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Dec 9, 2020 11:18:31 AM

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Posted by Isolde Decker-Lucke

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At Skyhook, we work every day to provide Internet of Things (IoT) devices with accurate and precise location data via our hybrid positioning system. Most people interact with IoT devices many times throughout their day, and yet may not even know what the term ‘Internet of Things’ even means. 

What is IoT?

The Internet of Things refers to the networking capability that allows information to be sent to and received from objects and devices (such as fixtures and kitchen appliances) using the internet. The concept is simple and fairly broad. Basically the internet of things can refer to a device’s ability to connect to the internet.

History of IoT

While there have been different versions of machines communicating with one another since the 1800s, two notable technology advances were the first radio voice transmission that took place on June 3, 1900, and then the development of computers began in the 1950s. 
A lot of progression has happened since that time with the continued growth of the internet and advances in connection. Kevin Ashton, Executive Director of Auto-ID Labs at MIT, is known for coining the term “Internet of Things” in 1999. He was the first to describe Internet of Things, while making a presentation for Procter & Gamble on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and how barcodes could ensure asset tracking and inventory management.

How Does IoT Work?

The process of transmitting information through IoT involves connecting a system or device to the internet. The IoT connected device needs to be able to connect to a network, and send data based on their surrounding environment and use case. When connected devices interact with each other, it is referred to as machine to machine communication, or M2M. A key aspect is that these connected devices are able to transmit data without requiring human interaction.

The Significance of IoT

IoT opens up a world of opportunities for users. With smart devices, users gain actionable insight into the operation of their devices, and can benefit from a connected life. Being connected, allows users to simplify their life. From a business perspective, making a device ‘smart’ allows a bevy of opportunities to learn from data collection, understand how and where a device is used, access real-time information, and improve product performance.

Examples of IoT Devices

More likely than not, you are currently using or have recently used a connected device. Here are some examples of the many times you may be interacting with connected devices in a typical day. 
You wake up in the morning and set your coffee pot (from your app) to make your coffee at 6:30 AM. While you’re sipping coffee, you watch your baby monitor to see when your child wakes up, and check a different app to check that your dog is in your yard - based on his tracking collar.
While at the office, you check your phone to make sure your vacuum robot has tidied up the house. Later you pay for lunch on a standalone point of sale device at a local quick service restaurant. Before leaving the office, you turn on and warm up the car from your smartphone, and since you have to carry in groceries - you remotely unlock your front door. 
During your after-work run, you find yourself checking your wearable device to monitor your heart rate and your pace. When back at home, you watch a movie on a smart TV while checking the location of your dinner delivery using the tracking option in their app
All of these interactions throughout an average day in the modern world depend on a connection to the internet, and the ability to send and receive information through the internet. IoT is everywhere!

IoT and Location

IoT devices depend on precise and accurate location data. Location is an incredibly important part of IoT devices - we've written a blog post on how to add location to an IoT device. Skyhook’s Precision Location hybrid positioning system locates devices using Wi-Fi, GNSS and Cell signals, ensuring that all devices can be located in all environments. The solution provides the ability to locate devices even when offline, in an extremely power efficient manner - offering integration options suitable for the entire spectrum of connected devices. This system enables Skyhook to provide the most accurate and precise location available.
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