Disruptive Technologies HVAC with temp sensor 1

Jargon buster: Internet of Things

IoT is like many of the acronyms in the proptech world: you know it’s important but you don’t quite know what it means.

Here’s a cheat sheet for some of the most common words and phrases related to IoT you should know about.

Internet of Things 

The term Internet of Things was coined by British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton in 1999, and applies to the network of interconnected devices that use sensors to collect data and communicate it with each other. This spans from home lighting systems that are operated via smartphone, to city-wide energy grids that adapt to weather conditions to improve efficiency.

Identity of Things

For an object to be found on the Internet of Things it must be individually identifiable. Much like a computer IP address, the Identity of Things (abbreviated to IDoT) relates to the unique identifier of metadata (data that provides information about other data) belonging to each connectable device.

Big Data

This is data so vast that traditional data processing software can’t process it. The three Vs of big data are volume, velocity and variety. This means that Big Data is large in quantity, travels and changes quickly, and doesn’t fit the traditional measures of data. Think of Big Data as that processed by machines and ‘small data’ as that processed by people.

Smart City

A smart city is an urban area that utilises Big Data generated from sensors to continually improve efficiency. This could be traffic lights that react to the level of traffic to improve the flow, or solar panels on buildings that control internal heating systems.

Smart Home

It’s been hard to ignore the rise of Amazon’s Alexa, but smart homes encompass much more than voice command technology. A fully smart home may have CCTV, heating, lighting and entertainment devices linked up to be pre-programmed or controlled remotely, with the intention of improving efficiency. These devices may even learn through Artificial Intelligence which ambient conditions are preferred and when.

Machine Learning

Similar to mathematical optimisation, machine learning really means computers adapting their output after processing results to produce the best response next time. Machine learning can assist in building maintenance by predicting potential causes of system failure.


Protocols are the networks used to connect smart devices together as an alternative to a standard broadband Internet connection. This could be 4G or Bluetooth, or one of the protocols created specifically for IoT such as Z-Wave, which is designed for smart home equipment.

Ambient Intelligence 

This refers to environments that are responsive to the needs and routines of the people who use them. Ambient intelligence is becoming particularly relevant in relation to modern office space as landlords compete to deliver the most efficient and friendly experience for tenant customers.

IoT in the news

German tech giant, Bosch, unveiled a driverless electric shuttle bus at CES 2019, the annual consumer technology extravaganza, as part of a comprehensive push into the Internet of Things market.

In an interview with retail developer Hammerson’s head of customer experience, Kathryn Malloch, she revealed that the company is looking at the future of its buildings and how they can be made more efficient through the use of integrated IoT technology

Research by ESI ThoughtLab, a think tank, reported that by 2021, almost all cities will draw on IoT and real-time data, and use of predictive data, which about 40% of cities already use and will rise in usage by 63%.

With the rise of sensors in our homes and workplaces, security is a key issue in the world of IoT. Tarjei Vassbotn, product lead at Disruptive Technologies, manufacturers of sensors to monitor building conditions, explains the firm’s approach to avoiding IoT attacks from cyber criminals.

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