Technology

How Does an IoT System Work?

The internet has revolutionized the world we live in and has undergone immense growth since its introduction. Further disruptive change in the world was brought about when the mobile internet came into existence. Since then, people have started to perform countless tasks using the internet – ordering food, sending money, booking a cab, planning a journey, listening to music, watching videos, going through news, and a lot more. There would hardly be any person left who isn’t aware of the internet these days. But what about the Internet of Things (IoT)? Is everyone familiar with this term? Probably not.

To begin with, the Internet of Things or IoT refers to an object that can be controlled or sensed remotely through the existing network infrastructure and it enables direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems. Before you start getting confused, here are some of the IoT devices you must already be familiar with – Amazon Alexa (voice assistants), smartwatches for fitness bands, Spotify box, smart TVs, and smart air conditioners. For example, when you give any instruction to Alexa (speaking in a physical world), the device (computer-based system) performs an action and responds back in human language (integration of both). Here, all these devices are connected to the internet to perform such tasks. In other words, IoT devices can sense a physical attribute and perform a task automatically without any human intervention.

Today, IoT has become one of the top technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Many professionals are interested in starting a career in this domain. In fact, they are enrolling in a free IoT basics course to get a hang of the technology and decide whether their skills align with the field or not. Curious to know more about IoT? Well, it is quite an interesting topic for techies. Read on to find out what IoT is all about and how an IoT system works.

Working of an IoT System

Simply put, the Internet of Things is an effort of taking all the physical things and connecting them to the internet. By connecting anything with the internet, a device is able to send or receive information, and this ability is what makes a thing ‘smart.’ This is the reason we are familiar with the terms smartphones, smartwatches, smart TVs, smart meters, and so on.

The things connected to the internet can either collect information and send it, receive information and act on it or do both. The first category includes sensors like temperature sensors, air quality sensors, motion sensors, light sensors, to name a few. They collect information from the physical world and send it to make informed decisions.

The second category includes all kinds of machines that act on a given command, like a car door opening on receiving signal from the key, a TV turning on through a remote, and so on. The real power of IoT begins with the third category, i.e., a device that can collect information, send or receive it, and then act upon it. For example, if you give an instruction to Alexa to dim the lights, it collects the input, processes it, and performs the required action.

Keeping the above example in mind, you should know that a complete IoT system includes four distinct components – sensors, connectivity, data processing, and a user interface. Here is how each component is used:

Sensors – as discussed above, they measure a physical attribute, either a voice command, light, temperature, motion, etc. in other words, they collect information from the environment.

IoT gateway – The IoT gateway or connectivity refers to sending data to the cloud (i.e. connecting the data to the internet). Some of the ways to do so are cellular networks, satellite, Ethernet, WiFi, or Bluetooth.

Data processing – Once the data is sent to the cloud, some software processes it according to what task we want the IoT device to perform. It helps in deciding what action to take based on the outcome drawn by processing the data.

User Interface – Finally, we come to the action part. The device acts on the decision taken in the previous step and alerts the user as desired. It can be in the form of an email, alert sound, notification, switching on/off something, or a voice output as in the case of voice assistants. A smart AC, for example, can take room temperature as input, process whether it is normal or too cold, and adjusts its setting and fan speed automatically to maintain the room temperature.

IoT can also leverage other technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to get help in making data collecting processes easier and more dynamic. You may not know but voice assistants like Alexa use Natural Language Processing (NLP), an important subset of artificial intelligence, to make sense of the natural human voice.

Apart from offering smart devices to end-users, IoT is quite beneficial for businesses. It can give companies a real-time look into how their systems are working, deliver insights into things like the performance of machines, supply chain and logistic operations, automate processes, monitoring customer transactions, and more.

Want to start a career in IoT? Enroll in an IoT online course today and learn its basics.

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