The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Your electronic device is a 鈥榯hing鈥 in the Internet of things. Smart locks, smart thermostats, smart cars 鈥 you鈥檝e probably heard some of these terms lately, and you鈥檙e going to hear them even more as the year goes on. But what are these things exactly 鈥 and what makes them so smart? A smart thermostat which is connected to your Wi-Fi will allow you to change the temperature using your mobile phone. This ingenious device can also learn your behavioral pattern to create a temperature setting schedule. As in, it will automatically decrease the temperature once you鈥檙e done exercising. The potential value is that you can save money on your utility bill by being able to remotely turn off your air conditioner, which you forgot to do before leaving the house. Smart, isn鈥檛 it?

The IoT is wonderfully complicated topic with its application spectrum being infinite. One can envision a scenario where your fitness tracker detects that you鈥檝e fallen asleep and then automatically turns off your TV and lights. Or, before hitting the road, your car could pull up your work calendar and automatically provide the best route to your meeting,聽or send a note to relevant parties if you鈥檙e running late.

(Stymied yet?)

On a broader scale, it is being used by cities to monitor things like the number of available parking spaces, air and water quality, and traffic.

So, how does this work? I鈥檒l try not to get too technical here. First, there鈥檚 the underlying technology, the various wireless radios that allow these devices to connect to the Internet and to each other. These include more familiar standards like Wi-Fi, low-energy Bluetooth, NFC and RFID, and some that you鈥檝e probably haven鈥檛 heard of, like聽ZigBee,聽ZWave聽and聽6LoWPAN聽(looks like your eyes glazed over.)

Then there are the things themselves, whether they鈥檙e motion sensors, door locks or light bulbs. In some cases, there may also be a central hub that allows different devices to connect to one another.

Finally, there are cloud services, which enable the collection and analysis of data so people can see what鈥檚 going on and take action via their mobile apps.

Sam Javed, freshman, is excited about the massive impact IoT is going to have on our lives. He terms IoT as 鈥渢he future of technology鈥.

鈥淐loud storage and Data analytics are sectors that will boom due to the influx of new data that IoT brings with it,鈥 said Javed. 鈥淐onnected devices will slowly translate to connected homes. This is the next big thing guys.鈥

If you鈥檙e starting to dig the sound of IoT, you鈥檇 want a few gadgets around. If you鈥檙e looking to buy now, as with anything, do your research and make sure you鈥檙e getting a solution that is actually going to solve a problem. After all, making sure your kids get home safe from school is one thing, but cooking a pot roast in a Wi-Fi connected Crock-Pot is another.