A device connected to the internet can collect information via sensors and send this information to be analyzed, to create an action or learn from a process. Or, the device can receive this information for it to act upon, or both. Being connected to the internet can make any device instantly smarter.
There are many examples that illustrate the power of IoT:
On a farm, sensors that automatically measure soil moisture levels can tell farmers exactly when their crops need to be watered. Instead of watering too much (which can be an expensive over-use of irrigation systems and environmentally wasteful) or watering too little (which can be an expensive loss of crops), the farmer can ensure that crops get exactly the right amount of water.
In a factory, sensors on production equipment can identity problems with equipment health and performance before they happen and prescribe maintenance procedures, to avoid any equipment failure and downtime. Sensors can also monitor the quality of items being manufactured and compare them with process parameters in real time – and adjustments can be made immediately to reduce the chance or number of faulty components being produced, saving time and money.
On a city wide scale, trash cans can be equipped with sensors to detect their fill level. Then, the route of a garbage pickup can be optimized to collect trash from those cans that are full, while discounting those that do not need to be emptied, resulting in time and fuel savings. In addition, this data can be used for further analytics about how many times the trash cans are emptied and how fast they fill up, facilitating more insightful actions such as planning better distribution of garbage bins or zeroing on problems (e.g. incorrect disposal practices).