Why is it important to learn about the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things term was coined by Kevin Ashton executive director of the Auto-ID Center in 1999:

In the next century, planet earth will don an electronic skin. It will use the Internet as a scaffold to support and transmit its sensations. This skin is already being stitched together. It consists of millions of embedded electronic measuring devices: thermostats, pressure gauges, pollution detectors, cameras, microphones, glucose sensors, EKGs, electroencephalographs. These will probe and monitor cities and endangered species, the atmosphere, our ships, highways and fleets of trucks, our conversations, our bodies–even our dreams.

The Internet of Things represents a vision in which the Internet extends into the real world embracing everyday objects. Physical items are no longer disconnected from the virtual world, but can be controlled remotely and can act as physical access points to Internet services.(Internet of Computers to the Internet of Things  Friedemann Mattern and Christian Floerkemeier.)

Simply put; connecting a device to the internet and or each other; IoT is made up of devices – from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables – connected together. The Internet of Things allows devices to communicate and share data with each other from wherever they are in the world. This information sharing is already making processes and businesses more efficient and has huge potential for the future of work.

The Internet of Things is making our homes smarter (smart fridges, thermostats, coffee makers to name but a few examples) and will make our cities smarter too; helping with tasks such as waste management, traffic monitoring and air pollution.


The analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices. With this in mind it’s never been a more pressing time to teach young people about the concept of IoT and how they can utilise this technology for positive means.

Of course this connectedness will not come without risk; anything connected to the internet is vulnerable to hacking, as well as the questions surrounding data ownership. Responsible usage of new technologies is one of the crucial aspects emphasised in our IoT course; this is taught as part of the IoT introductory module.  It’s important students understand and appreciate the potential benefits and risks the Internet of Things present. 

As well as this, the other crucial learnings students take away from the Internet of Things course are:

  • Understanding some of the design challenges involved in developing an IoT device
  • Gaining a better understanding of potential obstacles that new IoT device ideas could face in the existing market
  • Being able to convey the key concepts of an IoT device idea clearly and concisely
  • Gaining an insightful understanding of the technical requirements of an IoT device
  • Being able create paper and physical prototypes of an IoT device

A small snapshot of the ideas students who have completed the IoT course this year have developed include: a smart bike which has indicators and changes colour depending on the rider’s speed, a smart pill box which sends patients a reminder to their phone when it’s time to take their medication and ‘Posture Chair’ which nudges the user to correct their posture and provides information about how long the user has been sitting in certain positions.

This year at our annual Awards the new ‘Emerging Tech’ category, supported by SAP, will give students the opportunity to pitch their products to industry professionals. We are very excited to see more of the innovations students of the course have created, so watch this space!

If you know a teacher keen to share the IoT concept with their students whilst enabling them to get creative by developing their own IoT product then let them know about our free IoT content which can be accessed here.

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