Skip to main content



(Graph showing the sharp increase in Google searches for the phrase 'Internet of things' and related terms. Source: Google Trends)

So, what is IoT to the average person?

The Internet of Things (shortened to IoT) is the rapidly growing constellation of Internet-connected, hardware-driven… things. Ranging from a fitness tracker able to draw inferences about your health to a thermostat with the faculty to learn, it’s the simple endowing of an Internet connection to everyday objects.

What’s the point?

When an otherwise unremarkable household appliance is blessed with an Internet connection, it gains the ability to do a lot of a remarkable things. It becomes smart. Here are a couple basic examples of what that means:

  1. IoT devices can talk to Internet services we use daily, from weather sites to social media (If This Then That is a great application of this).
  2. IoT devices can easily leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence (think self-restocking refrigerator and energy-conserving thermostat).
    And perhaps most importantly:
  3. IoT devices can communicate with one another.

The third point above is why it’s an Internet of Things, and not just a collection of things. The most powerful applications of IoT happen when seamlessly integrated devices automate processes for us, by leveraging each other. A few use cases from my own home:

  1. When the front door opens, a magnetic switch is tripped, breaking a circuit. This signals a Raspberry Pi (a tiny computer designed for IoT projects) to send a notification to my iPhone by Internet request (using a service called Pushover). At the same time, the entry is logged to a spreadsheet in my Dropbox using If This Then That (IFTTT).
  2. I put together a simple DIY security camera, using a USB webcam, two servos, another Raspberry Pi and an Arduino Uno (another tiny computer, aimed more towards controlling servos and communicating with sensors). A web server runs on the Raspberry Pi, allowing me to view the camera’s video stream from anywhere in the world, as well as enabling me to pan vertically and horizontally using the motors.

These are simply conveniences of course, but as IoT develops and the industry matures, we can expect to see a steady increase in the number of even more practical use cases.

Why should I care?


(source: McKinsey & Company)

We are increasingly surrounded by devices connected to the Internet. Each and every one has the capacity to carry out tasks for your convenience on their own, or with help from other devices. The Internet of Things has a singular goal: leveraging the Internet to make everything more efficient, whether in time, money, energy or simply exertion.

Varun Randery has not written a bio yet…