Turning on the washing machine via smartphone while in the train on the way home. Adjusting the heating in the living room to a comfortable temperature so that it’s warm enough when one gets home. Or ordering household items directly from Amazon at the push of a so-called dash button. The Internet of Things (IoT) makes all of this possible.
The term Internet of Things is used for the networking of everyday objects or machines in an industrial environment via the internet.
Household devices or industrial machines thereby receive an identity in the network and are equipped with digital intelligence. This makes it possible for the devices to communicate with the internet and carry out tasks fully automatically. The devices are often referred to as “smart devices”. Along with the possibility for devices to communicate with one another (machine-to-machine communication), many of the networked objects provide an online interface through which devices can be operated and controlled by a user from a random location.
The IoT can be separated into two areas: private applications and industrial applications.
In the industrial area, it’s about connecting machines and systems with one another so that complete processes can be automated. This in turn makes production processes more efficient and cheaper.
As an example, this happens whenever machines independently recognize when a particular raw material used for production needs to be ordered so that production doesn’t have to be halted. The Internet of Things is a fundamental component of the so-called Industry 4.0. With the IoT and Industry 4.0, the self-organization of industrial processes through the direct communication of machines, systems, goods, and people becomes possible. It’s no longer just production steps that can be substantially automated and made more efficient, but entire value chains.
The principle technical basis of the Internet of Things is the internet and microprocessor technology. Thanks to ever-smaller, high-performance microprocessors, objects can be equipped with intelligence with very little effort. In addition, they receive an interface for connection to the internet and a unique internet address. Using this address, devices can then send or receive data and commands. For the identification of goods and commodities and their tracking in logistics, RFID technology (Radio Frequency Identification) plays an essential role. RFID systems are based on a sender, the transponder, and a networked reading device. The transponder is recognized and read wirelessly by the reading device. The collected data is subsequently transmitted via the web for further processing.
Numerous applications for the Internet of Things exist. In private use, the technology is used for smart homes, for example. Typical applications include lighting control, alarm systems, or automatic heating and cooling control.
In a professional environment, the Internet of Things has become firmly established in industry, merchandise management, the automotive industry and healthcare. The intelligent systems monitor transport routes, arrange for just-in-time delivery, allow cars to communicate directly with automotive workshops or monitor medical procedures.