The internet of things (IoT) includes connect devices, smart homes, self-driving cars and other connected devices. According to recent studies, anywhere from 6.4 billion to 22.9 billion connected things will exist around the world by 2016, and between 20.8 billion and 50.1 billion things will be in use by 2020.  

But, what is the IoT? How do you define it?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, there really isn’t a single, universally accepted definition of IoT. To help define the terminology, NIST recently released a publication on the Networks of Things (NoT).

According to NIST computer scientist Jeffrey Voas, the NoT model is based on four IoT fundamentals—sensing, computing, communication and actuation. The NoT model is based on distributed computing, in which “computer components are networked and share messages about tasks to operate efficiently”—such as a local area network in an office with a shared printer.

“The vocabulary and science of the Network of Things will help researchers understand how the components of IoT interoperate, and compare the security risks and reliability tradeoffs,” Voas said.

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