Internet of Things

The terms "connected object" and "Internet of Things", which emerged in the 2000s, are now widely used. But what exactly do they cover, what does "smart object" mean and what are the actual everyday applications of these "connected" objects?

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the expansion of the virtual aspect of the internet into everyday physical objects. The objects in question are therefore connected to the internet and act as a bridge between the real and the virtual.
  • Information sharing and control
The main benefit of connected objects is their ability to communicate with a computer or, through an app, with a tablet or smartphone. This enables them to send and process all kinds of data. The connectivity also means they can be controlled from a mobile device. A connected object can therefore be remotely programmed, queried, started or switched off.

Data is exchanged wirelessly, via Bluetooth (ultra high-frequency radio waves at short distance), over a wireless Wi-Fi connection or through a home automation unit connected to the internet that controls a network of connected objects in a home.
  • How the Internet of Things works
The Internet of Things is a collection of high-tech products that combine several functions. They are capable of collecting data through sensors, storing this data, transferring it via their connectivity capability and processing it thanks to a microcontroller. All of these battery-powered items are wireless and miniaturised to ensure they don't take up much space.
  • Capability
Unlike recent connected devices (e.g. printers), today's connected objects aren't just peripheral devices. They're transmitters, sensors, information receivers and can process data and interact with the internet and other connected objects. They also have a certain autonomy that enables them to take action based on the data collected and learn from their environment. That's why they're referred to as smart devices.

What are the areas of application?

The Internet of Things is very useful day to day for simplifying users' lives, automating tasks or saving time. Aside from these practical everyday applications, they are also present in numerous fields and their use is expected to further expand, whether for practical, business or entertainment purposes.
  • Physical exercise
There are numerous applications for the Internet of Things in physical exercise. Whether it's to monitor your performances, improve your physical condition or simply geolocate your position during outdoor activities (walking, hiking, running, etc.), all kinds of dedicated accessories are available.

A smart watch or smart bracelet lets you count how many miles you've covered, locate your position via GPS and view your history, as well as find out your heart rate while you were exercising. For thousands of users worldwide, these accessories, notably watches, have become inextricably linked with any sporting activity.
  • Health and well-being
The potential of the Internet of Things is also huge in the field of health. Although some applications might seem like a bit of a gadget, others can be a major help to users in maintaining or improving their health and can even save their life. Practical accessories include a smart toothbrush, which acts as a perfect brushing coach for kids: using sensors, it checks the amount of time spent brushing and the areas brushed, and tells the user when the brush needs changing.

There are also smart accessories for maintaining a healthy weight: smart scales that calculate body fat and BMI, smart watches that track calorie intake, etc. The Internet of Things is also extremely beneficial for elderly users or those with a chronic illness, for example in managing medication intake and tracking changes in heart rate or blood pressure.
  • Security
Another popular application of the Internet of Things is in security, with many smart devices becoming available on the market for security systems, surveillance cameras and alarms in recent years. These allow you to keep tabs on the surroundings or interior of your home in real time on your smartphone, be alerted in the event of an intrusion or automatically notify the police.

Another area of progress in home security is the development of smart smoke alarms and fire detectors. These notify users if a fire starts and allow them to react quickly to protect the possessions and people in their home.
  • Smart home experience
A smart home is when the Internet of Things is used to optimise the management of essential functions: controlling the heating using smart thermostats or thermostatic valves, controlling air conditioning and lighting, remotely controlling or automating electrical devices and household appliances (smart fridge, robot vacuum cleaner, etc.). As well as saving time, these smart accessories also enable improved energy consumption in the home.

The wide variety of applications covers numerous aspects of everyday life. From managing the watering of plants to checking air quality and local weather forecasts provided by a smart weather station, the number of accessories for optimising our time and improving our quality of life is on the rise. Smart baby monitors and smart patches with temperature sensors allow you to check on your baby without waking it up and you can even talk to your pet remotely on your smartphone when you're not at home!
  • Leisure
Leisure has also seen an influx of these new technologies: multimedia products (TV, audio system, etc.) are now managed via Bluetooth speakers or multi-room systems. They can even be voice-controlled using virtual assistants. In entertainment products, games and toys are now smart, virtual reality products are gradually sweeping onto the market and robots, drones and similar products are quickly becoming popularised.
  • Mobility
The market for the Internet of Things goes even further. In addition to everyday objects, new technologies connected to the internet are now being applied in the transport sector, meaning that cars, motorbikes and even scooters can be smart for an even safer and more pleasant driving experience. With a smart dashboard, driving assistance during manoeuvres, tips on cutting CO2 consumption and automatic alerts to the emergency services in case of an accident to ensure greater safety, we're gradually moving towards increasingly autonomous vehicles. Discover all our products

The Internet of Things and data

Even the way that the Internet of Things works involves the continuous collection of user data. This is used to provide a history, produce statistics and make more intuitive use of products possible. Objects connected to the internet collect a variety of information that is transmitted via the internet and stored in data centres, which raises a number of issues.

How can we ensure the security of this data circulating on the internet and what can we do to make sure this extremely valuable Big Data isn't misused by unscrupulous companies, organisations or governments? The issue of sensitive data is also raised by the increase in the number of health-related products.

The success and prospects of the Internet of Things

Growing numbers of smart objects (watches, clothing, accessories, etc.) are available on the market. Many companies have also invested in developing applications linked to their products. These objects are gradually becoming part of our everyday lives. In a society where time savings and productivity are king, it seems obvious that objects and applications that optimise daily tasks look set for a promising future. The development of leisure and the growing interest in technologies also explains the huge success of the Internet of Things.

A recent study by consultants GfK, which provides benchmark information on the markets and consumer behaviour, puts the number of connected objects currently in circulation at 15 billion, and between 50 and 80 billion will be in use by 2020. Top of the market are devices dedicated to the home, with 57% of sales, notably devices dedicated to security, followed by automation systems. Between these devices, watches and accessories, which is a booming market, and smart health devices, which look set for significant growth in the coming years, it's believed that in 2020 every home will have around 30 of these smart systems.

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