What is the IoT or the Internet of things? Definition and examples

The IoT is the interconnection via the Internet of devices that we use in everyday life. The devices in the IoT send and receive data. It is the network of vehicles, wearable tech, home appliances, medical devices, and computing devices. They are embedded with sensors, actuators, electronics, and connectivity which enables them to send, collect, and exchange data. IoT is advancing rapidly in the world of business, especially manufacturing.

The letters IoT stand for the Internet of Things.

We also refer to the devices in the Internet of Things as ‘smart devices.’ Smart toasters, smart thermometers, smart refrigerators, smart cars, etc., are all online and part of the IoT.

In the world of technology, the word ‘ubiquitous’ often refers to the Internet of Things.

IoT – devices with an Internet connection

The IoT, in its broadest sense, includes everything that has a connection to the Internet. However, people commonly use it when talking about devices that ‘talk‘ to one another

In an article in Forbes Magazine, Jacob Morgan explains that the IoT is:

“The concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.”

“This also applies to components of machines, for example, a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.”

According to Gartner, Inc., there will be more than 26 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. Gartner, whose headquarters are in Stamford, Connecticut, United States, is a global research and advisory firm.

IoT - Internet of Things
According to IoT Agenda: “The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”

IoT – connecting ‘dumb’ devices

In the Internet of Things, ‘dumb‘ devices have a connection to the Internet, thus becoming ‘smart‘ devices.

At the moment, your car does not talk to your house. One day soon, it might tell your house that you are ten minutes away. Your house will subsequently respond by turn on the heating or air conditioning.

Wi-Fi networks have become increasingly common. With software, dumb objects, like vacuum cleaners, fridges, and cars can make use of an Internet connection.

Wi-Fi is a technology that allows computers, smartphones, and other devices to communicate via the Internet with no cables.

This quote, from an article in KidsCodecs.com, shows us what might happen with our groceries in an IoT scenario:

“For example, if you scanned in your groceries as you put them in the refrigerator, and pulled them out for use, each item could tell the refrigerator what it was, its expiration date, and other useful information.”

“The refrigerator could collect and organize this information to send you. You might get emails with recipe ideas, for example, based on what food you have. Or an email with a grocery shopping list.”

IoT – many different applications

Smart home

Your smart home could have everything ready for you at the right time. As in the Goldilocks story, it would make sure that everything was ‘just right.’

Your fridge and pantry would always have the right amount of food, drinks, etc. Your home’s climate control would kick in when people were in and switch off when they left.

It would clean itself, and perhaps call the police if an unauthorized person broke in. It might even have a way of catching burglars – holding them somewhere until police officers arrived.

Elder care and people with disabilities

IoT will one day improve the quality of life of people who are very old or have a physical disability.

People with sight or mobility limitations will be able to talk to their tech. Individuals with impaired hearing might have cochlear implants that are connected to the Internet. The implants will alert them about things that are important.

There will probably be technology that seeks help from the emergency services if somebody falls down or has a seizure.

Transporting people and goods

One day, humans will not be driving cars. There will be driverless vehicles. In other words, the vehicles will drive themselves.

Artificial intelligence will work out how to get from ‘a’ to ‘b,’ avoid other vehicles and prevent traffic congestion. Traffic jams will be something people read about in history books. The number of car crashes and deaths from collisions will be a fraction of what they are today.

Artificial intelligence or AI refers to software technologies that make devices, computers, or robots think like humans. They also make them behave like humans.

Let’s imagine Susan has to visit her mother. She talks to a device, which arranges for a driverless car to pick her up. She tells the car where her mother lives and the driverless car takes her there.

At her mother’s house, they drink tea and eat sandwiches and cakes. The cake arrived this morning. A drone brought it from the local supermarket. The software in the mother’s diary worked out that her daughter was coming. It also knew that Susan loves certain types of cakes.

Susan’s mother’s refrigerator and pantry had ordered some food and drink earlier in the day. She cannot remember when she last ran out of tea, sugar, or bread. It does not happen any more. In her IoT world, she always has everything she needs.


Manufacturers are investing billions of dollars into Industrial IoT or IIoT projects. The IoT can realize the seamless integration of several manufacturing devices. The devices will be able to sense, identify, process, network, and communicate with other devices and humans.

Regarding IoT in manufacturing, Wikipedia says the following:

Based on such a highly integrated smart cyberphysical space, it opens the door to create whole new business and market opportunities for manufacturing.”

“Network control and management of manufacturing equipment, asset and situation management, or manufacturing process control bring the IoT within the realm of industrial applications and smart manufacturing as well.”

“The IoT intelligent systems enable rapid manufacturing of new products, dynamic response to product demands, and real-time optimization of manufacturing production and supply chain networks, by networking machinery, sensors and control systems together.”

IoT will encompass every part of society and the economy, including agriculture, education, health, infrastructure applications, energy management, and environmental monitoring.

Video – Artificial Intelligence