Sensors make dumb things smart. They are at the root of any Internet of Things solution, breathing intelligence into otherwise dumb objects and devices.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the growing number of physical devices around the globe that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. With the help of wireless networks, pretty much anything, from a handbag to a shipping container, can be transformed into an IoT device if it has one or more sensors embedded in it that can be connected to the internet and controlled that way. Sensors are therefore indispensable enablers of the IoT. They add a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate without a human being involved, and merging the digital and physical worlds.
A sensor for every occasion
Sensors serve three broad purposes. They identify items, locate them and determine their environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, vibrations, motion, light, pressure or altitude. A GPS sensor, for example, can tell us where a missing pet is. A sensor that measures light will be able to intelligently switch light bulbs on or off in our homes. One that checks temperature in combination with others that measure air pressure or humidity can monitor a meat storage facility. At an even bigger scale, smart city projects are filling entire regions with sensors to help us understand and control the environment. And the cost of adding sensors and an internet connection to objects has continued to fall over recent years, opening up even more possibilities for the use of connected devices. Experts predict that this basic functionality could one day cost as little as a few cents, making it possible to connect nearly everything to the internet.