The Internet of Things (IoT) describes devices that collect, process, exchange and utilize data interrelatedly, via the internet or other communications networks. Some examples of common IoT devices include sensors, smart home devices, payment terminals and smart wearables. IoT devices are used across industries to make processes more efficient and precise—from waste reduction to remote monitoring.
Examples of IoT devices
Most of us interact with IoT devices every day, even if we don’t realize it. Here are some examples of IoT devices used by individuals and businesses:
Sensors are one of the oldest and most common types of IoT devices, used both by individuals and businesses. Some of the most common types include optical sensors for automatic street lights, temperature sensors for thermostats and the internal sensors embedded in industrial machinery.
Many IoT devices specialize in gathering environmental data. Actuators are sensors that specialize in receiving instructions from other IoT devices and are equipped with the mechanics needed to make physical changes based on the data gathered by other IoT devices.
Take a look at AquaPhoenix Scientific for a real-world example of industrial sensors: AquaPhoenix makes water monitoring sensors for chemical plants powered by Telnyx SIM cards.
IoT motion sensors are often included as part of more advanced security systems as well as smart home security cameras and audio recording devices in residential, commercial and industrial spaces. IoT security devices make it easy to monitor your home or business from anywhere in the world, even if your alarm system is disarmed. You can customize alerts, connect your security devices to other smart devices (like lights) and even communicate with the person whose presence triggered the motion sensor.
Smart home devices
According to TechJury, Americans have an average of 22 IoT devices per household. These include devices like speakers as well as intelligent light bulbs, connected smoke detectors and smart door locks.
Intelligent appliances include smart home devices like smart thermostats, intelligent refrigerators and connected televisions that rely on IoT devices to gather environmental information and make the appropriate adjustments.
Smart wearable technology is one of the most recognizable IoT devices. Right now, the most common wearables are fitness trackers, watches and earbuds. However, smart glasses and virtual reality headsets are gaining popularity. Smart wearables even have the potential to increase public health: studies have shown that individuals who wear fitness trackers or smart watches are more likely to exercise regularly
IoT medical devices
IoT medical devices have revolutionized the healthcare industry by enabling better diagnosis, treatment, and more holistic remote medical care. Internet-connected heart monitors, smart blood sugar sensors and even internal sensors that monitor the contents of a patient’s stomach have made it possible for doctors to care for more patients and obtain more accurate medical data. IoT medical devices also make it possible to monitor patients outside a traditional clinical setting, which prevents unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office.
Industrial and logistics IoT devices
IoT technology can optimize supply chain and logistics processes by tracking objects and recording data such as shipment weight, temperature and route conditions. For example, Telnyx helps Abra Controls provide portable wireless solutions for smart surface pressure monitoring at industrial drilling sites.
Companies also use industrial IoT devices for predictive maintenance, quality control, remote production control and asset tracking. A business might use IoT to track the current location of vehicles, monitor and manage delivery routes, track inventory or organize drone-based delivery.
Point of Sale devices
Restaurants, retailers and other merchants use IoT devices for their Point of Sale (PoS) terminals. PoS devices make it possible for merchants to customize and digitize their payment terminals, which in turn allows them to create better customer experiences and obtain real-time data about their sales.
Valor Paytech uses Telnyx SIM cards to power their popular hand-held payment devices that allow customers to pay for their meal while still seated at the table.
Personal transportation devices
IoT powers personal transportation devices like bikeshare bicycles and electric scooters. SIM cards track the device’s location, so the rider is accurately charged for how long they’ve ridden or how far they’ve gone. Then, when they’re done with the trip, they can leave the device for another person to use. Within a few years, you can expect to see self-driving cars added to this list as well.
How does IoT work?
IoT describes a system of devices that are connected to each other and can transmit and receive data from one another. This flexibility is one reason why IoT technology is so useful for businesses and individuals.
An IoT system requires data collection devices, a central processing computer and software that decides what to do with the data. Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards are small physical chips used to identify individual devices that are part of an IoT system and, in some cases, connect them to the network.
How IoT devices are connected
IoT devices connect to a wireless network that’s built to share the information those IoT devices collect. IoT devices often transmit data over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular networks. The type of network IoT devices connect to is determined by how far the device needs to send data, how much data the device must send and how much power the device has available for data transmission.
For instance, Wi-Fi networks work well for home IoT devices, because those devices are often plugged into an A/C power outlet, which provides enough power to run a wifi connection. Conversely, many wearable devices use Bluetooth because it requires minimal power. Wired IoT networks are less common because they are poorly suited to the ways most IoT devices communicate.
Components of IoT devices
The components of IoT devices can be divided into two core categories: data collection components and data transmission components.
Typically, the data collection component is a sensor of some sort. This could be an optical or temperature sensor, an RFID or digital antenna or even an electrical current sensor. Regardless of what the device senses, the sensing component is there to gather information and convert it into numerical data for computer processing.
The data transmission component is usually an antenna. The transmitting antenna relays collected data to the IoT device management platform that handles the data collected by all the IoT devices on the network.
Some IoT devices may also have data storage components, but these are usually very small. IoT devices only store data to manage network traffic, as IoT network data protocols are often designed only for low volumes of data.
Concerns about IoT devices
There are two major concerns regarding IoT devices: IoT device security and network security. An unsecured IoT device can lead to severe data breaches. Securing IoT devices and managing the security for IoT connections is critical.
Often, consumers don’t realize that their IoT devices need to be secured, so they never set a password or configure the device’s IoT security. This creates a rather severe security flaw. That flaw is amplified because a single connected IoT device has connections to many other devices, which means that a single unsecured IoT device could compromise the security of the entire IoT network.
The other major concern with IoT devices is network security; it’s nearly impossible to keep all the IoT devices on a network secure all the time. Instead, it’s best practice to build IoT networks that include IoT device monitoring and safeguards to limit what can be accessed from a breached device.
IoT devices today and in the future
The concept of IoT emerged at the beginning of the 21st century and has grown exponentially. According to Statista, there are currently over 13 billion connected IoT devices (with the most recent 2 billion devices having come online in the past year alone). By 2025, the number of IoT devices in use is expected to reach over 19 billion.
The global IoT device market is currently worth about $1.5 billion, supplying devices for nearly every industry.
IoT trends point to smaller, even more capable IoT technology popularizing in the near future. This means smart wearable devices that are less intrusive (like smart glasses that look and feel like standard glasses) as well as smaller and more nuanced applications (such as surgical technology or technology that enables self-driving cars).
IoT is a growing market, and nearly every industry can benefit from its many varied use cases.
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