What is the internet of things?

A month ago, on vacation with my friends, I received a text message. I was asked to give a presentation on the Internet of Things and I had to deliver a presentation title within half an hour! A friend asked, what the internet of things means? This question seemed to be harder than I thought. My first response was sensors and more sensors. But what is the Internet of Things? How does an Internet of Things solution work and how can it be used?

The Internet of What?

The Internet of Things is a network of connected devices, exchanging data to fulfill a specified goal. For example, smart diapers tell exactly when to change a baby’s diaper. But perhaps the baby is the perfect sensor? When your baby needs a fresh diaper he/she will let you know? Another case is the smart condom, measuring your performance in bed. Once again my partner might be the perfect sensor?

“The Internet of Things is a network of connected devices, exchanging data to fulfill a specified goal.”

The Internet of things can also be used for more relevant cases. An example of a case is a Coca Cola vending machine equipped with various sensors. These sensors inform us of the temperature of the drinks or how many drinks are sold. This information gives you unique business insights to know which machines are more profitable on which location.

How does the Internet of Things work?

At Inuits, we start by looking at the hardware and which data a device collects. With the collected data, we figure out how it can be transported and what analysis is possible with the data. After data analysis, we think about actions and consequences. We examine the most user-friendly way to present the data to the end-user. From this mindset, Inuits created MundoSalsa. An Internet of Things platform making it possible for machines to communicate with each other. The platform tracks anytime, everything, everywhere and, from everybody.

Let me explain it with a specific example. The Local Police of Antwerp use the Combi 3.0, a smart vehicle equipped with numerous sensors. These sensors monitor when the siren is on, how much gasoline is in the tank, who is driving the car, which weapons are onboard. All the data flow to a gateway and from here it goes to a message broker. The message broker checks the data and places it in the right queue.

The business logic happens when the processing picks up the data from the queue and performs specific tasks. In the case of Combi 3.0, the police are interested in connecting data with a location. To link data with a location, the geographical information system (GIS) is consulted. Then a data set comes back to the processing after which it goes to a database and arrives at the interface layer.

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This layer contains various applications to make our life easier. For example, an application to manage devices or customers. Furthermore, the user has different dashboards where their data and statistics are visible.

The Combi 3.0 has a dispatching tool, to send out a specific car to a specific incident based on their locations. The platform is monitored, to know when something goes wrong we know exactly what went wrong and how to fix it.

What applications are possible with the Internet of Things?

Imagine all the public toilets you use are always clean. The solution is smart washrooms. These public toilets collect all sorts of data from the number of people in the toilet to the purification of the toilet. The sensors in the washrooms can even smell the difference between bad odors and the fragrance of cleaning products.

Another application is wildlife, a geofencing proof of concept. The application can monitor the herds of elephants in India. When a herd approach a village, people can be warned and evacuated.

These examples show that the Internet of Things can be applied to useful applications, making your everyday life more efficient and safer. In 2018 there were 23,14 billion connected devices and 742,6 million spent worldwide on third party connectivity. An industry with huge growth and a lot of future challenges to conquer! To properly make use of the Internet of Things data, you have to be able to access, analyze and implement insights data has to offer.

Author: Tom Coopman