March 10, 2024

The Internet of Things: Understanding the Technology that Connects Our World

The Internet of Things: Understanding the Technology that Connects Our World

While you'll find other topics in technology like Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality in most of today's headlines, there are many other tech advancements like in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. In this blog post, we’ll break down the basics of IoT and explain what it is, what technology enables it, and what are its capabilities. We’ll also cover the benefits of IoT, how beginners can consider it in their careers, and where the future of IoT is headed.

What is the Internet of Things?

At its core, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the growing network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items that are embedded with sensors, software, and network connectivity, allowing them to collect and exchange data. These connected devices can be anything from smart home devices like Amazon Echo, to wearable fitness trackers like Fitbit, to industrial machines in factories. The IoT allows for these devices to communicate with each other and with people, creating a seamless and integrated system of technology.

What Technology Enables IoT?

The technology that enables IoT includes a range of sensors, actuators, and communication protocols. Sensors are used to gather data from the environment, such as temperature, light, sound, and motion. Actuators, on the other hand, allow the device to take action, such as turning on a light, starting a motor, or unlocking a door. Communication protocols, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee, are used to transfer data between devices.

What are IoT Devices?

IoT devices can be anything that is connected to the internet and can gather and exchange data. This includes devices such as smart home devices, wearable technology, connected cars, and industrial machines. These devices work together to create a connected network that can automate tasks, make our lives easier, and improve efficiency.

Examples and Use Cases of the Benefits of IoT

The benefits of IoT are numerous and far-reaching. Here are just a few examples:

Smart Homes

With the IoT, you can control lighting, heating, and cooling from your smartphone, tablet or computer, making your home more energy-efficient and convenient.


IoT devices can help monitor the health of patients remotely, reducing the need for hospital visits and making healthcare more efficient.


IoT devices can help farmers monitor soil conditions, temperature, and water levels, allowing them to optimize their crops and improve yields.


IoT technology can improve the efficiency of transportation by tracking vehicles, optimizing routes, and reducing fuel consumption.

Upcoming Seminar

Introduction to Cross-Functional Teams & Collaboration for Tech, Product & Design Beginners

July 23, 2024
6 PM Eastern
Learn More

How Beginners Can Consider IoT in their Careers

For Technical Professionals: Software Engineers, Frontend Developers, Backend Developers

Technical professionals in the IoT realm have a plethora of opportunities to make impactful contributions. Here's how:

  • Software Engineers can dive deep into developing the algorithms and coding the backbone of IoT devices and systems. Their work ensures devices operate efficiently, securely, and seamlessly communicate with each other and the cloud.
  • Frontend Developers play a crucial role in creating the interfaces for IoT applications, ensuring that the user interaction is intuitive and responsive. Their focus is on the software side, particularly the apps and platforms that users interact with to control IoT devices.
  • Backend Developers are the architects of server, database, and application logic. They work on the software that processes, analyzes, and stores data generated by IoT devices, ensuring scalability and reliability of the IoT ecosystem.

For Creative Professionals: UX Designers, Product Designers

Creative professionals in IoT focus on enhancing the user experience and design of both the physical devices and the digital interfaces. Here's how they contribute:

  • UX Designers concentrate on the user experience of the apps that power or help set up the IoT devices. They ensure that users can easily navigate and control their IoT environment, making technology accessible to all.
  • Product Designers focus on the aesthetics, usability, and functionality of the IoT devices themselves. They bridge the gap between the device's technical capabilities and how users interact with it, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

Diverse Ways to Contribute to IoT Work

Professionals can contribute to the IoT landscape through various avenues, each critical to the ecosystem's success:

  • Contributing via the Hardware Side: Engineers and designers can innovate in the development of sensors, actuators, and the physical design of IoT devices. This involves not only electrical engineering but also considerations of form factor, durability, and user interaction.
  • Contributing to the Software Side: This includes developing the operating systems, communication protocols, data processing algorithms, and security measures that enable IoT devices to function effectively and safely.
  • Contributing to the UX Side of Things (Device Experience): Designers play a pivotal role in making sure that the physical interaction with IoT devices is intuitive and satisfying. This involves designing the interface on the devices, ensuring ease of use, and creating a visually appealing design that fits into users' environments and lifestyles.
  • Contributing to the UX Side of the Apps: This focuses on the digital touchpoints that users engage with to control and monitor their IoT devices. UX designers ensure these applications are user-friendly, providing a seamless bridge between the user and the technology.

By delineating these pathways and areas of contribution, it's clear that the IoT ecosystem thrives on the collaboration between technical and creative professionals. Each role, whether focused on the intricacies of software and hardware or the nuances of user experience and design, contributes to the overarching goal of creating a more connected and efficient world.

Where is the Future of IoT Headed?

The future of IoT is extremely exciting, and the possibilities are endless. As more and more devices become connected, the potential for new and innovative applications will continue to grow. Some experts predict that by 2025, there will be over 75 billion connected devices in use. This will bring about a new era of interconnectedness, where devices and systems will work together to create more efficient and sustainable solutions across industries. From smart cities optimizing traffic flow and reducing energy consumption to advanced healthcare systems offering personalized treatment plans through real-time data, the impact of IoT will be profound. Additionally, with the advancement of artificial intelligence and machine learning, IoT devices will become increasingly smarter, capable of predicting maintenance needs, adapting to user preferences, and improving security measures. As technology evolves, the integration of IoT with emerging fields such as quantum computing and blockchain could further enhance data processing and security, opening up even more innovative applications and opportunities for global connectivity and efficiency.

Stay tuned for more technology intros via upcoming blog posts. Sign up to our weekly newsletter, Rita FYI, to stay up to date with the latest from the community!

Written By

Michael A

Tech & Design Leader & Educator, Rita Lab Founder & Instructor

Inclusion Design Lab circle logo with opening in the middleInclusion Design Lab circle logo with opening in the middle