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From smartwatches that fit on your wrist to massive underground sensors that direct traffic for entire cities, the Internet of Things (IoT) is growing. Smart, interconnected devices are constantly exchanging data, solving problems, and simplifying our everyday lives. 127 devices connect to the internet every second. So as a real estate professional, how can you make an IoT device work for you?

While you might not expect a building entry system to have an internet connection, an IoT intercom creates a secure and seamless property access experience. Read on to learn about the history of the Internet of Things and how it works. We’ll also explain how you can invest in an IoT intercom to create a better living experience for your tenants.

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What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a term used to describe devices that exchange information with other devices using the internet. Now that the internet is so widespread, these devices use it to share the data they collect with other devices. IoT devices communicate through the cloud.

When things connect at such a high level, they can eliminate inefficiencies and solve problems on a scale that’s almost mind-boggling. Take UPS as an IoT example. After outfitting their trucks with smart sensors, UPS had the data to optimize trucking routes and identify which vehicles needed maintenance.


What are ‘things’ in IoT?

An IoT ‘thing’ is any device that’s attached to an internet-connected sensor. And thanks to recent advances in technology (check out this sensor small enough to fit on your fingertip), there’s no limit on what an IoT device can be.

Another Internet of Things example that might surprise you is your shirt. Polo Ralph Lauren’s smart shirt gives you real-time workout data. It uses the internet to assess your biometrics and detect your heart rate, breathing, and exertion. That’s just one device, with one application, out of millions in the world now.

Today’s IoT seems complex, but its origins were quite humble. Keep reading to learn how the Internet of Things began.


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The history of the Internet of Things

Before the Internet of Things became the globe-spanning network it is today, several crucial milestones had to be reached first. Here’s a quick look at a few of them.


Beginnings of the internet

You can’t have an IoT without the I. The Internet of Things wouldn’t be around without the network that paved the way for it.

Pioneers built the internet with the open, quick exchange of information in mind. But before it was the internet, it was ARPANET — the Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork, a creation of the Department of Defense. ARPANET was founded in 1966 as a way for scientists across the country to communicate with each other.

These scientists developed a set of communication rules called TCP/IP protocols. These protocols let computers send and receive large amounts of data without errors. TCP/IP protocols allowed ARPANET to connect to networks hosted at universities and networks in other countries. This created a “network of networks,” which became the internet. Soon, the internet was open to the public at large.


The first internet-connected device

Today, the Internet of Things might include a sensor responsible for maintaining a power grid that services millions of people. But back in the early 1980s, it was merely a way for Carnegie Mellon students to check on a vending machine without having to get up.

Enterprising grad students got tired of visiting a faraway Coke machine and finding it empty — or worse, filled too recently for their sodas to be cold. So, they rigged up a system that tracked the vending machine’s indicator lights. With a simple keyboard command, they could see how long it had been since the machine had been filled and whether it was full. These grad students might not have known it, but they helped lay the foundation for the Internet of Things.


Innovations spur mass adoption

As the 90s and 2000s rolled around, interest in the Internet of Things skyrocketed. You could hook devices up to the internet if you really wanted to, but it would set you back quite a bit (Case in point: this $20,000 fridge). Luckily for the Internet of Things, key technological developments tilted the balance in its favor.

First was the invention of the RFID tag, a cheap sensor that lowered the price of many IoT devices. Secondly, the mainstream adoption of the internet ensured that IoT devices always had a way to connect with each other.

The first IoT adopters were manufacturers and businesses that called IoT communications “machine-to-machine” (M2M) communications. The second wave of adopters saw that IoT had the potential to change our daily lives, and built smart objects that could anticipate consumers’ needs.


How IoT works

The Internet of Things works by connecting devices embedded with sensors, allowing those devices to exchange information and adapt to new situations. IoT devices come in all shapes and sizes, but every IoT device follows the same general principles. Every IoT device must ensure that the data flowing between devices arrives quickly at the correct place. In addition, devices must also respond appropriately to that data. This is no small feat.

Those TCP/IP protocols mentioned earlier are still heavily used today. IoT machines use those protocols to send information to a processor. This can be a cloud-based processor or one that’s nearby. That processor stores and analyzes the data, and can direct other IoT software and hardware into action.


iot intercom in apartment building


How real estate professionals can use the Internet of Things

Property owners, managers, and developers can use the Internet of Things by investing in proptech (property technology). Proptech systems powered by the Internet of Things improve your tenants’ living experiences in new ways.

Many IoT devices have been developed with the smart home in mind. For example, temperature sensors can detect when someone’s inside a room and whether that room needs air conditioning.

But most of these devices weren’t built to address one of the biggest challenges property managers face: ensuring seamless yet secure property access. By investing in an IoT intercom for access control, you can use the Internet of Things to create a smart visitor management system and solve one of your thorniest issues.


What is an IoT intercom?

An IoT intercom is an intercom that uses the internet to enhance its functions. IoT intercoms improve the communication capabilities of traditional analog intercoms while adding many new, exciting features.

Because IoT intercoms use the internet, they share some similarities with another type of intercom system: the IP intercom. However, while an IP intercom might only use the internet to allow visitors and tenants to communicate wirelessly, IoT intercoms have the sensors and processing power to take full advantage of everything the internet has to offer.

An IoT intercom’s internet connection means that users can connect to it from anywhere. If you live in a building with an IoT intercom, you can let somebody in even if you aren’t in the building yourself. The speed at which data flows through the internet means that IoT intercoms support flawless audio communication. Plus, many IoT intercoms offer video communications as well. Some even offer a mobile app that lets you use your smartphone with the IoT video intercom system.


IoT intercom benefits

Video and audio communication aren’t the only ways for an IoT intercom to make residents’ lives easier.

Here are some of the many benefits of an IoT intercom:

  • Property staff can track door release events.
  • IoT intercoms can integrate with property management software and other smart access solutions.
  • You can connect an IoT intercom with your elevator to empower tenants to unlock key-fobbed elevators from their smartphones.


IoT intercom takeaways

If you want an intercom system that makes your renters’ lives easier and puts a world of new information at your fingertips, consider an IoT intercom. Countless others have used the power of the internet to transform the way they do business. Invest in an IoT solution and make the future work for you.


try the ButterflyMX IoT intercom

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Ferdison Cayetano

I’m a proptech enthusiast from New Jersey who’s looking forward to the innovations that will revolutionize real estate.

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