What is IoT? – a guide to IoT terminology

What is IoT? This guide helps you understand the Internet of Things and connected devices. We explain 185 IoT terms and technologies.

IoT stands for Internet of Things – but what does IoT mean? Find out in this web guide in five parts or download the whole “What is IoT guide” as a PDF. 

IoT guide Part 1

IoT guide Part 2

IoT guide Part 3

IoT guide Part 4

IoT guide Part 5

Internet of Things encompasses a complex array of acronyms and terminology that can over-complicate understanding of the core technologies and functions that enable IoT deployments. This IoT glossary sets out definitions for popular technology, terms, IoT acronyms and systems to demystify the IoT industry and to serve as a handy guide to explain the background of IoT and introduce the newest terminology. We have divided IoT into four key sections for this glossary which include: IoT Communications, IoT Connections, the IoT Market and IoT Security.

These four areas neatly segment the market so you can quickly locate relevant terminology in the IoT glossary. IoT is always moving and continuously innovating so even IoT industry veterans will encounter new technologies, acronyms and descriptions. We have included commonly used IoT terminology in this glossary to provide a comprehensive yet still easy-to-use tool to help increase understanding and awareness of the technology, connectivity, markets and security that enable IoT.

What is IoT guide part 1 - IoT definition

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is where devices are connected to the internet that can be controlled or can be used to send information. This includes devices in households, businesses, factories, farms and cities that are accessible online. These devices can include anything from “smart” fridges, printers, webcams, meters, speakers, cellphones, washing machines, headphones to wearables.

These devices create a network whereby these physical objects – “things” – are connected and can ‘talk’ by sending information from sensors, software, and other technologies and exchange this data with other devices and systems over the internet.  

There are more than 7 billion connected IoT devices today. This number is expected to grow to 10 billion by 2020 and 22 billion by 2025. 

The physical devices of the Internet of Things around the world all collect and share data. Thanks to the arrival of super-cheap computer chips and the omni presence of wireless networks, it’s possible to turn anything, from something as small as a dental implant to something as big as a tractor, into a part of the IoT. Connecting all these different objects and adding sensors to them adds a level of digital intelligence, enabling them to communicate real-time data without involving a human being.  

Ultimately, the Internet of Things is making the fabric of the world around us even more smarter and more responsive, merging the digital and physical universes. 

Difference between IoT and M2M

M2M

Machine to Machine
A communications style emphasizing data transfer between large (sometimes industrial) machines that makes use of near-instantaneous data transfer to facilitate higher efficiency and pre-empt problems.

IoT

Internet of Things
Coined in 1999, this refers to the active exchanged of information between devices previously unconnected.

IoE

Internet of Everything
Another term for IoT coined by and still used by Cisco, implies that IoT is not only made up of things, but also of data, process and people.

IIoT

Industrial Internet of Things
An umbrella term for M2M technology when it focuses exclusively on industrial machines.

IoT industry organizations

3GPP

3rd Generation Partnership Project
3rd Generation Partnership Project is a collaborative project established in 1998 aimed at developing globally acceptable specifications for third (and future) generation mobile systems.

AECC

Automotive Edge Computing Consortium
An organization focused on driving the network and computing infrastructure needs of automotive big data.

IEEE

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Describes itself as the “world’s largest technical professional society.” It aims to promote standardization through international electronics development.

ITU

International Telecommunications Union
The United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs. The ITU allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits and develops the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect.

GSMA

GSM Association
The GSM Association represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA organizes the largest annual event in the mobile industry, the GSMA Mobile World Congress.

W3C

World Wide Web Consortium
The World Wide Web Consortium is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web (abbreviated WWW or W3).

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