Lately, a smart device has become synonymous with anything that can be connected to the Internet, but there is more than that for a device to be called a ‘smart’ device. For a device to be termed as a ‘smart’ device it should be able to fulfill the following criteria.
A sensor is what distinguishes a device from a smart device. A smart device should be able to capture some parameters from its environment, such as temperature, humidity, vibration, etc. It acts as your eyes and ears to know the environment around it.
It should be able to offer value to the user. If a device does not give any added value, no one will be ready to pay for it. It could be as simple as the ability to control lights from your phone and use machine learning to understand your preferences during the day. Without any value, a ‘smart’ device is really just a remote-controlled device.
It should have the processing power to make intelligent decisions so as to work more efficiently and execute faster decisions, rather than sending all the information to the cloud for processing and decision-making. Depending on the IoT use case, the processing power requirement of the smart device can vary. If an immediate decision needs to be made, then the smart device needs to have more processing power to make the decision. If the use case does not require immediate decisions, then a lot of that can be done in backend systems.
It should be able to communicate with other devices or to the cloud. They should have the ability to connect us with data that can show insights into our everyday lives and provide predictive analytics based on said data. There are a wide variety of communication mechanisms available such as MQTT, Bluetooth, GSM, LPWAN, Sigfox, etc. for different use cases — and they are rapidly evolving.
It should have a power source. It could be a main power line, battery, solar, etc. It may be a one-time battery charge that can last for the complete life of the device or a replenishable power source.
It should have internal memory to make intelligent decisions and behave in accordance with its external environment. Internal memory is also required so as to install device agents or for some local processing. As the complexity of the use case increases, so will be the memory requirement in future.
Ease of Use
Finally, it must be easy to use. When you have thousands of smart devices to manage, then you don't want it to be difficult to use and manage them. You want it to be as easy as possible to set up and forget about them for long periods of time — all while expecting them to function with minimal or no maintenance. In case a firmware upgrade is required on the device, it should be as smooth as possible.
It’s a combination of all the above that makes a ‘smart’ device a better choice for a consumer than a dumb one. A smart device gives them (and you) easy-to-understand data right at your fingertips and adds value, along with control.
It’s high time we stopped calling everything that’s connected to the Internet “smart.”