phone or other smart device
  • Compile all the songs from your YouTube likes automatically into a Spotify playlist
  • Receive a notification from your weather app when there’s a high pollen count in the area

Internet of Things Outside of Your Home

I’ve talked a lot about how IoT helps inside the home as this is the traditional location for it to all work. But, we’re seeing an increasing use of the technology outside of the home as well.

Here are a few examples of how IoT technology is being used around the world:

  • Smart manufacturing: IoT is being used more and more commonly on the production line nowadays. All sorts of machines can be powered and synchronized around the factory with much greater ease as a result.
  • Driverless cars: AI, along with IoT, is part of the backbone of the whole concept of driverless vehicles. We’re a little way off making these road-legal yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if they became so one day. 
  • Retail stores: Ever been into a shop where no one is serving? It’s a spooky experience that would’ve been unimaginable just a few years back. But now, thanks to IoT syncing up stock level detectors, CCTV, barcode scanners and other tools, it can be done.
  • Farming: Even the more agricultural side of life is getting in on the IoT world. It can be used to keep an eye on farm animals and crops, telling farmers when feeding, harvesting and other activities are required.
  • Traffic management: IoT can work out the best way to get traffic flow quickly through busy areas. It can also be used to help manage public transit systems like buses and trains. 

These are just a few of the many ways that IoT is being used on a commercial scale. Don’t be surprised if we see a lot more uses coming into action in the future. Let’s take a look at some ideas for that now. 

The Future of the Internet of Things?

I’m pretty confident that the popularity and usage of IoT will continue to grow quite substantially in the future. Right now, it’s tough to call what that could look like. But, here are a few ideas people have been throwing around:

  • Combining with virtual reality: When virtual reality becomes a bigger part of day to day life for most people, you can bet IoT will have a lot to do with it. How that will manifest itself is yet to be decided!
  • Smart cities: We’ve seen IoT in houses, factories, road systems… but entire cities? Imagine how much more streamlined things could be if everything was linked up to each other.
  • Robotics: The robot pet we talked about just now is just the tip of the iceberg for how robotics and IoT will coincide with one another. In the future, robots could be there to help us out in a lot more ways. That’s pretty sci-fi right now, but it might get real.

At the time of writing, there are roughly 14 billion Internet of Things devices in the world, and that figure is predicted to more than double by the year 2030 [3]. So, even if you don’t think you’re getting the most out of it now, the chances are that you will in the future.  

Another note is that with 5G technology becoming more available, IoT will be able to respond even faster and be available in more areas. That’s an exciting thought.

Internet of Things FAQ

IoT is still fairly new to a lot of people. Understandably, there are a lot of questions being asked. Here are a few of them and the answers to them.

Does IoT propose any security issues?

To cut a long story short, the answer is yes. The more connected devices you have, the more vulnerable you are to outside threats such as having your data compromised.

It’s always worth opting for a router that features antivirus technology and good encryption. You can check out the ASUS RT-AX55 as our favorite router for security in this guide to the best routers.

How reliable is an IoT network?

IoT can be highly complex, which means it does have the chance of being vulnerable to failure. However, the technology is improving all the time, which means that it’s getting more reliable as time goes by. 

How many smart devices is it worth using IoT with?

Realistically, you can get started on setting up your smart home with just one receiver device and a controller. So if you have a smartphone and an app-controlled mood light, you’ve already technically started building your smart home. 

Our Conclusion on the Internet of Things

If you haven’t tried out the Internet of Things for yourself now, I recommend giving it a go. You don’t have to fully commit to a full smart home, but just automating a few of your devices can be a lot of fun. And, it can make your life a lot easier.

Now that you’ve got a good idea of how the IoT works, how about upgrading your router to make sure you can get everything in your smart home working as smoothly and quickly as possible?

I’ve always found that Mesh systems are best for the Internet of Things, as you can position your satellites near to the smart devices and get better speed throughout your home. You can find out some of the best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh systems here.

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