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Why the IoT Is Better with SMS

Why the IoT Is Better with SMS

We may not have flying cars, but we're officially in the futuristic world of connected toasters, trains, and toys. Learn why the IoT depends on the SMS to scale.

Here’s how one website describes the Internet of Things, or IoT: The Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs).

Did that explanation make you react like this?

Same here, but don’t despair. It’s not as complicated as you may think.

What in the World Is the IoT?

The Internet of Things refers to all of the devices that are connected to the internet. They use this connection to share and collect valuable information. In short, it’s a collection of lots of devices that talk to each other.

What kind of devices, you ask? Let’s take a look at some examples you may already be familiar with.

These are just the beginning. There are also Wifi-enabled window blinds, coffee makers, water filters, BBQs, and even egg trays. Yes, eggs trays. Take a look:

Gimmicky products aside, the IoT has had dramatic effects on our economy.

According to a report by Gartner, there will be 20 billion internet-connected things by 2020. Most of these may not be consumer devices. Things like jet engines, oil rigs, parking garages, and trucks all make up the Internet of Things too!

5 Reasons the IoT Benefits from SMS

The IoT sounds futuristic, so it may be surprising to hear it benefits from—and sometimes relies on—a technology that’s older than the first episode of American Idol, text messages.

1. People are Tired of Downloading New Apps

No one likes clutter, even the virtual kind. An analysis of 8 billion app installs worldwide found that on average, apps get deleted in 5.8 days after they’re last used. App fatigue is now a thing. On the other hand, no one can or will delete the SMS app that’s native to their phone.

Take smart doorbells for example. Most deliver a push notification when someone is at your door. What if they could just text you instead? It would mean one less app, and the same functionality. Plus, less development time for the manufacturer and more convenience for the consumer.

Today 1:00 PM
Knock knock! Someone is at your front door.

Think we’re exaggerating? People have even gone out of their way to build this product themselves using the Amazon dash button.

2. SMS Simplifies Multi-Factor Authentication

Do you ever feel like Facebook is listening to your conversations? Well now picture a future where most of the devices in your home are connected to the internet. If that makes you nervous, you’re not alone.

A recent study on the IoT found that 60 percent of risk professionals are concerned about security vulnerabilities. For this reason, multi-factor authentication is essential. Simply put, multi-factor authentication is when a device has more than one level of security.

SMS can help ensure that no one but the owner can login to the device. If you’ve ever logged into your back account from a new computer, you’ve probably experienced this technology. A text to your phone with a one-time password is all it takes to confirm it’s really you.

Today 11:31 AM
G-135654 is your verification code. Enter it to login to your device.

3. SMS Can Reach Nearly Every Part of the Globe

As we mentioned, the IoT doesn’t just consist of products in your home. It also involves more complex, industrial devices. Take a sensor attached to a freight train, for example. More likely than not, the train will pass through some areas that have poor internet coverage. What if it needs to communicate while in one of these areas?

Image courtesy of Cisco

Luckily, SMS doesn’t need internet to be delivered, just plain ol’ cell coverage. And cell coverage can be found in over 200 countries.

4. SMS Requires Very Little Battery

You know the pang of anxiety that hits when your phone is at 1%? SMS prevents that. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty details, read this post by Bryan Hughes, the CTO at Nokia’s IoT analytics branch.

Here’s the ELI5 version: Many IoT devices are small sensors with small batteries. For a device to connect reliably to the internet, it must be fully powered on. This drains battery life. In the last point, we explained that SMS doesn’t need internet. This means the sensor can send a text, and the text can be processed somewhere that power is abundant.

Still a little lost? Imagine you have 1% battery and can’t find your charger. You want to check who was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars last night. Would you rather text your friend and ask them to look it up for you or take the risk of trying to Google it yourself?

5. It’s Inexpensive to Send SMS Messages

There are very few costs involved in texting. Every SimpleTexting plan comes with a toll-free number capable of sending mass texts. And the more texts you send, the less each one costs!

The only costly aspect is the price involved with leasing a dedicated short code. However, this only applies to large enterprise clients.

How to Add SMS to Your IoT Device

Are you a developer with a brilliant idea for an IoT device? We’re here to help you text-enable it. Our developer-friendly SMS API makes it easy to add text message capabilities to your software or product. Why not read this case study about Gifyyy, the photobooth of the future. They rely on SimpleTexting to instantly deliver GIFs to their users. When you’re ready to build a product of your own, go ahead and sign up for a 14-day free trial.

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