The Internet Of Things is becoming one of the most commonly referenced technological concepts that many people still don’t understand. It’s casually referred to in ads for technological companies, and there’s limitless literature about it online that often communicates very little real detail. So how can you make sense of something that already seems to have become a vague and hollow term?

Fortunately, the Internet Of Things (or IoT) is actually a pretty simple concept once you get into understanding what it is and what sort of impact it has on your world. The information below should serve as an introductory guide to figuring it all out.

What It Is

The IoT is effectively a system that’s come about as a result of the fact that more and more devices are being built with WiFi capabilities and additional sensors for enhanced connectivity. And this doesn’t just refer to personal communication and data devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers. Rather, it refers to the fact that basic utility devices, from home thermostats to systems within our cars, now have the capability to connect wirelessly.

What this new state of connectivity enables is the automatic sharing of information between these devices and you, as the user. The IoT is a literal phrase describing what occurs when the “things” we use report back to us on the usage and adapt to our habits. Through it, we can improve energy efficiency, optimize our safety and living environments, and even gain a better picture of our own personal fitness. As a result, our day-to-day lives can become simpler and more satisfying.

Where It’s In Effect

The short answer to this question is that the IoT is already in effect in so many different industries and areas of our lives that it’s difficult to name just a few of them. The truth is that almost every industry can benefit from investing in the Internet Of Things, and this means that it has spread to a number of different companies performing a whole range of functions. On a large scale, manufacturing, shipping, and the information sectors are currently dominating IoT innovation. Companies in these areas are spending tens of billions of dollars on implementing sensors and WiFi connectivity in everything from fleet vehicles to warehouse shelves.

On a smaller scale that’s more relatable in most people’s everyday lives, the IoT is perhaps most recognizable in home management, home security, and exercise equipment. IoT products are already beginning to take over these areas: smart temperature control systems and lighting systems help our homes to adjust to whatever we prefer (and whatever saves the most energy). Advanced security systems give us a better grasp than ever before on our homes’ safety. And personal exercise tools and apps can help us to gauge every aspect of our personal health. These are some of the ways in which many are taking advantage of the IoT without even fully realizing it.

Where It Goes From Here

The question of where this concept goes from here is one without any exact answers, because there’s really no telling exactly where the concept will evolve in the coming years. However, it’s already far larger than many people realize (as indicated by the aforementioned large scale applications). While we can’t predict exactly where it’s headed, we might have an idea of how big it’s going to get.

Some estimate that by 2020 there will be as many as 25 billion smart devices around the world that are connected in one way or another to the IoT. To put that in perspective, it’s by comparison to an estimated 3.8 billion already connected by the end of 2014. For the most part, this massive expected increase will occur within industries already taking advantage of this concept. But if it’s true that 25 billion devices will be in play in another five years, there will almost certainly be new applications we can’t yet predict.

That should all help to provide a basic understanding of what everyone’s talking about with regard to this new phenomenon. The reality is that a better term would be Internets Of Things, because different industries use the concept in different ways. But any time you use devices that collect data and adjust automatically, you’re making use of this growing system.