Understanding the Internet of Things

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14 July 2015

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Smart cars. Smart refrigerators. Self-adjusting thermostats. Wearable technology. All of these devices are part of the greater Internet of Things (IoT). Put simply, the Internet of Things refers to the connection of objects we use every day to the Internet. The data passed through those devices is used to make them even smarter and more efficient over time. The Internet of Things is poised to change the way we conduct business and live our lives, and it is critical for technical professionals to understand the basics of IoT in today’s job market.

IoT and Interoperability

With so many companies working on so many devices, products, technologies and platforms, interconnectivity has been a challenge. Getting devices to “talk” to each other across all of those platforms and technologies is no simple task.  If you’ve ever sent a video from an iPhone to an Android or vice versa, you know how difficult quality cross-platform connectivity can be.

Currently, there are groups working to create a set of standards that will improve interoperability across IoT products. Leading the charge is AllSeen Alliance whose members include LG, Microsoft, and Panasonic, and the Open Interconnect Consortium made up of companies such as Intel, Samsung, HP, Cisco and GE.  But individual groups have differing opinions, and it may take the adoption of a single governing body to finally put standards into place that will ensure interconnectivity and interoperability for IoT devices.

Privacy on the Internet of Things

As more and more everyday household items begin to collect and share data about users, consumers are asking important questions about privacy; especially among home security cameras and devices.  The Federal Trade Commission has also raised concerns about protecting the vast amounts of consumer data collected among the internet of things, but the FTC lacks the authority to enforce any IoT regulations.

Typically, federal, state and local laws are years behind technology, so it could be quite a while before legal privacy standards are put into place.  Until that time, it will be up to consumers to research privacy before purchasing a device, and companies must go to great lengths to communicate their privacy and protection policies to their customers.

The Tech Specs

Every device is unique, but current IoT devices operate on low power, and are designed to use low bandwidth and they operate on a mesh network. Some devices communicate on the 2.4 GHz band, the same band that WiFi and Bluetooth utilize. Sub-GHz frequencies provide less interference and some devices are designed to take advantage of those ranges.

Businesses and consumers who want to take advantage of IoT devices will require a gateway or a hub between their home network and their devices to keep things running smoothly. It remains to be seen whether a Bluetooth mesh network will take over.

The Future of the Internet of Things

IoT is still in its infancy. We are a long way off from living in a Jetsons-like world, where our devices know what we want before we do. However, change is moving rapidly. Everyone needs to be versed in the basics of IoT, because even though things are changing quickly, there are no signs of going backwards.

As more devices collect and share data, the demand for big data professionals will continue to grow. In order to develop truly “smart” devices, companies must be able to collect, sort, organize, optimize, analyze and protect data at a rapid pace.

If you are a data analyst or scientist looking to break into the Internet of Things, Onboard Recruitment Advisers is here to help.  We work with employers in the public and private sector who need big data professionals to help them stay on the cutting edge of trends like IoT. If you are ready to take the next step in your career, contact us today.

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