The IoT has become an integral part of everyday life, but let's try to understand why we talk about the 'Internet of Things': what is the role of these 'objects' really? And how do they work?
IoT is based on the constant interconnection of a multitude of devices, sensors and things, which, thanks to the potential of Cloud Computing, are able to talk to each other, exchange data in real time, and give input to certain actions, or series of actions (automations).
However, we should not think of IoT as a single network of things connected to each other, but rather as devices that over time develop their own 'intelligence' and learn to provide an increasingly personalised, effective and useful service.
The real added value of this vast sector is the potential for constant development and growth, which offers the opportunity to develop new applications and devices. In essence, the IoT is an extremely dynamic and multifunctional reality that shows no sign of stopping.
But what is the principle behind how the IoT works? Firstly, in order to function and be defined as 'intelligent', the objects that are part of the network must meet two fundamental requirements:
Once these two essential requirements are met, the smart object can provide us with real-time information about itself, such as its operating status, location and traceability; or it can provide us with important measurements of specific parameters (temperature, humidity, precision, pollution, electricity, water and gas flows).
And it is thanks to these capabilities that networked objects can perform specific actions quite 'voluntarily': a sensor detects a water leak? The smart device interrupts the water supply and sends an alert to the associated user to warn him of the 'danger'.
If IoT works, it is mainly because of the advanced cloud computing capabilities that underpin it. All the data collected by the various smart objects is then sent, aggregated, processed and stored in the cloud. In a way, the cloud becomes the nerve centre of the entire smart system, the point where the stimuli collected by the devices are received, processed and stored, and then produce an input in response to the stimulus itself.
For this to happen, however, objects need to be present in the cloud, which means associating each individual object with a specific service. This is usually done by automatically detecting objects connected to the same network, or by scanning a Qr code or barcode, or by manually entering device data. At the end of this procedure, the smart object is registered on the cloud and from that moment will always be reachable.
In this way, we can also consult the status of a device remotely; just think of a smart heating system with an interconnected thermostat and thermostatic valves: thanks to the appropriate App, it is possible to turn the system on and off, check the set and actual temperature, and plan the duration of the system's operation. Furthermore, this system, combined with other smart objects, is able to activate other functions when certain specific conditions occur: the temperature drops below a certain parameter? Activate the heating! Do the sensors detect the opening of windows? I switch off the heating to reduce consumption!
The functions/microservices in the Cloud that can be enabled by IoT are truly infinite! It is enough to think of video surveillance services, even at home; it is possible to set up the saving of video footage in the cloud, with the guarantee that even in the event of damage or tampering with the camera, the data are still saved and can be viewed.
And if the smart device (camera in our example) detects a suspicious movement, it immediately records a short film that it saves in the cloud, and immediately sends a notification to the owner of the property who can immediately view the video material. Still in the security field, cameras can be associated with sensors that detect the opening of doors and windows, sensors that detect gas leaks, water leaks or power surges.
In terms of energy consumption and environmental protection, smart objects can help users and utility companies to monitor consumption with the aim of making it more efficient. The functionalities of the Internet of Things are endless, and find application in many areas, from healthcare to agriculture and industry, to smart cities and home automation.