A Simple Explanation of IoT
20 Jun 2022 3 mins read By Andrea Amato

Technology is a broad term heavily pronounced in the media, but what does it mean in practice? 


Internet of things (or IoT) refers to the connectivity between devices through a common internet source. These devices, including laptops and smart kitchen appliances, gather data in developing a strong network of connections. The applicability of IoT is vast, technological research applies IoT to self-driving cars and high-tech fitness watches. 


How does IoT work? 


Devices include sensors that gather and shares data on a common IoT platform. Through this platform, information between devices integrate to produce analytics that addresses individual needs. This information is used to analyse what data is important to include and what can be ignored. The aim of collecting data is to provide useful recommendations to the user and potentially predict certain outcomes.  

The insights generated from IoT are useful to individuals in making quicker and more efficient decisions. For example, a smart alarm clock can not only wake you up at a designated time but can also calculate traffic between home and work, as it syncs with your mobile device. In this way, you are able to calculate beforehand the amount of time you need to get to your on-site or remote job.


The importance of IoT today 


Software developers and engineers alike are creating more and more sophisticated devices with in-built sensors that integrates with IoT. From simple household appliances to greater industrial works, more than 7 billion devices are known to be IoT today, and this is only projected to increase in the coming years. By 2025, this amount is predicted to grow to 22 billion. As the world becomes more digitised, IoT remains a top priority in the technology sphere. 

In the past, devices were not supportive of sensors where large chips could not provide the seamless integration of connectivity we see today. Sensors were not always easy to manufacture and were often expensive to produce. These were originally created to support industrial technologies, but this quickly took a turn to apply to everyday objects and tools. 

Over the past couple of years, IoT has grown exponentially, leaving it one of the most important technologies to consider. We are able to see this seamless interaction at work—between human beings and devices. This connectivity spans across different technologies too, such as artificial intelligence and big data, leaving a strong collaboration in the digital sphere.  


What industries can benefit from IoT? 


Smart devices are not limited to home appliances or self-driving cars. Other industries such as healthcare and the public sector can reap the rewards from smarter tools. IoT can support governmental organisations in providing nationwide alerts, such as upcoming poor weather or power outages. Healthcare institutions make use of advanced medical technologies and supplies, from physical tools to life-saving machines. Such institutions and similar jobs in Malta or elsewhere can apply IoT to locate and monitor these devices to ensure they can be recovered whenever needed.  

From this article, it is apparent that the applicability and diversity of IoT makes it a versatile technology made to support a wide range of uses. The demand for software developers in this space is increasing, from the need to develop better cloud services and other security measures. On the whole, the intention of IoT is clear—the information gathered from connected devices can be used to make smarter and easier decisions with minimal human intervention.  


What are the risks of IoT? 


One of the largest concerns surrounding IoT is safety. As one of the core foundations of devices is to collect and store data, there have been instances where private and confidential conversations have been recorded and misused. The privacy of consumers is vital for these devices to ascertain trust, but so far household devices have a poor track record. Software developers have a clear role in developing these devices to better support encryption technologies to avoid sensitive data leaks. 

As IoT devices become more accessible to the public, individuals need to understand what they are forfeiting in terms of data privacy. This extends further than the home—businesses and other institutions should consider what IoT devices they own and discuss whether they are comfortable in having confidential communications around them. Although a lot more can be said regarding IoT and security, common concerns widely surround the issues of privacy breaches. 


What’s next for IoT? 


The future of IoT follows similar trending technologies. Devices and sensors will be developed with the latest technology, and these will become more populated in people’s homes and a multitude of environments. Some individuals will enjoy the use of smart devices, where others do not believe they are worth the privacy trade-offs. However, persistent pressure into fixing and maintaining privacy through these devices can lead IoT into a safer and more secure future. 

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