What is IoT? Why Do We Need it? Significance & Impact on Modern Life

October 13, 2016

[This article was published by Velmurugan Manoharan, Sr. Software Engineer at Prodapt, originally on Dataottam.]

All You Need to Know About the Internet of Things!

What is the Internet of things (IoT)? How does it differ from the Internet of Everything (IoE)? What is machine-to-machine (M2M)? These are some of the first questions that every beginner finds themselves asking. For starters, they are the same! Here’s a short summary about the emergence of IoT and its relationship with the above terms..

Machine-to-machine (M2M) is the predecessor of IoT and IoE. Control systems made use of feedback loops to govern the state of a system, depending on the parameters captured during the operation. A simple example could be that of an alarm panel, safe circuitry, etc. They simply meant that any machine connected to a bus would be able to communicate with another machine connected to the same bus.

Later, as the networks became widespread, people communicated over long distances using them. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (popularly known as SCADA) was the then-established M2M application.

The internet shrunk the world by providing efficient interaction among devices located at remote terminals. So, exchange of useful information across the globe (with the help of human intervention) was made possible. Researches wanted to eliminate human intervention or keep it to a minimum, giving birth to an innovative concept of connecting every single device irrespective of its size and volume! This marked the beginning of the next-gen technology, the “internet of things (IoT)”. And Cisco called this the “Internet of Everything (IoE)”. IoT and IoE mean the same thing!

Having said what IoT means, it’s time to justify its need. Take an instance where you need to monitor your home or child when you are away. A simple solution would be to fix an IP camera and monitor its feed using a web or mobile application. You can even hire a babysitter. The former option can give you the complete monitoring data, while the latter cannot. If you fix sensors or devices, which can be reached from anywhere, you have the flexibility to monitor as well as control those devices to the best of their ability; this can make your home or baby 99.99% secure. (Note: Machines cannot be 100% fault-free.)

Take a look at another instance that justifies that IoT is the need of the hour. For instance, when you have separate sensors for gas, door, motion monitoring along with an IP camera, these sensors send useful data based on which corresponding alarms to the local fire station or police station can be triggered. This represents a typical smart home.

Applications of IoT can be scaled across verticals such as healthcare, manufacturing, asset tracking, street lighting, etc. To better understand how IoT can provide better solutions in one’s life, read on.

  •  We can enable IP camera for 24×7 monitoring of homes, but this results in enormous bandwidth consumption. However, when integrated with proper sensors, the video camera can be remotely triggered to record the scene during emergencies.
  •  IoT solutions can replace people working near huge boilers and furnaces. Apart from safety, such solutions can help huge industrial players financially by tracking valuable assets, monitoring the angles of cellular antennas etc.
  •  Entertaining and interactive features can be added to existing advertisement boards, replacing them with dynamically changing display boards.
  •  Management of inventories at factories, hospitals and clinics will be a key advantage of enabling IoT in the respective fields.


IoT is an emerging technology and its benefits do not always outweigh the risks. It comes with high installation, operational and maintenance costs, along with a host of environmental and integration challenges.

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