IoT: What Is in a Name?

IoT: What Is in a Name?

This piece was originally published in the August 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Robin Duke-Woolley, Beecham Research

smart city and wireless communication network

The Internet of Things (IoT), a term first coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999, is an ever-developing concept; new terms related to it pop up all the time. Since it is easy to get carried away quickly with definitions in this area, it is important to step back and understand how terms related to the IoT came about.

The term IoT was originally associated with radio-frequency identification, better known as RFID, which wirelessly and automatically identifies and tracks tagged objects. This technology is closely related to consumer purchases. Gradually, the term IoT morphed to refer to connected devices for consumer use.

A related term, M2M (machine-to-machine), was more closely associated with connected devices for business use. Gradually, though, the term IoT also began to be used in reference to M2M solutions, with M2M being phased out over the last few years. This has led to confusion about whether the IoT refers to consumer uses, business uses, or all connected device uses.

It is now increasingly recognized that the term IoT encompasses all connected device uses—consumer and business. Because of that, several further terms have begun to be used to make a finer distinction—for example, Consumer IoT, Enterprise IoT, and Industrial IoT (IIoT).

Beecham Research has coined terms such as Internet of Retail to describe the use of the IoT in retail, Internet of Insurance to describe the use of the IoT in insurance, and Internet of Manufacturing (IoM) to describe the use of the IoT in manufacturing.

Read the August 2016 issue of electroindustry.

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