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Understanding the Working of an IoT System (in non-technical terms)

If you look at the definition of an IoT system on the internet, chances are you will be left confused because of the complexity of words and interrelations used in the explanation. For a non-technical user, it is getting intriguingly confusing to understand and IoT system because otherwise, these devices are making their way in the market nicely, and are being accepted warmly–getting to know their functionality will help in their optimal use.

Here’s a simple explanation:

There are four components of an IoT system, namely: sensors (also called devices), connectivity, data processing, and a user interface. Let’s understand each of them separately.


Sensors are the essential components because they collect the data in which an IoT system is operating. Consider your smartphones—they have multiple sensors including a camera, GPS, an accelerometer, etc.


Connectivity is the process which sends the data to the cloud system. Whatever method is employed (differs for different IoT devices) for connectivity, the objective is to get the data to the cloud. It could be through Bluetooth, Wifi, Satellite, Cellular or even Ethernet that connects to the internet.

Data processing

Data processing is the phase where data collected on the cloud is processed by software. It could simply be a reading of the temperature of your city or face-recognition for safety measures.

User interface

The user interface is the application through which all the data processing is worked upon to be useful for human users. Based on the data, it could send a notification or an email or a simple text message. Based on the IoT device type, there could be an action required by the human user or it could be performed automatically by the device. With some predefined functions, the IoT device could do the desired tasks automatically or a user might require some mobile apps to perform them manually.



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