Should We Stop Saying the Term "IoT"?
Mon, April 19, 2021

Should We Stop Saying the Term "IoT"?

Perhaps we are stuck with the term "IoT" until a better term is coined / Photo Credit: Billion Photos (via Shutterstock)


We are stuck with the odd term “Internet of Things,” said Hod Fleishman of business news platform Forbes. The term emerged when the internet was a thing, alluding to a world in which digital sensors interact with each other akin to how people interact with each other online.  It’s been 21 years since the said term was coined and we have yet to fulfill its vision. Sadly, IoT’s definition of “Sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects that are linked through wired and wireless networks" doesn’t exactly capture its potential. Smart homes, smart homes, Industry 4.0, healthcare, AVs, and other sectors benefit from what we mean when we say IoT. 

IoT is not a new concept. In fact, we can trace its roots to “telemetry,” referring to big and bulky devices that could capture simple data points and transmit them back for analysis. As years passed, telemetry evolved into telematics, which involved cheaper smaller devices with more processing power. Due to the advent of telematics, business applications such as truck management started to flourish. Then, Machine to Machine (M2M) became possible as devices shrunk in size. Finally, we now enter the age of IoT. IoT devices are more compact and available. However, we are currently facing difficulties in making our world more connected. IoT is evolving, but it has turned into something different from what we envisioned. 

Perhaps IoT as an independent identity is dead. It’s not enough to describe it as a device that captures data and communicates with other devices. In order for IoT to deliver on its promise and provide business value, it has to have the ability to make sense of the data it gathered, as well as to take meaningful actions. It could be renamed to “Cyber-Physical Objects," but this term can be misleading as it indicates a “one-way” street in which data goes through from the field to an action delivery platform. 

The term has run into a branding problem. What’s the right name to call it? Until the public understands its purpose of linking the physical and digital worlds, making sense of what is happening, and taking beneficial actions, we are stuck with “IoT.”