What are IoT sensors and why are they a good investment

What are IoT sensors, and why are they a good investment?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is everywhere, from your toothbrush to satellites, and IoT sensors use this connectivity to help companies reach their full potential. Accurate measurements of processes and remote IoT monitoring enable maximized systems performance, limit expenses, and reduce CO2 emissions.

IoT sensors are the backbone of the Internet of Things. But what is IoT really? It is a network of physical objects embedded with technology to stay connected with each other or monitor the surrounding environment.

IoT devices are usually part of a vast IoT architecture connected via the internet. IoT applications are many, such as environmental monitoring and control, predictive maintenance, industrial automation, energy conservation, health monitoring, fire detection, and much more.


  1. What are IoT sensors?
  2. How do IoT sensors work?
  3. Why are IoT sensors so useful?
  4. 11 common IoT sensor types
  5. Examples of how IoT sensors are used
  6. Why are IoT sensors a good investment for your company?

What are IoT sensors?

IoT sensors are electronic devices that can measure, monitor, and transmit data. They are internet-connected and usually remotely controlled. In many cases, IoT sensors are wireless and battery-powered. Most commonly, IoT sensors are used to monitor processes, activities, or environments.

IoT sensors collect data from vibrations, rotations, pressure, humidity, temperature, etc., and transfer info remotely to central databases for processing. This info enables companies to make informed decisions about how they operate their business.

Think of IoT as a living organism, like your body. The sensors are the nerve cells of IoT. They sense the physical state of their surroundings, communicate with each other, and send data to «the brain», which would be an IoT monitoring device, like a smartphone app.

Nerve cells are also called neurons, which is why we call our devices neuron sensors.

How do IoT sensors work?

IoT sensors operate by combining five different processes: Data collection, connectivity, storage, analysis, and reporting. Remember our nerve cell analogy? These five processes effectively turn the IoT sensors into a digital nervous system.

Data collection

The IoT sensors can collect all kinds of data, like pressure, humidity, rotations, temperature, connectivity, and much more. The IoT monitoring typically recurs every three seconds, with reports sent every other minute.


Connectivity makes IoT sensors incredibly useful since it allows for remote monitoring and distribution of information across networks. You can collect data from any number of devices and send it to the cloud for storage or analysis.

Data storage

Data storage is an essential feature of IoT monitoring since the sensors collect data continuously. The storage size is rarely large, but the amount of information is considerable and enables comprehensive process and system analysis.


Analysis of data collected by IoT sensors is crucial to improve business performance. By interpreting large amounts of raw data, you get meaningful insights that help you adjust systems and processes to increase efficiency.


In this last step, useful data or its alarming state is sent to a smartphone, computer, SCADA, ERP, or CMMS to inform or alert the right person about the insight discovered by the sensors.

Why are IoT sensors so useful?

IoT sensors make consumption monitoring, performance monitoring, and risk prediction more proficient. In addition, IoT monitoring promotes efficiency by enabling remote control and constant surveillance of vital operations.

Applying IoT sensors ensures that your systems, machines, and processes operate at maximum capacity and optimal performance. Simultaneously, you can keep track of equipment and strategically employ maintenance to avoid production standstills.

IoT sensors function like nerve cells; they signal when you need to be careful and when it is safe to push your company harder. To clarify this, let’s consider a real-life example from one of our customers, a planing mill.

Example of performance enhancement by IoT monitoring of sawblade heat

In planing mills, you need to watch out for sawblade overheating. An overheated blade might lose tension and need replacement. The price of blade replacement isn’t all that much, but the standstill in production can be detrimental to the business.

To avoid a production standstill, our planing mill customer used its blade carefully to keep it from overheating. However, when applying IoT sensors to monitor the blade heat, they realized that it could be pushed much harder without overheating.

By IoT monitoring, planing mills know how hard to push the blades without risking overheating, thereby increasing their performance considerably. At the same time, they can plan maintenance when the factory is closed to avoid any standstills.


Neuron Infrared 380

The Neuron Infrared 380 sensor measures surface temperature on the object it is directed towards. It is designed for industrial temperature measurements, capable of measuring up to 380°C.

10 common IoT sensor types

IoT sensors can practically monitor anything, and the applications are endless. During the Covid-19 pandemic, industry digitization accelerated to promote remote work and support social distancing.

IoT applications can support much more. By digitizing industry processes, remote control improves performance efficiency, risk management, and damage control. Here are the most common IoT sensor types El-Watch supplies to various industries:

1. Air temperature sensor

Air temperature sensors typically monitor the temperature in rooms, buildings, refrigerators, freezers, and fuse boxes. El-Watch Neuron Temperature IP21 product sheet

2. Surface temperature sensor

Typical applications of surface temperature sensors are overheating detection and prevention in cables, water heaters, fans, pumps, motors, machines, and other equipment. El-Watch Neuron Temperature IP67 product sheet


Neuron Temperature IP67

The Neuron Temperature IP67 is a small and compact sensor for measuring temperature and suited for a wide range of applications. 

3. Liquid temperature sensor

These sensors typically monitor the liquid temperature in pipes, cooling liquids in transformers, and other cooling fluids. El-Watch PT 100 Process Connection product sheet

4. Humidity sensor

Humidity sensors typically monitor closed environments, such as industrial production facilities, storage spaces, greenhouses, transformer stations, etc. El-Watch Neuron Humidity product sheet


Neuron Humidity

The Humidity sensor measures relative humidity in the air. In addition it measures the ambient temperature. Measuring frequency is twice a minute, and data is delivered wirelessly (868 MHz) through the Neuron gateway and directly online. 

5. Pressure sensor

Typically, pressure sensors monitor liquid levels and water pressure in waterworks, pumping stations, and industrial processes. El-Watch Neuron Gauge Pressure product sheet

6. Vibration sensor

The vibration sensors are used for anomaly detection, predictive maintenance, machine optimization, and structural health monitoring. El-Watch Neuron Vibration product sheet

7. Non-contact temperature sensor (IR temperature sensor)

Non-contact temperature sensors monitor the temperature of rotating machinery like planing mill saw blades. El-Watch Neuron IR Temp product sheet

8. Water sensor

Typical uses of water sensors/detectors are to monitor for liquid or water leakage. It is commonly used in schools, warehouses, hotel pumping stations, residential buildings, etc. El-Watch Neuron Water Detector product sheet

9. Dry contact sensor

Dry contact sensors monitor contact between two connection points. This is useful when you need to log machine/equipment uptime, motor/overvoltage protection, monitoring valve/switch positions, etc. El-Watch Neuron Dry Contact product sheet

10. Open/closed sensor

These small magnetic sensors monitor and count changes in positions. Uses include checking traffic in doors, windows, industry gates, or other mechanical appliances that are open or closed. El-Watch Neuron Open/Closed product sheet


Neuron Open/Closed sensor

The Neuron Open/Closed is a small and compact magnetic sensor suited to monitor status of doors, windows and gates among others. 

Examples of how IoT sensors are used

El-Watch’s wireless sensors are used in many industries. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg of IoT monitoring in the world around us. Here are a handful of IoT applications to illustrate the endless capabilities, functions, and uses.

Product brochure

Find the perfect sensor solution

We offer over 50 different sensor types. Explore the possibilities in our product brochure.

Industrial IoT application

The food industry benefits greatly from IoT monitoring. The criteria for keeping fresh and frozen foods are strict. Not only must food handling and temperatures always follow food safety regulations, but governments also require documentation of such.

Installing IoT sensors in supermarkets, restaurant freezers, or slaughterhouses allows the system to measure temperature and humidity every 30 seconds and store reports every second minute. The app immediately displays any irregularities. Key advantages include lowered energy consumption and reduced food waste.

IoT sensors in healthcare

You might have guessed that IoT sensors can monitor patients’ vital signs. Through smartphones and watches, many of us already keep tabs on our heart, pulse, and body temperature.

But IoT in healthcare is a lot more elaborate and dramatically affects efficiency. One field that was ushered forth by the global Covid-19 pandemic was high-quality remote healthcare.

By connecting medical devices and healthcare professionals via IoT, many benefits have come to light. Increased operational efficiency, enhanced accessibility of services, improved patient safety, and reduced healthcare costs are key gains from IoT implementation in the healthcare industry.

Smart sensors in agriculture

Farmers use IoT sensors to collect data about water usage, soil quality, humidity, temperature, and light levels. This promotes efficient plant growth and prevents the waste of resources.

Additionally, smart sensors can monitor crop environments, like water quality, the presence of pests or diseases, and wind speeds/direction. This enables farmers to act faster when unforeseen natural changes occur.

Smart sensors gauge the health of plants and crops in real-time. This allows cultivators to make informed decisions about irrigation or fertilizer use based on environmental data from each plant’s location.

Furthermore, the ability to track crop information can improve food safety. By data collection, you can detect crops contaminated by pathogens such as E-coli or Salmonella before harvest (or at least within a few days).

The Internet of Things and smart cities

So-called «smart cities» use technology to improve the quality of life for their populace.
Smart cities use IoT sensors to monitor traffic flow, pollution levels, and water consumption. It also detects fires, water leakage, or floods before they become widespread problems.

IoT-powered smart cities aim to improve public safety, reduce traffic congestion, and lower energy consumption. Smart cities also promote eco-friendly, sustainable environments and remote delivery of healthcare services to citizens.

Smart cities get smarter with technological advancement, and IoT sensors are integral to this. Electronic biosensors and chemical and smart grid sensors are pivotal «nerve cells» in smart cities. These «nervous systems» expand by the minute.

Why are IoT sensors a good investment for your company?

The most apparent benefit of IoT monitoring is that it enables remote management of complex systems – even smaller operations. IoT sensors can provide detailed information on machinery’s function and whether it runs efficiently every minute.

This enables you to act before costly breakdowns occur, prolonging your system longevity while saving money on maintenance. Simultaneously, it maps how hard you can push your machinery and equipment without the risk of breakdown, thus increasing performance.

Moreover, IoT monitoring is pivotal in businesses’ digital transformation. Such shifts result in better resource allocation and improved workforce competency, which promote efficiency and lower production costs.

Finally, IoT enables strategic traffic management, promotes efficient travel, and reduces emissions. UPC saves millions of dollars annually this way by identifying the shortest, most fuel-efficient routes.

Takeaway about IoT sensors

The Internet of Things (IoT) quickly becomes more widespread and connects devices to make them more functional. IoT sensors are the nerve cells, aka neurons, that make it all happen. They gather the information needed to improve all system processes.

IoT is beneficial for measuring, monitoring, and controlling many devices, equipment, and processes in the industry sector. This allows for improved performance, predictive maintenance, greater sustainability, and better allocation of resources.

If you liked this article, you’ll find many interesting ones on our webpage. How about this one, about how wireless sensors enable a sustainable manufacturing industry?

Ready to try wireless sensors?

Please contact our Sales Manager for some good advice and a nice sensor- chat.


IEEE: Intelligent IoT Sensors: Types, Functions, and Classification
Harvard Business School: Digital Transformation: A New Roadmap for Success
International Journal of Health Geographics: On the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, and the WHO Healthy Cities
Journal of Healthcare Engineering: IoT-Based Applications in Healthcare Devices
ResearchGate: Smart Sensors: Analysis of Different Types of IoT Sensors
Science Direct: Improving Data Quality of Low-cost IoT Sensors in Environmental Monitoring Networks Using Data Fusion and Machine Learning Approach
TechTarget: Use cases and benefits of smart sensors for IoT
Verizon: IoT and society: Emerging truths and effects in daily life

FAQ on IoT Sensors

What is the difference between IoT devices and sensors?

IoT devices are connected objects that collect and exchange data over the Internet. They can include various components, such as sensors, actuators, and processors. Sensors within IoT devices specifically measure physical parameters (like temperature, humidity, or motion) and send this data to the device for processing and communication.

How many IoT sensors are there?

The number of IoT sensors is vast and growing, with more than 15 billion devices already in use across various applications. These sensors are embedded in a wide range of systems, including smart homes, industrial machinery, healthcare devices, and environmental monitoring equipment.

What are the most commonly used sensors in IoT?

The most commonly used sensors in IoT include temperature sensors, humidity sensors, pressure sensors, proximity sensors, light sensors, motion sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and gas sensors. These sensors are essential for applications in smart homes, industrial automation, healthcare, and environmental monitoring.

How many IoT devices will there be in 2025?

Projections indicate there will be 55.7 billion connected IoT devices globally by 2025. Advancements in technology, increased connectivity, and the rising adoption of IoT solutions across various industries drive this rapid growth.

Does IoT have a future?

Yes, IoT has a promising future. As technology continues to advance, IoT will play an increasingly significant role in enhancing efficiency, improving safety, and enabling new services and business models across multiple sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and smart cities.

How do IoT sensors communicate data?

IoT sensors communicate data using various wireless communication protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, LoRaWAN, and cellular networks. These protocols enable sensors to transmit data to central hubs, cloud platforms, or other connected devices for analysis and decision-making.

What are the security challenges associated with IoT sensors?

IoT sensors face several security challenges, including data breaches, unauthorized access, and cyber-attacks. Ensuring their security involves implementing robust encryption, secure communication protocols, regular software updates, and strong authentication mechanisms to protect sensitive data and prevent malicious activities.

How do IoT sensors contribute to smart cities?

IoT sensors contribute to smart cities by enabling real-time monitoring and management of urban infrastructure and services. They help optimize traffic flow, monitor air quality, manage waste, enhance public safety, and improve energy efficiency, leading to more sustainable and livable urban environments.

What is the role of IoT sensors in predictive maintenance?

In predictive maintenance, IoT sensors play a crucial role by continuously monitoring the condition of equipment and machinery. They collect data on parameters such as vibration, temperature, and pressure, allowing predictive algorithms to identify potential issues before they lead to failures, thus reducing downtime and maintenance costs.

How can IoT sensors improve healthcare?

IoT sensors improve healthcare by enabling remote patient monitoring, real-time health tracking, and data collection for personalized treatment. They can monitor vital signs, detect anomalies, and send alerts to healthcare providers, enhancing patient care, improving outcomes, and reducing the burden on healthcare facilities.


Further reading