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Internet of Things part 1: the story behind connectivity

6 April 2018

It is the latest trend: connecting objects. Countless organisations are already investing into making their products smart. They use the resulting information to e.g. optimise the efficiency of their processes, save energy or improve usability. But what is the best way to go about this? Which technology should you choose? And how can you use this technology so it gives you the exact information you need? In this series of blog articles, we will offer you valuable information and guidelines related to the Internet of Things. This is part one: the story behind connectivity.

We live in a new age. A time when everything and everyone is connected and smart devices can communicate with us and each other. This is the age of the Internet of Things. Think of a refrigerator that knows when your milk has expired and automatically orders a new bottle, or a water faucet that automatically detects leaks, shuts off the water supply and then contacts the water company. The developments are moving fast. In 2016, 6.4 billion devices all over the world were connected to the internet. That was 30% more than in 2015. According to the research agency Gartner, this number will grow to more than 20 billion by the year 2020.


What is connectivity?
“Connectivity” means that objects are connected. Said object can be a smartphone or a satellite navigation system, but also a razor blade stand or even a cow in a field. In the context of the Internet of Things, “connectivity” means that objects connected to the internet communicate with each other.

How it works
Here is how this communication works. The object contains sensors that measure certain values, e.g. weight, speed, temperature or quantity. A processor then processes this data and sends it via the internet to another device, which then executes or controls certain actions based on the data it receives. 


Example: elevator maintenance
Sensors in an elevator measure how long it takes for the doors to close. If this process is faster or slower than usual, the elevator might not be performing optimally. The elevator sends this information to a special system that determines the right course of action based on the data, e.g. “I will monitor the situation. If it gets worse, I will schedule maintenance for next week. For now, the elevator can continue to the third floor, because there is someone waiting up there.” This method of preventative maintenance reduces the occurrence of malfunctions.

The possibilities of the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things offers limitless possibilities. Think of, for example:

  • Real-time inventory monitoring and automatic reorders;
  • Real-time location tracking for vehicles or objects; 
  • Executing predefined tasks in a predetermined situation: e.g. automatically cutting off the water supply to a field after three days of rain;
  • Machines that learn and adapt based on usage data;
  • Monitoring consumers’ purchasing behaviour and gaining insight into where and how often certain consumers order products;
  • Insight into a product’s costs, energy consumption or lifecycle;
  • Updating software via the internet, so any faults can be resolved in the field.