Internet of Things (IoT): what it is and how it works

By September 13, 2022 Digital Stories

One of the most popular topics when it comes to technological innovation is theInternet of Things or Internet of Things.

The basic concept is that there are smart objects and each of these can become connected and communicating by means of a variety of very advanced technologies.

Such objects are not only smartphones, computers, and tablets, but also those that surround us in our homes, at work, and in our daily lives.

The Internet of Things simply wants to Lead into the digital world the common objects of our experience.

It is thus called so because the Web is the platform that acts as the enabler, enabling the exchange of data between a smart object and a smart management system.

Let's try to understand in detail what the Internet of Things means, how it works, in what fields it is used, and what lies ahead in the future.

Let's learn more about the Internet of Things

The expression Internet of Things (IoT) was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ahston, an engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in correlation with Radio Frequency Identification (RFId) devices.

By this name we mean. Internet connections made by smart objects without the intervention of human operators. Objects can then automatically interface with the network, transmit data and access information essential to their operation.

Simply put, the Internet of Things is that stage of technological development whereby every object in ordinary life can potentially acquire an identity in the digital world.

Web connection enables objects to be intelligent, defining A virtual map of the real world. In fact, so many real components, such as cars and household appliances, can be mapped, creating a kind of virtual place where they coexist and exchange information.

The technologies behind the Internet of Things are different. In the beginning, the following were used to transfer data RFID tags, but in more recent times other more efficient technologies are emerging, such as the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol.

Theoretically, any object can be provided with an electronic device with software that can connect to the Internet, making the areas of IoT use almost endless.

The only things that objects need to be part of the Internet of Things are. the IP address, allowing its unique identification, and the ability to send and receive data independently And without the hand of man. The latter point can be guaranteed by the manufacturer through firmware.

In any case, the meaning of IoT goes beyond the trivial definition and is then translated into the concrete world, with countless examples. Just think of cars at first connected only by GPS-GPRS boxes for insurance purposes, while today they are built already with connectivity.

The same applies to houses and apartments, for which we have witnessed the home automation with wireless solutions, accompanied by cloud services and an increasing use of Artificial Intelligence.

Another very simple example of IoT are the classic street lamps in our cities that adjust brightness according to visibility or traffic lights at intersections that synchronize on green to facilitate the passage of emergency vehicles.

In what areas is the IoT being used?

Potentially, the Internet of Things is A concept that knows no application boundaries: from home appliances that manage each other to reduce energy impact to cars that talk to road infrastructure to avoid accidents and to medical devices that interface with a hospital facility.

However, if it is established that objects become 'smart' by connecting to the network and exchanging information, it is nevertheless true that this development process does not take place with the same timing for all areas. Thus, each economic sector follows its own line of evolution, to which the IoT will have to adapt.

Let's see what they are so far the fields of application That finds the Internet of Things:

  • Smart Car: This is perhaps one of the main uses of IoT. In particular, it is used for the transmission of Real-time information to the consumer, connecting cars with each other and with the infrastructure around them to prevent accidents and road hazards.
  • Smart City: intended use is also the management and control of the elements of a city, such as parking lots, public lighting, and transportation. The purpose is to improve the sustainability and livability of the society in which we live.
  • Smart Home: Another area in which IoT has been active for some time is precisely the automatic or remote management of the home automation systems present in our homes, useful for limiting energy consumption, safety and comfort.
  • Smart agriculture: With IoT, it will be possible to monitor the microclimatic parameters of agriculture to increase product quality, contain resources and impact on the environment.
  • Smart metering: Thanks to IoT, gas, water, and electricity meters are connected to the grid, making it possible to verify correct consumption billing and remote management.

Privacy and moral implications of IoT

While the use of the Internet of Things is already partially revolutionizing our lives, a part of the international scientific world harbors the ethical and moral doubts On its use.

This is because objects connected to the network will be able to send or receive data and make decisions autonomously according to the forfeited information.

This means not only that sensitive data can be acquired by the multinational companies that supply the objects, but that these companies will then be able to influence people's daily lives by means of their devices.

More and more objects will be programmed to make decisions, taking that opportunity away from humans.

If, in the future, the use of objects with decision-making ability uses AI to make decisions for us, this will become an established practice and we probably won't even have the perception of external control.

Alongside the ethical controversies are also doubts and controversies about the respect for privacy. The fear is that as we are surrounded by networked objects on a daily basis, we expose ourselves to the danger of being spied on or leaving a pathway to security systems.

In short, the dispersion of information is a constant risk already today, and according to the most alarmist experts, with the IoT the situation could get worse. In fact, a gang of well-trained hackers, in a reality of interconnected objects, could theoretically cripple city traffic or industrial production.

Many of us are virtually already being monitored through geolocation services that provide our location in real time to a large number of companies. Here, then, IoT presents potentially dangerous implications that have yet to be clarified.

IoT in Italy

After a slight downturn in the first year of the pandemic, from 2021 onward the IoT market in Italy has once again resumed its path with momentum.

The School of Management of the Milan Polytechnic University has released the latest research of theInternet of Things Observatory for 2021-2022, according to which IoT in 2021 marked a +22% over the previous year, an increase of 7.3 billion over pre-Covid levels.

It appears that there are currently at least 110 million connected objects in Italy, about 1.8 per inhabitant. In addition, by the end of 2021 there were 37 million IoT connections via cell phones and 74 million others connected via various communication systems.

Among technologies, a decisive push comes from the LPWA networks which increased from 1 to 2 million in just one year.

Meanwhile, at the legislative level, the Italian government passed in 2021 the National Transition 4.0 Plan, a new industrial development plan funded by the Budget Law 2021. This plan also includes investments in tangible assets 4.0, many of which are included in the IoT.

For example, there is a specific item that talks about software, platforms, systems and applications that can transmit data with each other and with the environment around them. So it is clear that Italy is making a serious commitment to the deployment of IoT technologies to build an increasingly interconnected world in all its components.

What future implications for IoT?

According to analysts around the world, in the coming years the Internet of Things will expand in such a way that it will take over every area of our lives, including leisure and work.

It is no coincidence that there are more and more fields of application for IoT: from industry to agriculture, medicine to home automation, and even finance.

Meanwhile, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are already closely interrelated and will be even more so in the not too distant future.

In fact, innovative systems are being studied that make machines capable of automatically sending exam reports to databases where AI software can extract a diagnosis and suggest a treatment.

AI systems will be able to analyze millions of medical records to interpret differences and similarities between patients with the same disease.

In fact, the entire IoT industry will undergo a major evolution in the coming years, with turnover breaking through $80 billion.

Finally, having to connect billions of devices will require having as many IP addresses available, and to solve this kind of difficulty, at the Ipv4 protocol has already been joined by the new IPv6 protocol.

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