The Internet of Things (IoT), also sometimes referred to as the Internet of Everything (IoE), consists of all the web-enabled devices that collect, send and act on data they acquire from their surrounding environments using embedded sensors, processors and communication hardware. These devices, often called "connected" or "smart" devices, can sometimes talk to other related devices, a process called machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, and act on the information they get from one another. Humans can interact with the gadgets to set them up, give them instructions or access the data, but the devices do most of the work on their own without human intervention. Their existence has been made possible by all the tiny mobile components that are available these days, as well as the always-online nature of our home and business networks.
Connected devices also generate massive amounts of Internet traffic, including loads of data that can be used to make the devices useful, but can also be mined for other purposes. All this new data, and the Internet-accessible nature of the devices, raises both privacy and security concerns.
But this technology allows for a level of real-time information that we've never had before. We can monitor our homes and families remotely to keep them safe. Businesses can improve processes to increase productivity and reduce material waste and unforeseen downtime. Sensors in city infrastructure can help reduce road congestion and warn us when infrastructure is in danger of crumbling. Gadgets out in the open can monitor for changing environmental conditions and warn us of impending disasters.