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Internet of Things (IoT): What It Is, How It Works and Examples

Updated: May 10, 2023

Internet Of Things

The Internet of Things marks a new era of the Internet. Previously, the internet could only be accessed through massive corporate and university machines, today it can even be used in objects of our day-to-day life.

A watch that tracks your heart rate, a refrigerator that regulates your internal temperature, and a TV that understands what you want to search for are all examples of IoT (Internet of Things) devices. However, technology extends well beyond ordinary conveniences and can produce smart solutions in medicine, city traffic, and a variety of other fields.

So, if you are interested in IT, you should learn more about the Internet of Things and the possibilities that this technology offers. In this article, we'll look at all that and more.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connectivity of items to the Internet, that enables them to gather and transmit data via the interconnection of devices. It is an evolution of M2M (machine-to-machine) communication.

The Internet of Things uses network infrastructure to optimize various activities, ranging from simple day-to-day tasks, such as watching a movie streaming on TV, to more advanced applications, such as remotely monitoring patients with diabetes.

The Internet of Things is a component of Web 4.0, commonly referred to as the Symbiotic Web. To make life more efficient, the web is incorporated into people's daily lives through things in this generation of the world wide web, with no more separation between online and offline.

It is estimated that by 2030, the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things will reach nearly 30 billion. In 2021, that number was at 11.3 billion, according to data from Statista. Therefore, it is a technology that is growing and still has to evolve a lot.

How did the Internet of Things (IoT) come about?

Let's understand now where this concept came from and how technology evolved to reach the Internet of Things scenario we have today. Follow:

Who coined the term and when did it come about?

In 1999, Kevin Ashton, a British researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), used the expression “Internet of Things” for the first time, in a lecture at Procter & Gamble (P&G).

In practice, the technology was not yet common. But the researcher already understood that if computers could know information through data collected without human intervention — as happens in the IoT — it would be possible to optimize various activities.

Ten years later, in 2009, Kevin wrote an article called “The Internet of Things thing” (read it here), in which he reinforces the potential of this technology to revolutionize the world, just as the internet did (or even more).

Check out the evolution of the Internet of Things!

People have long imagined a world in which objects can perform human tasks with just a command. It was like that in the world of the Jetsons, who inhabited the futuristic imagination of many people!

Perhaps we are getting closer to that cartoon scenario… But technology has been evolving for a long time since smartphones and smart TVs were not even mentioned.

Next, we will see some important milestones of the Internet of Things and the main devices that marked its evolution. Follow the timeline now:

  • 1982: Researchers at the University of Carnegie Mellon, in the United States, present what is considered the first IoT device: a soda vending machine, whose content could be remotely monitored by the ARPANET, the forerunner of the current internet.

  • 1990: John Romkey and Simon Hacket present a toaster connected to the Internet, which had a control to turn the equipment on and off. The following year, engineers added a robotic crane that picked up bread and placed it in the toaster, which automated the device from end to end.

  • 1996: Nokia introduces the first cell phone with internet access (Nokia 9000 Communicator), a still archaic version of current smartphones.

  • 1999: The term “Internet of Things” is used for the first time by Kevin Ashton, in a lecture at Procter & Gamble.

  • 2000: LG announces the first smart refrigerator (Digital Internet DIOS), which allowed internet shopping and video calls. However, it was considered useless and too expensive by consumers.

  • 2003: Vitatron, a Dutch medical technology company, creates the first fully digital pacemaker, which records health data and allows physicians to analyze it.

  • 2009: Google begins testing autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars), which do not need human passengers to be controlled.

  • 2013: Google launches its augmented reality glasses, called Google Glass. The project does not take off, but it represents the first steps in AR and VR devices.

  • 2014: Amazon launches the Echo, a voice-enabled audio player, which enters the market to compete with smart home devices.

  • 2018: 5G technology is launched, which allows the expansion of the Internet of Things with faster and more reliable connections.

How does the Internet of Things (IoT) work?

How IOT works

We are already used to using devices connected to the internet. Computers, notebooks and cell phones have been doing this for a long time. The difference now is that the ability to connect to the Internet and communicate with other systems reaches objects that previously did not have this possibility.

You already used television for a long time with the use of antennas or cables, right? However, with the technology of the Internet of Things, smart TVs have emerged, which can connect to the Internet and allow the use of browsers and applications directly on the device.

For this, it is enough that the TV has a wireless network adapter, an IP address (which identifies the device on the network) and that the user has an internet plan, for the TV to connect to the network. In this way, it can receive and send data. This is how any other IoT device works.

What are the main components to implement the IoT?

The implementation of IoT requires investments in technology and infrastructure. Let's see now what are the necessary components to enable the Internet of Things.


Smart sensor technology, increasingly affordable and reliable, allows IoT devices to capture and process data from the environment so that it can be used in automation and decision-making.


Connectivity, through technologies such as Wi-Fi, 5G and Bluetooth, is what guarantees the transmission of data from one device to another. That way, users can read and use that data to fulfil their goals.

Cloud Access

Cloud computing platforms are important for storing data and enabling access to it securely. With them, it is possible to increase the data scale, which is a demand of the IoT.

Machine Learning

The integration between the Internet of Things and machine learning further increases the potential of the technology. Machine learning, which processes large volumes of data, allows connected devices to learn and evolve on their own.

Conversational Artificial Intelligence

Conversational AI is also essential for the IoT. Natural language processing (NLP) is an artificial intelligence technology that allows for smarter interactions between machines and humans, as in voice assistants (Alexa and Siri, for example).

How important is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The power of the Internet of Things is to improve people's lives, with smarter objects in their everyday lives or in business and industrial applications.

Far beyond everyday amenities, such as watching your Netflix series on your smart TV, they can help solve real problems in the contemporary world, such as environmental pollution or individual and collective health issues. The technology's potential is enormous.

In addition, for companies, the Internet of Things is important to implement digital transformation and improve their processes, with the speed and efficiency that today's market competitiveness demands.

What are the advantages of investing in the Internet of Things?

The purpose of the Internet of Things is to bring efficiency to people's lives and to the routine of companies and industries. After all, if the devices are connected to the internet and communicate with each other, several activities can be carried out without human intervention, with more precision and agility and less chance of errors.

In companies, IoT is also a way to generate more productivity by automating team routines. It is possible to streamline tasks, reduce failures and rework, generate more intelligence for decision-making and reduce operating costs.

What are the disadvantages of the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things requires investments. Technology tends to make products more expensive and become inaccessible for many people and companies, in addition to increasing data storage infrastructure costs. Often, the cost-effectiveness of technological improvement does not justify the investment.

The IoT also comes under fire over the amount of toxic waste these connected devices can generate. The so-called e-waste could expand worldwide, as the connectivity of devices tends to make them obsolete more quickly.

In addition to making products more expensive and generating more discards, the Internet of Things can also affect the security and privacy of users, with more points of vulnerability thanks to the Internet connection. It is possible to collect millions of data about user habits and preferences, which puts people in a state of constant vigilance.

What is the relationship between 5G and the Internet of Things?

Imagine when various everyday objects are connected, exchanging data over the internet around the world, while people move around. The mobile network infrastructure needs to have a lot of capacity to handle this volume of data, doesn't it?

That's why 5G and the next generations of mobile networking are so important for the Internet of Things. This technology enables faster, more stable and more secure connections to exchange data between connected devices, which allows you to reduce connection latency and update data in real time.

This is essential for the quality of interaction with objects. Performing a remote surgery, for example, depends on a connection with the quality of 5G. Therefore, this infrastructure allows the creation of increasingly complex solutions with the Internet of Things.

In addition, it becomes possible to spread the use of IoT with 5G, as more and more objects can be connected, with quality and speed for data exchange. However, it is clear that the popularization of IoT also depends on the prices of products and their components, which tend to decrease with the consolidation of this technology.

Understand the relationship between security and the Internet of Things

Information security is already a hot topic in the digital age. It is no coincidence that recent years have given rise to regulatory frameworks on the protection of personal data, such as the GDPR in the European Union and the LGPD in Brazil.

The concern is to protect user data from misuse and malicious attacks, which can put people and institutions at risk.

This discussion started in a scenario where the Internet of Things was still in its infancy. So imagine now and in the next few years when IoT is expanding. The objects collect sensitive data about people's daily lives, the places they go to, their habits and behaviour and, of course, about purchases and payments.

If this data falls into the wrong hands, it can do a lot of harm. It's not just privacy that's at stake, but also people's safety.

Therefore, the Internet of Things must redouble the security measures of its devices, as well as users must be aware of good data protection practices.

5 examples of IoT use in everyday life!

IoT applications range from business and industrial equipment to everyday use. So, let's see now some applications that are already in the routine of many people out there. Check out:

Smart TVs

Smart TVs are perhaps the most common example in people's daily lives. They are connected to the internet and allow you to access video and audio streaming applications and even use web browsers through the device.

Security Cameras

Security cameras are also a good example of the application of the Internet of Things in home automation. Connected to the internet, they can record videos and broadcast them in real-time to other devices, including smartphones.


Smartwatches are considered wearable equipment, which collect and transmit data. You can receive notifications, access incoming messages and even use social networks on that little device on your wrist.


Smart refrigerators are also a reality. They issue shortage alerts, control the internal temperature and allow users to shop, create lists of items, use music applications, and access the web, among other tasks.


Autonomous cars are not yet a reality for most people, but several companies are already developing their technologies. However, most vehicles already have IoT sensors to monitor driving patterns and issue safety and maintenance alerts to drivers.

The Internet of Things is already there. Its applications are already part of people's routine, even if they often don't realize it. In companies and industries, technologies are already bringing benefits of increased productivity, cost reduction and business intelligence.

But IoT can still evolve a lot, especially with the development of 5G. The trend is for more connected devices to appear to optimize people's lives and, as they become more popular, their prices will reduce to become more accessible.

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