You Ask We Answer 1. What Is IoT? A Simple Question with a Complex Answer

The IoT has been on the lips of every tech pundit for years, with many of them overhyping the benefits. But definitions of the term “IoT” differ depending on who you ask. The most popular, and shortest reply is that it stands for the Internet of Things, a network of physical objects hooked to the web.

Initially, numerous experts believed the concept was impossible. However, companies such as Procter & Gamble, Gillette, WalMart, Tesco, Canon and Coca-Cola, and US government organizations (Department of Defense, the Postal Service) recognized the advantages IoT could bring to their supply chains and helped boost development of the technology.

Who invented the term ‘IoT’

Coined by technology pioneer Kevin Ashton in 1999, the phrase “Internet of Things” originally described the use of the internet to allow computers to observe the world. This mesh of connected things was intended to gather information from the physical world that would help find a solution to a reported problem.

As Ashton himself put it in an interview last year, IoT is a solution to “knowing everything you need to know about the physical world. That could be where things are, or where customers are, or whether things need maintenance, or something else.”

A more flexible definition of IoT, the one that generated the buzzword, includes any gadget that can connect to the internet — so-called “smart” devices. Usually, these are regular “dumb” things improved with chips that allow users to control or interact with them over a network. The list includes just about any connected object typically regarded as smart.

No matter their form, IoT devices are a common part of our lives and there is little to no chance they’ll fall out of grace any time soon.

Image credit: methodshop

One comment

  • By Karl Smithe - Reply

    Networked von Neumann devices! Mainframes in the ’50s were von Neumann devices. IBM hired John von Neumann as a consultant in 1951. They didn’t have silicon transistors at the time. Transistors have gotten smaller faster and cheaper since then.

    So now we can put the processing power of a 1970 mainframe into a toaster for $5 and communicate with the coffee pot in the same kitchen via wi-fi and all of the coffee pots in all of the other kitchens on the planet.

    We are just waiting for the robots that can be hacked to put poison in the coffee.

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