Most of us are already familiar with the very recent “buzzword” in the industry, i.e. IoT: Internet of Things, and as a beginner we tend to ask questions such as the following, Let’s answer these questions & gain a basic technical overview in this article.
What is IoT?
IoT as the name suggests, is a connection of “things” to the internet.
Already the connection of our mobile phones & laptops to the internet in the previous decade has invited a lot of disruptive technologies to enhance user experience & provide a solution lot many problems. Connecting “things” with Internet can again solve a tremendous amount of problems that we see around.
Now, what are these “things” we are talking about? Well, these can be any normal things, for e.g. Your room’s AC, bathroom’s switchboard, refrigerator, your vehicle’s fuel management system, literally anything! Imagine in this Hot & Humid weather you wish that your AC switches on some time before you reach home , or your fridge keeps a glass of water ready at the temperature your choice, or your geyser turns off automatically if you forget to turn it off and you are able to manage/control each of these things from an app on your mobile phone!
You may design a system that generates a list for your monthly groceries by checking the amount of each item remaining or a system that manages your vehicle from providing next service date to refuelling or even check for other important parameters that people miss out. Just imagine the amount of possibilities with the Internet of Things!
Can I implement entire IoT myself?
With no intentions to demotivate anyone, the answer to this is NO! For being able to implement an entire IoT system, we require many people from a variety of fields, for e.g. we need EC engineers for everything from designing & programming of the hardware (interfacing different sensors to the processing/controlling units, designing relevant PCBs) to networking this hardware amongst themselves to the internet.
These hardware devices are referred to as “Nodes”. Once, the data is on the internet we might require cloud platforms for processing that isn’t available/possible on the nodes, also to manage this huge amount of data coming from each of the nodes we require Data Analysist (Computer Science engineers). Then to build a user app for all platforms (like iOS, Android etc.) we require people from the field of app development. Also, if we need to control heavy industrial machinery or other High Voltage applications, we might require Electrical Engineers and their expertise. The list is endless, and changes are made according to what application we desire to work upon. Yes, we might implement small projects using Arduino and small relays and even apps/cloud platforms available but those shouldn’t be treated as IoT applications.
If you actually have made a good application, just use it practically, for e.g. if you have made an application to switch on a relay wirelessly using your mobile, use it to switch ON a small bulb at your home & if it fails try to optimize until it does so, & if you succeed, well you have successfully implemented a small portion of IoT!
Why is IoT needed except for making people lazy?
Well, The Internet of Things is much more than adding luxuries to people’s lives. IoT can be used in Agricultural Monitoring & control, govt. bodies can implement IoT to monitor the condition of agriculture in the entire country and take necessary steps to increase the agricultural harvest.
Also, IoT can be employed to monitor & control entire Industries (factories), by measuring different parameters that are significant, such as machine parameters, coolant flow rate, cold storage temperatures etc. and make decentralized systems to control & monitor these parameters remotely.
IoT may also be used in avoiding accidents of vehicles, we can have an interconnection of vehicles in a local area (VANETs:
Vehicular ad-hoc Networks) & monitor their parameters (such as speed, whether brakes are applied or not etc.) if a vehicle ahead applies brakes suddenly, we can rapidly stop the vehicles behind it and prevent an accident, or even if the accidents occur, we can use IoT to inform ambulances that are present locally in that area (much like Uber finds rides for you) about such an emergency & provide immediate help to the victims. We’ll be discussing a lot of other applications/problems that invite a solution through IoT at the end of this article.
Pranjal is an Electronics & Communications Engineering Student, completed 3rd Year at Institute of Technology, Nirma University, Ahmedabad .I n the initial years, he was in the Robocon Team of college where he got interested into Robotics , mainly concerning Robotic Drives , Motion & Path planning. Along with that currently his fields of interests are Internet of Things, Embedded Systems & Re-configurable Hardware. He has done few projects as Mini Projects in college & currently working to publish a paper on one of those projects.