Internet of Things (IoT) is a term for when everyday ordinary objects are connected to the Internet via microchips. It's a simple concept with big implications for how we interact with the world, deal with the resulting mass of data, live our lives and...get the mail?

IoT can be something as complex as smart power grids or something as simple as - as evidenced by the object-hacking folks over at Make Magazine - getting push notifications every time a letter arrives. That's right, it's "You've Got Mail" for the real world, via push notifications for your iPhone.

The project uses a switch in the mailbox to sense whenever the door is opened using a switch connected to an Arduino, which is an open-source platform that makes it easy to connect hardware to a software solution, and vice versa. As Matt Richardson, the project's creator, points out, "it's very easy to adapt this project to whatever suits your needs."

If you're the code hacker type like I am, you can take Richardson's entire project, which is available on Google Code or in a Zip file, and go from there. The Arduino is connected to a PHP-enabled Web server, which handles the software side of sending out the push notification using an iPhone app called Prowl. Richardson explores just a couple of the possibilities:

There are a lot of great uses for this project. You could have push alerts delivered to your iPhone when you leave your garage door open, when someone opens your front gate, when the temperature drops below freezing, or when your home power usage exceeds a certain level. Whatever kind of switch or sensor you can hook up to your microprocessor can trigger a push alert. I'm eager to see how you decide to implement iPhone push alerts into your projects.

Not ones to hide behind the mystery of how to make something, the folks at Make Magazine also provided a nifty how-to video that we'll include here. Why leave the Internet of Things up to automakers and corporations, right?