What Is "The Internet of Things"? We Traveled 9,000 Miles to Find Out

With Apple and Google both pushing to become major players in the Internet of Things, the Fool goes on a 9,000-mile journey to explore the trend.

May 31, 2014 at 5:30PM

"Industrial Internet could add a sizable $10 [trillion]-$15 trillion to global GDP -- the size of today's U.S. economy."
-- General Electric

"We estimate the potential economic impact of the Internet of Things to be $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion per year by 2025."
-- McKinsey & Company

The numbers surrounding the "Internet of Things" are astonishing, and with each passing week more and more companies are planting their own flags on the emerging trend. 

Earlier this week, the Financial Times broke a story: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) planned to embrace the Internet of Things by creating a new app to control smart home devices. 

Apple wasn't the first large Silicon Valley company to embrace the trend. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) spent $3.2 billion to purchase Nest earlier this year in its own "smart home" play. Most of Silicon Valley is racing to reorient its marketing around the term, which is causing a buzz for everything Internet of Things-related. 

Yet while the hype around the Internet of Things is getting deafening, it's still an esoteric term for many investors. The most basic question investors want to know is, simply, "What is the Internet of Things?"

At its core, the Internet of Things is simply taking devices that previously weren't connected to our digital world and giving them connections to the Internet.

But that's an overly broad explanation for the far-reaching implications of a trend that promises everything from automating our homes to creating "smart cities." We wanted to provide a clearer look at what exactly the Internet of Things is and, even in the infanct stages of the trend, how it's already in play across the world around us. 

So, we wanted to make the Internet of Things real. We went to visit companies on the bleeding edge, inventing the future in places you might not expect. In the dead of winter, we flew to a place many would call crazy. We flew to the Arctic Circle and visited a company powering some of the devices we wear. Its Internet of Things category saw 1,425% sales growth in the past year, and the category expects another 300% growth in 2014.

We also visited a city that's being built from the ground up as a smart city. Along our journey, we'll travel 9,000 miles canvassing the Nordic region for innovation where you least expect it. 

So join us in the preceding video, as we dive into what the Internet of Things is, and how it can transform our world. 

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Eric Bleeker, CFA owns shares of Alphabet (A shares) and Apple. Rex Moore owns shares of Alphabet (A shares) and Alphabet (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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