What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things describes the connection of physical objects with the virtual world of the Internet. (e.g. fitness wristbands) These physical objects are equipped with special technologies that enable interaction or data transfer between humans and machines or between machines and machines.
This technology is based on sensors which, thanks to fast processors and large storage capacities, enable information to be transmitted in real time. The aim is to automatically capture relevant information from the real world, link it and make it available again via a digital network. This creates systems in which connected machines can interact with each other or with people.
Almost all objects or machines can be equipped with technical components such as sensors or microprocessors in order to experience a digital transformation and to communicate with each other via IP network. These devices are often called smart devices.
In the Internet of Things, objects are assigned a unique identity and they can communicate with each other or take commands. Furthermore, applications can be automated, and tasks can be carried out without external intervention.
Within an Internet of Things infrastructure, physical objects are clearly identified and given a virtual presence in a network structure. Therefore, they are localized by their IP address, automatically identified via codes and can be forced to interactions by other machines. If, for example, an object travels through a light barrier on a conveyor belt, the following processing station can be informed about this and necessary further processes can be initiated. Product information can be queried by using a barcode scan.
Such machine status information is very helpful in production. This can improve the efficiency and device runtime and draw attention to necessary maintenance.
An example of how the Internet of Things works:
- The weighing station of a conveyor line identifies a pack of screws (automatic, clear identification).
- Due to the low weight, the weighing station recognizes that there are too few screws in the package (condition detection).
- The pack of screws is re-routed after the weighing station and sent to the refilling. (action execution).
What is the meaning of the Internet of Things?
Compared to automation technology – where systems, programs or components automatically perform certain tasks – the difference is that, in addition to automation, the Internet of Things also aims for the highest / broadest possible availability.The obtained information should be shared, exchanged and used across a complete supply chain, and beyond company boundaries.
For example, parcel tracking is not only important for internal company processes, but also for the end user. Production processes are one of the application areas for the Internet of Things, where it is used in autonomous manufacturing or in the sense of a broader, deeper and faster use of data. However, to make this work, all components must be connected to the Internet.
How do people and computers interact?
When a human interacts with a machine, there are two different ways. The Human-Machine System (HMS) and the Human-Computer-Interactions (HCI).
HMS is about the interaction between man and machine. Here, people mostly take control and act as an operator. The machine is the needed object, which is equipped with sensors, storage and process technology, mechanics and display aids. Examples include cars, ships, planes or bicycles, but also robots that serve as support for precise interventions in the operating room.
MCI is the interaction between humans and computers. There is an invisible interface that connects both worlds with each other via computer technology. Classic media such as images, text and video grow together with technical work environments such as computer science and communication technology through digital information processing. In contrast to HMS, within HCI people can communicate directly with the computer. Things like keyboard, mouse, or data glasses support personal machine communication. Good examples for this are data glasses, which expand the senses with their technology and enrich existing information with new data records. (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality). Assembly work or operations, for example, can be supported by data glasses.
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Cf. Gruenderszene.de, Internet of Things, accessed: 16.04.2020
Cf. BigData Insider, Was ist das Internet of Things?, accessed: 16.04.2020