You Ask We Answer 9. How does IoT work?

Internet-of-Things devices are small electronic systems that act automatically for the benefit of the user. To achieve their goal, they rely on distinct components, each responsible for specific parts of the job: from collecting ground data to interpreting it for making the right call.

The process of automating an action starts with sensors – the foot soldiers in the IoT ecosystem, tasked with reading the physical world around them. Their impulse triggers a chain reaction that often involves multiple gadgets. Sensors are also the ones to put a stop to the action that influences the surrounding environment.

Motion detection sensors make a surveillance system start recording and send out alerts; smart thermostats use sensors to measure temperature and decide whether to heat or cool it; lightbulbs react to light intensity based on measurements from photodetectors.

To act intelligently in your interest, data from the sensors needs to be processed. This may happen locally – as with assisted-driving technology in the automobile industry – or on an external, more powerful system in the cloud. In the aggregate, information can create a broader context for more efficient management of resources or for usage reports.

Since IoT’s main attribute is connectivity, this is how these devices communicate data to their users, processing systems, or peer devices if they are in a network. Although internet access is not a must, it is necessary for remote control or for processing more complex sets of data.

A way to receive messages, interact and manage the connected system is the fourth major component of an IoT device. Because not all gadgets come with a display screen, you typically use a companion to check the current status, access the configuration menu, and make temporary adjustments.

This is a simplified overview of how IoT works. While this type of system may appear uncomplicated at first glance, some are backed by an intricate network of nodes ready to receive, interpret, and give a meaning to information from ground level.

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