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IoT Basics – A Guide to IoT Terms

This guide helps you understand the basics of Internet of Things and connected devices. We explain 185 IoT terms and technologies.

The Internet of Things encompasses a complex array of acronyms and terminology that can over-complicate understanding of the core technologies and functions that enable IoT deployments. This IoT glossary sets out definitions for popular technology, acronyms, terms, and systems to demystify the IoT industry and to serve as a handy guide to explain the background of IoT and introduce the newest terminology. We have divided IoT into five key sections for this glossary: IoT Definition, IoT Communications, IoT Connections, the IoT Market and IoT Security.

These five areas neatly segment the market so you can quickly locate relevant terminology. IoT is always moving and continuously innovating so even IoT industry veterans will encounter new technologies, acronyms and descriptions. We have included commonly used IoT terminology to provide a comprehensive yet still easy-to-use tool to help increase understanding and awareness of the technology, connectivity, markets and security that enable IoT. Download IoT Basics as a PDF or check out the other web pages below and learn more about IoT!

IoT Basics: IoT Definition

What Does IoT Stand for?

IoT (The Internet of Things) is where devices are connected to the internet that can be controlled or can be used to send information. This includes devices in households, businesses, factories, farms and cities that are accessible online. These devices can include anything from “smart” fridges, printers, webcams, meters, speakers, cellphones, washing machines, headphones to wearables.

These devices create a network whereby these physical objects – “things” – are connected and can ‘talk’ by sending information from sensors, software, and other technologies and exchange this data with other devices and systems over the internet.  

There are more than 7 billion connected IoT devices today. This number is expected to grow to 10 billion by 2020 and 22 billion by 2025. 

The physical devices of the Internet of Things around the world all collect and share data. Thanks to the arrival of super-cheap computer chips and the omni presence of wireless networks, it’s possible to turn anything, from something as small as a dental implant to something as big as a tractor, into a part of the IoT. Connecting all these different objects and adding sensors to them adds a level of digital intelligence, enabling them to communicate real-time data without involving a human being.  

Ultimately, the Internet of Things is making the fabric of the world around us even more smarter and more responsive, merging the digital and physical universes. 

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Difference between IoT and M2M


Machine to Machine
A communications style emphasizing data transfer between large (sometimes industrial) machines that makes use of near-instantaneous data transfer to facilitate higher efficiency and pre-empt problems.


Internet of Things
Coined in 1999, this refers to the active exchanged of information between devices previously unconnected.


Internet of Everything
Another term for IoT coined by and still used by Cisco, implies that IoT is not only made up of things, but also of data, process and people.


Industrial Internet of Things
An umbrella term for M2M technology when it focuses exclusively on industrial machines.

IoT Industry Organizations


3rd Generation Partnership Project
3rd Generation Partnership Project is a collaborative project established in 1998 aimed at developing globally acceptable specifications for third (and future) generation mobile systems.


Automotive Edge Computing Consortium
An organization focused on driving the network and computing infrastructure needs of automotive big data.


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Describes itself as the “world’s largest technical professional society.” It aims to promote standardization through international electronics development.


International Telecommunications Union
The United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs. The ITU allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits and develops the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect.


GSM Association
The GSM Association represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA organizes the largest annual event in the mobile industry, the GSMA Mobile World Congress.


World Wide Web Consortium
The World Wide Web Consortium is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web (abbreviated WWW or W3).

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