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Internet of Things (IoT) Explained

Internet of Things. IoT. What does it mean? Why does it matter? What are some examples? How can it help you in business? Let’s take a look.  

Internet of things (IoT) is a network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to collect and exchange data. With most enterprises agreeing that IoT benefits far outweigh the risks, the next few years will see even greater IoT adoption across many different business functions. Statistics suggest that the number of IoT devices worldwide will nearly triple from 8.74 billion in 2020 to over 25.4 billion by 2030.

How Does IoT Work?

Every object you can think of can be connected to the Internet: from cell phones and coffee makers to washing machines and water heaters; light bulbs and windows; cars and bikes. And yes, even cows. The “things” that comprise the internet of things need not look like computers; they can take any form, including a simple button.

Think of the devices we currently connect to the Internet, such as computers and smartphones, as endpoints. The Internet of Things adds a second layer of devices with their own IP addresses and can communicate with other networked devices.

IoT Connectivity and Why It Matters

Connecting IoT devices, including applications, network routers, gateways, and trackers, is referred to as IoT connectivity. The term IoT connectivity is also often used to refer to the IoT network solutions that enable the connectivity of IoT devices. The solutions include cellular, WiFi, broadband cellular, Bluetooth, mesh networks, and LPWAN.

As the popularity of IoT devices rises, so does the necessity for businesses to choose the appropriate connection solution to ensure consistent uptime. A constant, uninterrupted connection is a must-have for any functional IoT-powered solution. When selecting a connectivity solution, the factors to consider include range, power consumption, and bandwidth.  The devices you need to connect will determine which of these factors you should prioritize.

For example, if you’re launching a fleet of IoT-connected vehicles to deliver perishables like milk and frozen pizzas, the first factor to consider is range. You will need a connectivity solution to provide an end-to-end connection between your delivery trucks and your servers. Hence, the data collected by the vehicles’ sensors reach your cloud servers without fail. If you cannot rely on a connectivity solution that can cover the entire route of the delivery vehicles, your connected services will not be as successful.

IoT Connectivity Options

There are many ways to connect “things” to the Internet, from Wi-Fi and bluetooth to cellular data or satellite communications. Each has different ranges and speeds—and some are better suited for certain types of things than others. The challenge is that you can’t just use one technology for everything—it’s going to depend on many factors such as what device you’re connecting to, how far apart they are, what type of objects surround them, and so on. That’s why there is no single IoT connectivity option that works for every scenario.

WiFi

WiFi is a popular short-range method of IoT connectivity in homes and small businesses. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, printers, baby monitors, televisions—WiFi is the go-to connection for most devices in personal settings. There are already many public hotspots worldwide where you can connect to WiFi with your smartphone or laptop. Smart cities have begun to use WiFi technology for traffic lights, stop signs, and street lamps. WiFi’s limited physical range (up to 300 feet from the router) and high software complexity limit coverage, scalability, and power usage.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is another short-range wireless connectivity option commonly found in businesses and homes where devices send data wirelessly in close proximity—also known as Local Area Networking (LAN). Most smartphones, tablets, laptops, printers, and headphones include a bluetooth chip for connecting to speakers, a headset, mouse, and keyboard—as well as exchanging files between two mobile devices. The range varies from 30 feet indoors up to 100 feet outdoors. Since the range of bluetooth is limiting, the devices mainly remain in the same room or building and are not moved frequently.

Broadband cellular

Cellular data is the most popular IoT connectivity option for businesses because of its scalability, reliability, and global reach. By far it offers the most extended range, and as a result, the highest mobility for connected devices. There are two types of cellular IoT connectivity options: embedded modules designed to fit into devices like sensors, trackers, or remote controls where space is at a premium or external dongles that work with laptops, tablets, smartphones. Cellular communications provide reliable connections over long distances, even at low speeds.

Mesh networks

Mesh networks consist of multiple nodes which relay information between each other, so the signal doesn’t have to travel back to a central hub or router on its way to another endpoint. The mesh network topology makes it more secure than traditional Internet communications channels by reducing single points of failure since there are more routes for traffic—if one path is blocked, the information will travel along a different route. Mesh networks are great for remote areas where cellular or broadband communications isn’t available. Still, getting all of the nodes in a mesh network to communicate properly can be challenging.

LPWAN (Low-Power Wide Area Network)

LPWAN is the most recent technology for IoT connectivity. It’s designed to provide low bandwidth but long-range communications that allows devices to connect with tiny amounts of power over large areas. It’s particularly useful for sensors, trackers, and location beacons which need low data rates but have very long battery lives. In addition to consumer products, LPWANs are being used in many scenarios—from livestock monitoring, fleet management in shipping companies, transportation logistics, and environmental controls in agriculture.

IoT-Powered CPaaS Innovation

Real-time communications and superior user experience are driving accelerated adoption of the latest technologies as the business world becomes increasingly digitally customer-centric. Companies are using a programmable API and SDK to incorporate virtual assistants bots into their customer and internal operations communications.

On the other hand, a programmable API is increasingly finding use in places outside of the traditional B2B and B2C networks and typical telecommunications applications. The paradigm shift extends beyond messaging, payments, location services, IVR, and WebRTC into IoT platforms and smart infrastructure applications. Text messaging and voice are the most notable drivers for IoT-powered CPaaS innovation. The newest, industry-altering possibilities in CPaaS are being driven by connected devices, assets, and other IoT smart services. Businesses are adopting CPaaS to grow their operations, leveraging smart connected devices and IoT.

Signalmash CPaaS Solutions

You can seamlessly integrate programmatic voice and messaging into any app or system with our Signalmash platform. This will help your business communicate with its customers more efficiently while increasing response rates on every one of your engagement initiatives.

Signalmash simplifies the interconnectivity of service providers with messaging networks, voice networks, and mobile operators. It’s complicated enough dealing with the technology stack that businesses need to make those communications channels work; we provide a set of tools that your developers can use through an API to reduce that complexity down to simple functions that they can call when building applications for your enterprise. We are like Twilio and Plivo without the fluff. Get in touch with us today and find out how our CPaaS solutions can improve your business communications. And, ask us how you can cut your Twilio or CPaaS bill up to 50%!!

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