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How It Works: Internet of Things

The Internet of Things gives us access to the data from millions of devices. But how does it work, and what can we do with all that data?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects, devices, vehicles, buildings and other items which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

IoT allows us to sense and control objects remotely across existing network infrastructure. This creates opportunities for more-direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems. As a result, it improves efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit.

When IoT is augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of the more general class of cyber-physical systems. This also encompasses technologies such as smart grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation and smart cities. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.

Besides the plethora of new application areas for Internet connected automation to expand into. IoT increases the need to better index, store and process such data. It’s one of the platforms of today’s Smart City and Smart Energy Management Systems.

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There will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will have wirelessly connection to the Internet of Things by 2020.


Many technologists tout the Internet of Things as a step towards a better world. However, scholars and social observers have doubts about the promises of the ubiquitous computing revolution.

Another concept is the Web of Things (WoT). It describes approaches, software architectural styles and programming patterns that allow real-world objects to be part of the WWW.

Similarly to what the Web (Application Layer) is to the Internet (Network Layer), the Web of Things provides an Application Layer that simplifies the creation of Internet of Things applications.

Rather than re-inventing completely new standards, the Web of Things reuses existing and well-known Web standards used in the programmable Web (e.g., REST, HTTP, JSON), semantic Web (e.g., JSON-LD, Microdata, etc.), the real-time Web (e.g., Websockets) and the social Web (e.g., oauth or social networks).