The Internet of Things or popularly referred to as IoT is a revolutionary concept which will make everyday objects into Internet-connected devices with exceptional abilities.
It is regarded as the next level of technological evolution where things; that is, machines, appliances and even devices fitted with tiny sensors will act on their own. The best part is they will also be capable of communicating and collaborating with other sensor-enabled devices.
Your connected car communicates with your home security system to open the door gates when the car is in near vicinity. The indoor lighting turns on when your car reaches the garage.
Home appliances like refrigerator, HVAC, microwave oven, etc. function or stop functioning automatically when they reach predefined parameters.
In other words, we are entering an era of smart devices that can do more than the functions they are meant for.
Facts that confirm an IoT-connected future
- IoT is not a new-age concept. Its discussion started way back in 1990s. The term “Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton who was part of a team that researched on how to link objects to the Internet using a RFID tag. The term was used by Kevin in a presentation he gave in 1999. The term has been in vogue since then.
- ATMs are considered to be the first kind of IoT devices. The first kind of ATMs went into operation in 1974.
- In 2008, a number of devices were inter-connected than human beings connected to the Internet.
- Gartner estimates at least 50 Billion devices to be connected to the Internet by 2020.
- Tech giants like Google and Samsung have already earmarked investments for R&D in IoT-enabled home appliances.
- Google has gained the upper hand in IoT developer by developing a self-driven car that steers using sensors and near-vicinity image capture.
- Apple Watches and Android Wearables are adding fuel to the growth of Internet-connected devices.
Why is IoT important? How will it make a difference?
IoT brings with a plethora of benefits; both economical and uneconomical. Its prime benefit is, it takes the guesswork and the resultant inaccuracies that plague manual processes.
Here are few industries where IoT will make a positive impact:
1. Intelligent Transport
IoT will hasten the flow of traffic through a combination of GPS and motion sensor systems thus helping vehicles to achieve higher fuel efficiency. Moreover, connected cars will also become better at diagnosing critical vehicle stats preventing possible accidents.
2. Smart Power Management
Smart electric grids that efficiently manage load transmission and distribution. This reduces the normal loss of power that is usually experienced from generation to transmission and distribution. Moreover, IoT can monitor the performance of each power grids and predict possible grids which might malfunction. Preventive maintenance can also be scheduled to reduce downtimes and to upkeep smart power management.
3. Smart Manufacturing
IoT can turnaround manufacturing operations by helping diagnose equipment issues well in advance. Sensors can be attached to equipment like boilers which when exceeded predefined parameters of pressure, temperature, volume, etc. will alert actuators to take preventive action.
Smart-warehouses which can alert near stock-out situations or prioritise maintenance schedules based on equipment health condition, etc. are also possibilities with IoT.
4. Smart Cities
According to McKinsey, the global think tank, 40% of the total value of cities can be unlocked by putting IoT systems to work. Smart cities can regulate pollution levels, put an end to wastage and maximize urban living pleasure through specific IoT systems.
For instance, traffic and public traffic systems can be integrated using IoT to provide commuters with an accurate timing based service. Smart weather systems can be developed to warn of possible weather downturns or calamities that can affect the good life in a city environment.
IoT has already established its presence in the global healthcare industry in the form of patient wearables, remote patient monitoring and real-time location services. Singapore is experimenting with the possibility of monitoring the health of their elderly citizens using patient wearables.
There are still more possibilities with IoT like predicting disease symptoms in elderly, ensuring personal hygiene standards, ensuring emergency medical assistance through sensor signals and so on.
IoT + Retail = A winning combo with great selling potential.
In fact, several retail brands are already toying with IoT applications to maximize customer engagement, loyalty and even brand presence.
Smart vending is one such concept. Sensors attached to vending machines alert when stocks are low, which products are sold the most and other customer behaviour that can be analyzed to improve service delivery.
In fact, as you are reading this post, Amazon is already selling goods through its smart store – the Amazon Go where customers do not wait to pay but bill using smart sensors connected to their smartphones.
7. Connected Cars
If you thought your car is smart because it has chips in it to maximize fuel efficiency, wait until you know what BMW, Audi and Volvo are doing with IoT technology. They are developing a whole new breed of smart connected cars that have a mind and brain of their own.
In fact, BMW’s Connected Drive is the first of kind of connected car that runs on the concept of IoT. each BMW car will have a SIM fitted into them that will turn the car into a communication console that can interact with other vehicles or ‘Things’ on the road. This will deliver a superior driving experience as well safe riding like never before.
In fact, there is much more to connected cars. We will have to wait and see what self-driven cars like that of Google are capable of doing.
To wrap it up
IoT was long regarded as the future. Well, that future just became present. Things that we thought were mere things, with the power of IoT will become smart things that are capable of doing tasks that otherwise require manual intervention.
IoT will make our daily lives a lot simpler, easier and definitely safer. What’s your take on the growing momentum of IoT? Let us know your opinions.