IOT explained to a fifth grader

You’ve probably heard the term IOT before. It’s been in the news a lot lately and has become a major buzzword for large tech companies. But what is IOT, and why does this matter?


IOT = Internet Of Things

Okay, let’s break down the term. Internet = the worldwide connected web. For more about networks, see my tutorial here. Things = Everyday objects, appliances, and sensors that have been modified to be connected to the internet.

From Wikipedia:

The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data.

Okay, but what does that actually mean? Well basically, the internet of things is an abstract term that describes the connection between hardware and software. How is it connected? Through the internet.


Okay, if this still seems a bit confusing, here’s an example.


This is your fridge:


It keeps your food cold, stays in your kitchen, and works fine. But what if you wanted to change the temperature of your fridge using your phone? What if you wanted a smart fridge?


Well, you could get an IOT smart fridge, that stays on your network and can send and receive data packets through your router using the internet.

Although this seems pretty useless, it’s a prime example of how connecting everyday appliances will take over the future. This concept of connecting devices and appliances through the internet is what IOT is essentially about. In fact, experts predict that over 50 billion devices will be connected with the IOT by 2020.



IOT can be used with appliances (such as the fridge example), but can also be used with sensors. download-1.jpg

For example, one could place an IOT temperature in their home, and whenever it gets too hot, it could send a notification to the user’s phone through the internet.


Essentially anything can become a part of the Internet of Things. Just embed a chip or sensor in it, and it will be able to communicate through the internet!

The applications of IOT are everywhere, which is why it will (and has already) become such a major part of everyday life. Where are we at right now? According to IOT Analytics, here are the top ten market insights for the IOT:

1.      Smart home

Things like Nest products (ex: controlling home temperature using IOT)

2.      Wearables

Things like Apple watch.

3.      Smart City

For example, IOT traffic congestion solutions

4.      Smart Grids

Connecting your home electricity usage with the IOT.

5.      Industrial internet

Connecting (industrial) machines through the internet to perform and learn from tasks together.

6.      Connected car

Most large car companies are working on this concept or a modification of this concept.

7.      Connected Health (Digital health/Telehealth/Telemedicine)

Using IOT to provide healthcare immediately through technology.

8.      Smart retail

Advertising and commercialization through the IOT.

9.      Smart supply chain

This one is more for corporations. But by connecting their factories with the internet, they can monitor their production better

10.   Smart farming

Imagine how efficient farming would be if farmers could monitor all of their agriculture and livestock through the internet?


That’s all you need to know to understand what it means when someone says “IOT”. I am currently learning about Android Things, a way to incorporate sensors and Android devices with IOT, and will release a tutorial about that soon. Be on the lookout!