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What is IoT or the Internet of Things? Why is the Internet of Things (IoT) important?

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Internet of things

The Internet of things (IoT) describes physical objects or groups of such objects with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks. Internet of things has been considered a misnomer because devices do not need to be connected to the public internet, they only need to be connected to a network and be individually addressable.

Why is the Internet of Things (IoT) important?

Over the past few years, IoT has become one of the most important technologies of the 21st century. The field has evolved due to the convergence of multiple technologies, including ubiquitous computing, commodity sensors, increasingly powerful embedded systems, and machine learning making seamless communication possible between people, processes, and things. Now that we can connect everyday objects like kitchen appliances, cars, thermostats, baby monitors, automation including home and building automation, independently and collectively enable the Internet of things.

By means of low-cost computing, the cloud, big data, analytics, and mobile technologies, physical things can share and collect data with minimum human intervention. In this hyperconnected world, digital systems can record, monitor, and adjust each interaction between connected things. The physical world meets the digital world and they cooperate.

What technologies have made IoT possible?

While the idea of IoT has been in existence for a long time, a collection of recent advances in a number of different technologies has made it practical.


Access to low-cost, low-power sensor technology: Affordable and reliable sensors are making IoT technology possible for more manufacturers.

Connectivity: A host of network protocols for the internet has made it easy to connect sensors to the cloud and to other “things” for efficient data transfer.

Cloud computing platforms: The increase in the availability of cloud platforms enables both businesses and consumers to access the infrastructure they need to scale up without actually having to manage it all.

Machine learning and analytics: With advances in machine learning and analytics, along with access to varied and vast amounts of data stored in the cloud, businesses can gather insights faster and more easily. The emergence of these allied technologies continues to push the boundaries of IoT and the data produced by IoT also feeds these technologies.

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI): Advances in neural networks have brought natural-language processing (NLP) to IoT devices such as digital personal assistants Alexa, Cortana, Siri etc., and made them appealing, affordable, and viable for home use.

There are a number of concerns about the risks in the growth of IoT technologies and products, especially in the areas of privacy and security, and consequently, industry and governmental moves to address these concerns have begun, including the development of international and local standards, guidelines, and regulatory frameworks.


Alice Collins


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