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It's always been difficult to put a finger on exactly what IoT is. Let's start at the beginning...

The internet. A worldwide network joining millions of other networks together. Let's remember that not only computers and smart phones are connected to it. Your shiny new smart TV is connected to the internet via the WiFi network in your home, that's how Breaking Bad got from Netflix' servers, in their network, to your TV screen, in your network. My Nest thermostat is connected to the internet. My brother's smart kettle is connected to the internet. You can get lights, fridges, washing machines, all sorts of smart home products are available.

These 'smart home' type devices are obvious examples of IoT 'things' but a more general definition of a 'thing' is a device which can be installed somewhere, anywhere, on a building, in a wall, on a farm animal, on a car, on a bus, train or plane; in a pipe or drain, or a musical instrument, literally anything ,anywhere. It can send and/or receive data to or from other things or servers depending on requirements.

Then there's industrial IoT and remote monitoring, Maybe we need to monitor a machine, in a factory with various sensors, or hundreds of machines all around the world, collating all the data and using algorithms to make use of that data, perhaps for predicting failure, planning maintenance or defining best practice. 

Then there‚Äôs smart cities. We're very excited about the very real future of smart cities. We're writing a piece about those specific challenges and will publish it soon but in short, there will be cities with sensors monitoring traffic, air pollution, rain, pollen, sunshine, faults in street lights, traffic lights, parking, public transport, even foot traffic and how busy an attraction or service might be; amenities like litter bins and recycling areas can be monitored and their emptying optimised. All this data can be stored, presented in real time or analysed to gain insight on future investment, service requirements, environmental needs, everything. There could be an app for residents and visitors or carefully positioned consoles to allow public use of such data.

There are a number of emerging radio technologies becoming synonymous with IoT because of the need to send and receive data from an increasingly diverse range of locations (see our recent blog post about radio technologies) making the act of sending that data easier, faster and more efficient.

There's a broad definition for IoT. Whether it be smart homes, smart cities, industrial IoT, remote monitoring or some novel approach, If it's connected devices detecting variables and sending, receiving and processing or reacting to that data, that's IoT.

We can create new "things", for new purposes. It's exciting and we love it. Get in touch if you'd like to know more.

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