What is the Internet of Things? The Internet of Things, or IoT, is an umbrella term for the idea of connecting new types of devices to the Internet – devices that have not been Internet-connected in the past. For a home user, this might be their heating or lighting systems, whereas for a business, it might be connecting sensors on a physical production line.
Some principal functions of IoT are to control systems and / or collect data that can be analyzed later. A home user might program the interior lights to go on when the electronic front door lock is used. For businesses, cost savings might be realized by analyzing data from sensors on a production line and comparing their values to the quality of the final product. Using the collected data, some settings could be changed so that more of the final output is of saleable quality.
You can experiment with small inexpensive computing devices that are ideal for learning and exploring. The devices can run Windows 10 IoT Core, which is a version of Windows 10 that is optimized for smaller, less powerful devices that run with or without a display.
To get some ideas and inspiration for how Windows 10 IoT could be used in your environment, this Microsoft site is a great place to start. Next, check out this page to see which devices can work with Windows 10 IoT – that page will also help you get the operating system onto a supported device.
The IoT edition of Windows 10 does not have a start menu or desktop in the sense you may be used to. Instead, after starting up, it will display a screen with configuration information and a gear icon in the upper right corner where you can configure settings such as wireless networking and Bluetooth devices.
A Windows 10 IoT device hosts a website on port 8080 that you can access from another machine on the network via the device’s IP address, e.g. http://192.168.0.2:8080. The site allows you to configure the device as well as control the running of software and diagnose issues.
The Windows 10 IoT Core Dashboard can be downloaded here and installed on a Windows 10 laptop or desktop. The Core Dashboard enables you to manage multiple Windows 10 IoT installations from the same place – including the download and setup of the Windows 10 IoT operating system.
The next step is to give it a try! Even if you start by working on a consumer project for your home, some of the problems you face might also be encountered with business-scale implementations. For example: how to transfer software to the device and make it run without a display (-headless operation); how to retrieve data from the device and store it elsewhere; and how to then analyze that data.
This post is a brief introduction to the support for IoT in Windows 10. Here is a link to a free course on the Microsoft Virtual Academy site that will help you learn more about it.