How the IoT works – Meaning and Application Fields
Blog 04/08/2021

How the IoT works – Meaning and Application Fields

IoT is the technology that allows you to make objects smart and make them communicate with the environment. Learn more now!


How does the IoT work?

In recent years, IoT technology has truly revolutionized our concept of integrated and connected telecommunications.

Understanding how the IoT works means beginning a fascinating journey that will lead us from its origins to its most modern and futuristic applications.

Nowadays, many devices already take advantage of IoT technology in many application fields. We are talking about objects equipped with sensors capable of communicating with one another; we are in the age of the Internet of things and machines.



  • IoT Initialism
  • IoT Meaning
  • How the IoT Works
  • IoT Examples and Application Fields


IoT: the initialism that changes the world

IoT is the initialism for Internet of Things, a neologism used in the telecommunications sector and introduced in 1999 by Kevin Ashton.

This initialism was born from the need to express through words a phenomenon linked to the evolution of the use of connectivity, an expanded use capable of also involving physical objects. Before then, there was no term in our language that would allow us to represent this innovative concept.

The initialism IoT was first coined during a presentation at Procter & Gamble; the theme was subsequently developed by the research company Gartner.

The birth of this neologism shows us how technological evolutions are sometimes so impactful that they create a revolution, introducing new innovative concepts that change even our language.

To understand the extent of these phenomena, just think of the revolution brought to the world and to humankind by the birth of the printing press, analysed comprehensively by Marshall McLuhan in the book ‘The Gutenberg galaxy: the making of typographic man’.

Telecommunications revolutions create for all intents and purposes an actual socio-economic change of revolutionary significance. If it is true that the era of Gutenberg is now behind us, today we are in the era of the IoT.


IoT, what does it mean?

To understand the meaning of IoT, we need to thoroughly analyse the concept of ‘smart objects’.

A smart object is a physical product that connects to a network and, thanks to this, it can interact with the surrounding environment or with other objects.
By object we do not just mean things, but various categories such as devices, tools, systems, materials, machines, or equipment.

The meaning of IoT is therefore precisely contained within the words that make up its initialism, Internet of Things.
This modern technology therefore allows objects to become smart, connect, and communicate using various communication technologies such as RFID tags.

The great advantage of having interconnected objects is precisely that of allowing the exchange of data between devices, exchanging stored information that is collected and/or processed at a speed never seen before.

Precisely for this reason, to be defined as ‘smart’, an object must have at least one of the following characteristics:

  • localization,
  • identification,
  • status diagnosis,
  • interaction,
  • data processing,
  • connection.


The meaning of IoT is precisely making an object smart, equipping it with sensors capable of detecting parameters (such as the performance of a machine, the charge level of a battery, the location of an object).

This network of interconnected objects can truly generate applications and uses previously unthinkable, even in everyday life. Think, for example, of running shoes equipped with sensors that detect the data of your run and allow you to send it to anyone in the world, or of intelligent street lamps that adjust their activation or brightness based on atmospheric conditions.

Thanks to the IoT, objects can now generate data, collect it, process it, and transmit it. This is what interconnection means.


How the IoT works

Understanding roughly how the IoT (Internet of Things) works is easy, since, as the name itself suggests, it is a technology that connects different objects with one another and with the environment.

But behind this simple basic concept there is a world of innovative technologies in the field of telecommunications and beyond, just think of the influence that other technologies have on the IoT, like Blockchain, Big Data, and Machine Learning.

There are various technologies that connect objects to one another and to a network, such as RFID tags (among the first to be used in this field) or more recent technologies such as the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol.

To connect objects to the internet you can use SIM cards capable of connecting autonomously via a mobile data service, Wi-Fi, or via Ethernet connection.

Today, the number of connected objects is very high: according to the 2021 Internet of Things Observatory, there are 93 million IoT connections active in Italy.

Among the most common applications are those related to factory management such as real-time production control, logistics support, traceability of goods in the warehouse or along the supply chain.


IoT examples and application fields

The application fields of the IoT have no limits: thanks to this innovative technology we can create connected cities, connected houses, connected factories.

We are facing a true revolution that redraws the boundaries of reality, creating a sort of virtual map of physical objects that puts them in relation to one another. This opens up a new dimension in which the exchange of data on a network between objects is at the service of humankind and its activities.

The application of the IoT in the industry world, for example, ushered in the so-called ‘Industry 4.0’ era, but factories and production are not the only sectors in which the IoT has made a revolutionary contribution.

There are so many examples of IoT application, from logistics to manufacturing, from retail to customer experience, and much more.

If we think, for example, of the retail world, it is clear how this new technology is becoming increasingly present and decisive for a competitive management of goods, human resources, stores, e-commerce, and customer shopping experience.

In a smart store, users can bring the clothes they want to try on to the dressing room and ‘talk’ with the mirror to get information on colour variations and availability of sizes.

At the same time, the staff will be informed in real time on what enters and exits the dressing rooms, with the great advantage of assisting the customer in a precise and timely manner on their specific needs by offering perfectly targeted accessory products.

Furthermore, thanks to this mass of data collected from the clientele, it will be possible to carry out analyses and evaluations, such as analysing the percentage of garments that enter the dressing rooms but are rarely purchased and evaluate their restocking.

But this is just one example of the many fields of application of the IoT, which can be found truly everywhere, even in domestic environments. Being surrounded by connected objects that interact and make decisions under certain circumstances makes life easier in every context.


What is the IoT?

The IoT is the technology that allows objects and machines to communicate with one another and with the environment thanks to a network connection. The IoT uses modern telecommunication technologies such as RFID tags and the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol.

Which devices are IoT?

There are many types of IoT devices; they are objects defined as ‘smart’, as they are connected to a network, for example: thermostats, appliances, production plants, cars.

What are the main fields of application of the IoT?

The fields of application of the IoT are various. In recent years we have seen a big increase in IoT investments in particular in the manufacturing sector, in the agricultural sector, and in the retail sector.