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IoT: The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, or "IoT," is constantly evolving and taking on new meanings as technology penetrates industries that generally have not relied on IT to grow. At its fundamental definition, IoT can be seen as the convergence of multiple technologies, including wireless communication, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems. IoT is also the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity. These objects collect and exchange data, resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy, and economic benefit, in addition to reduced human intervention.

Wearable devices that have long been used to track human activity are now being used to track cows. IoT for cows, also know as AgriTech, is essentially internet-connected devices that assist in increasing productivity and monitoring the health of dairy cows. Just 20 years ago, dairy cows were ushered into large barns, held secure around the neck, and were manually milked, one by one, by the rancher.

Today, cows proceed into a milking station in an assembly line, where they are milked by robots, and their milk production is monitored and tested to see if any changes need to be made to their diet to ultimately increase their output. What used to take several hours with very little control over output has now transformed into minutes per cow. With internet-connected devices, we can better predict, analyze, and change the outcome for better performance.

Other "things" in IoT can often refer to heart monitoring implants, automobiles with built-in sensors, devices for environmental monitoring, or even real-time field devices that assist public safety officials with search and rescue operations.

So, as we look at the summation of hardware, software, data, and services, no industry is off limits to the pervasiveness of IoT. Leading industry experts predict that there will be over 30 billion objects connected by 2020!