What is the difference between the Internet of Things and the traditional Internet? Without the IoT, previously we could communicate with components in various remote monitoring projects with traditional Internet, like as, smart meter, remote meter, smart appliance, VTS (Vehicle Tracking System). So why do we need IoT? What is the meaning of the IoT environment?

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    It's a marketing buzzword?
    – Ghanima
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 5:56
  • I've always seen the IoT as a reference to things which are being integrated into the Internet behind-the-scenes or more tangentially. Web browsers, servers, VTS, etc. always had the explicit purpose of network communication. IoT is comprised of things that you wouldn't necessarily expect to do that. (As in, if you didn't know it was 'smart' or part of the IoT, you wouldn't expect it to even try to go online.) Watches, refrigerators, AC, heating, etc. are what I'm talking about here.
    – Jeutnarg
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 20:11

11 Answers 11


The two terms are not really talking about the same thing. "The Internet" is really the transport layer, typically TCP-IP, and rapidly becoming encrypted everywhere using "TLS".

The "Internet of Things" you can view of a section on the Pie-Chart which breaks down different uses for this underlying transport layer. Its not a new technology in itself, even if it is made possible by new technology (meaning vastly reduced costs).

Internet traffic today is vastly different to 10 years ago. Back then, internet was, to a large extent, humans reading individual web pages, and a little bit of video and shopping. Now, there is vastly more streaming video and music, people working from home, automated data collection - just to give a few ideas.

The term "IoT" is used to refer to a phase in the evolution of the internet.

Think of transport. We still have roads, but now in addition to walking, bikes, card and horses, we have (some) autonomous vehicles, "hoverboards", jet packs and drones. Would it be useful to have a term you can refer to transport innovations 2015-2025?

  • "Now, there is vastly more streaming video and music, people working from home" - neither of which I would classify as IoT (ymmv)
    – Mawg
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 9:29
  • Yes, those are past changes, IoT is more about things which have not become common. Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 9:30

The main objective of the IoT is to interconnect among themselves all the objects of the World. Then, here we have some differences with the traditional Internet. Besides, the IoT is composed of heterogeneous and ubiquitous objects, which can be Smart Objects, sensors, and actuators.

  1. The number of objects is huge. Here, we need an architecture that supports all the petitions in real-time, all the data of each object, facilitate the use of the IoT, and so on.
  2. In the IoT, we can interconnect each object with another object using different protocols because not every object has de same protocols and message system. Some objects are smart, others don't have enough computation, others are moving around the World, etc.
  3. The needed security is similar but different because the objects are heterogeneos. Here you have a study about it.

Then, the IoT is needed to solve some problems that have been created when we have searched to interconnect every object of the world, any type of object like watches, computers, cars, microcontrollers, and so on. Problems that in the traditional Internet was solved because the traditional Internet doesn't need to maintain a continued and so smart interconnection among the objects, objects that need more information and 'talk' with other objects.


IoT and Traditional Internet differ in concept, though they might not be as separate domain as you might think.

The most significant differences between IoT and "Traditional Internet" are:

How the content is generated?

In Traditional Internet the content is generated by humans, whereas in IoT content generation is mostly through machines.

How the content is consumed?

In Traditional Internet the content is consumed by request/response model i.e The client requests the server feeds. While in IoT, server pushes new data onto listening clients(Which can either be a human or another machine).

What the user expects?

In traditional internet user expects some kind of information which he/she requested from internet which again is generated by humans, while in IoT a user expects timely information and/or some timely action to be performed.

Finally It can be said Traditional Internet is the "Internet of People",sharing the knowledge held by humans, while IoT is when we include "Things" or "physical real time information" in our traditional internet.

Now, as you said we have already been using things like smart Meter, Remote meter, Smart appliance, VTS(vehicle Tracking System) etc, Yes we were and when these applications become popular and when people start realizing its potential, IoT is born and then we can have a dedicated effort in developing and improving these technologies.


In the traditional internet, at least one end-point is a human, using a browser, email, etc.

The Internet of Things consists of "Things" (devices) talking to each other.

It's as simple as that (as Google will tell you).

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    Google will soon reference this post as the answer to that question... Recursion... Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 8:48
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    I don't know about that, your IoT coffee machine has a human user, two servers back before the IoT could talk to each other without humans being involved.
    – daniel
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 13:39
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    The traditional internet consisted mostly of nodes that were either PCs with users and servers. The IoT consists of not only that, but also potentially every hardware device in your home like lamps, stoves, thermostats and any other device that was traditionally not a computer but could be computerized in some way. Just wait until we have "connected" walls and floors.... The terms have become rather mixed up like home automation including using cameras.
    – pcnate
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 13:43
  • "What is the meaning of the IoT environment?": It's a marketing buzzword (as commented by @Ghanima). So it will mean whatever the marketer has a use for. Usually it consists of somehow "smart" (also a marketing buzzword) devices which communicate between each other (and possibly also various unintended third parties) as opposed to "the internet" which laypeople perceive as humans communicating with humans or (slightly more technical view) at least one human communicating with a computer.
  • "So why do we need IoT?" It's not that IoT is in any way needed, but there are some technology improvements related to the above vague definition that are useful and/or sellable and if it's possible to tack "IoT" on it, that currently raises interest and so will be done.

It's useful to compare it to the "cloud". People used to have servers. Now they have "dedicated high security clouds". It's still the same thing.


They just wanna tell you with IoT (Internet of thing), that many devices which were previously not connected to the internet, or at least to an Local-Area-Network (LAN), will be connected in the future.

The internet stays the same, though the 'things' will participate in it.

That means that devices like you fridge will have an embedded little pc, like an rapsberry pi, for example. That is perhaps connected to some fridge-specific hardware for monitoring aspects or other sorts of things. And you can interact with it over an api, like with any server or other piece of hardware.


There's a great article on rtinsights.com which makes a good read. They state that:

The first and most grasped difference between the traditional Internet and the IoT is the identity of the content creation (as noted in Table 1 below). However, there are several other notable differences.

For example, the content in the traditional Internet is consumed by request; that is, one has to ask a query, issue a search or send a request for a web service in order to consume the content. On the contrary, in the IoT, the content is typically consumed through pushing the technology as a notification or triggering an action when a situation of interest is detected. In many cases, the consumption means combining data from different sources. This is true for the traditional Internet as well as the IoT.

In the traditional Internet, the connection is done through physical links between web pages. In the IoT, the combination of data is required for situation detection. This is manifested in the combining of data in the form of context-based event patterns in which some of the data determines the context and other determines the pattern itself.

From a consumer's perspective, in other words, one of the major differences is that on a traditional internet, you go to your browser and type in a google search or the name of a URL. On the other hand, with the IoT, the communication typically happens directly with a device, pushing you notifications when something happens that it believes you would want to know about.


On traditional internet:

  • Go to your browser, type a link

On the IoT:

  • Device communicates with other devices (generally automatically)
    • Reporting data (frequently autonomously)
  • I agree with all of this as a distinction. But it's kind of a fuzzy distinction, eh? Perhaps that's as it should be. I think there are 2 other closely-related characteristics that are discriminators: autonomy and function. IoT devices are autonomous in that they don't need the Internet to perform a useful function, and they have a function other than data delivery for human consumption.
    – Seamus
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 13:18

It's just a buzzword. "The Internet of Things" and "the traditional Internet" are the same Internet.

The difference is in the applications. When people talk about "the traditional Internet" they are talking about webpages and email. When people talk about "the Internet of Things" they are talking about smart fridges and so on.


Short answer They are two different things but the IoT uses the Internet. IoT identifies that field of IT (from embedded devices to content management systems and IoT platforms, the Internet itself and more generally communication protocols) where many many objects are connected together. Being the number very large and running on limited power these devices must be somehow controlled and managed properly requiring in some cases alternative rules of communication.

Longer answer The Internet is a network of computers and other machines where the rules for communication are defined by a series of protocols generally known with the name TCP/IP protocols (check out the TCP/IP layers and OSI layers to get a clearer idea).

The Internet Of Things is more a concept than something tangible which includes actually different areas in my opinion.

Basically as I saw it, the things are common objects that thanks to the new technologies can be controlled or can provide information remotely. Among all, the two factors that allow common objects to be equipped with micro-computers are electronic miniaturization and cheaper electronic components (compared to the past decades).

Internet because the communication happens through the Internet.

Nowadays basically you have many objects (also from everyday usage) that are connected to the Internet: each of them is a node of the IoT. Each node can be controlled remotely and/or can send its data to a central systems. Many web applications exist to control your device from the browser (Thingspeak, IFTTT, Amazon AWS IoT and others). Even these have become part of the IoT.

The Internet of Things is a very generic terms because it involves many fields that actually are very different. Examples of applications are:

  • domotics: for example switching on the heater from your office so that when you get back home the room is warm;
  • smart city: all the smart transportation, car sharing services, pollution monitoring, smart parking and much more;
  • smart agriculture: for example managing the irrigation according to the humidity of the field;
  • smart industry;
  • much much more.

The fact that many devices that compose the Internet of Things have power constraints (they sometimes must last years with a single battery) have made engineers readapt those TCP/IP protocols for the Internet of Things.

Just two examples:

  1. due the Internet Of Things the devices that needed in IP address have increased drastically, now the protocol used for the Network layer in the OSI layers is IPv6 (128 bits IP addresses) instead of IPv4 (32 bits IP addresses).
  2. Instead of the common WiFi the 6LoWPAN is used in the OSI Physical and Data Link layers because less energy consuming.
  3. For the OSI application layer MQTT is used instead of HTTP

This answer will not cover all but it will give you an idea (at least I hope so). It is a huge field it is impossible to be complete: try to do some research on your own and come back sharing your results here.

It is true though, as I have read in the comments that these terms are abused by companies, many times just to look cool (as maybe it is done with other terms such as Neural Network and Artificial Itelligence) while actually they don't do any IoT development.


It's just a phrase concocted to denote the massive connectivity that we're headed towards, and the relatively different nature of those connected devices.

Pre-IoT the bulk of connected devices were desktop/laptop computers.

Post-IoT it's handheld and streaming devices, sensors/sensor networks, and "small" devices (smaller referring to their scope of operations, not just size). In other words, anything that can "phone home" will make up the bulk of connections.

There's an implicit acknowledgement/hope that the new data streams will also allow smarter resource allocation and data analysis, e.g., the more that's known about the usage patterns of anything (water, electricity, traffic (foot, car, bike, ...), you name it) the smarter we (people, systems, ...) can be about their use.


In the IOT, each address corresponds to a thing in the real world. In the old internet, each address corresponds to a virtual location where a specific HTML can be experienced, bounded into a screen.

IOT brings us one step closer to the singularity, since it allows the exponential nature of digital Information Technology to become embedded within physical entities in the analog world, entraining their behavior into the rising exponent of technological evolution.

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    Welcome to the site. While interesting your elaboration about the technological evolution and the singularity does not help in differentiating between the traditional internet and the Internet of Things. Moreover, there are dozens of singularities you might be referring to and your answer leaves it to the reader to guess the one your talking about.
    – Helmar
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 23:01

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