Imagine you’re off for the weekend and forgot to water your plants before leaving. Instead of traveling all the way back home, what if you could simply take your smartphone, know the humidity levels of your different plants, and water those in need by just pressing a button?

Well, that’s a precise application for what we call the Internet Of Things (IoT).

What is IoT?

Up until recently, the internet was mainly accessed by computers and mobile phones. But now with IoT, a wide range of appliances can be connected to the Internet and thus controlled remotely. This can be done with your TV, your heating systems at home, your fridge, or in the previous case: your water system. This allows us to have a more precise and deep understanding of the working of things around us.

But to put it simply:

How does it work?

1. Collecting Information

The primary element of IoT is sensors that collect information from their environment. They can for example measure moisture, temperature, light, air quality, distances, location, motion, and many more!

Some Arduino sensors

These output data which can be used to make informed decisions.

On a farm, having details about soil moisture automatically will tell farmers when their crops need to be watered. Instead of watering too much or too little (which can result in poor results), the farmer can ensure that crops receive the exact amount of water they need.

2. Sending Information — Connectivity

The sensors/devices can be connected to the cloud through a variety of methods including cellular, satellite, WiFi, Bluetooth, low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN), or connecting directly to the internet via ethernet.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the application. Nonetheless, these serve a very simple purpose: sending data to the ‘cloud’.

3. Processing the information

Here the information is passed onto the software to treat the information and decide on what to do next.

It could take decisions on its own based on a set of instructions given to it. In our first example, instead, a program could automatically turn on the watering system when the humidity levels are without a specific range.

But sometimes, you might want to get the user to perform an action according to the data received and that when user interface comes in

4. User interface

This may be done by sending a message to the recipient (email, text, notification, etc). For eg, if the temperature in the company’s cold storage is too hot, a text message will be sent.

Also, a user might have an interface that allows them to proactively check in on the system. For example, a user might want to check the video feeds in their house via a phone app or a web browser.

However, it’s not always a one-way street. Depending on the IoT application, the user may also be able to perform an action and affect the system. For example, the user might remotely adjust the temperature in the cold storage via an app on their phone.

Why does it matter?

IoT applications can have several benefits.

1. Cost reduction

When IoT systems are combined with sensors to maintain business equipment operating at full performance, maintenance costs can be reduced.

On-the-spot workplace equipment troubleshooting detects issues until they affect personnel and customers, saving time and money on costly maintenance.

One of the advantages the Internet of Things provides to your processes and maintenance workflow is the reduction of expensive long downtime for repairs.2. Efficiency & productivity

2. Efficiency & productivity

3. Customer experience

All of this new capability provides opportunities to increase the level of dialog and interaction with customers. Consider the utility bill that you receive each month.

Most likely, it provides you with an estimate of what you might expect to pay over the next couple of months. Use that example and work with your marketing and business development partners to translate the IoT data you are capturing and into models that will increase customer dialog, trust and retention.

4. More monitoring layers

With IoT, sensors and smart devices provide the capability to manage a network of physical objects. Consider monitoring across multiple layers of the network and infrastructure used by you and your customers. The data that you collect from an onsite monitor could be enhanced with data about hardware version, firmware version, and location. Go beyond the sensor data and look at how that data is captured and transferred, such as timestamps and error logs to improve network performance.

👨🏼‍💻 Entrepreneur and software engeneer // Former employee at // 👨🏼‍🎓 Holberton School & Reverse Origins