Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the Internet of Things seems to be everywhere. So much that some of them refer to it as Internet of Everything!
Wow! Trust the tech industry to come up with cute terms faster they can with actual products 🙂
There is a lot of hype on Internet of Things. Sure, it has inherent potential, but not all the glitzy apps and products are going to make it. (Read also: The Problem With The Internet Of Things – and How Can We Prevent it from Becoming a Mess)
There are a few like the connected gun, which sounds more like someone’s drunk a bit too much than a useful idea. Many of the stuff I read today on IoT (or IoE if you prefer), belong to this category.
But, make no mistake, there’s some real serious work going on to make IoT really productive, and most of these do not make it to the press. (Read also: Connected Analytics: Capturing the Value of the Internet of Everything)
So, while it is still early days, it still helps to get a sense of where the USEFUL Internet of Things is going.
Here’s my take on IoT applications/end uses that will start making a positive difference to many of us, and soon:
Fitness tracking systems, health signs monitoring such as blood pressure and pulse monitoring, assistance for elderly people by detecting their movements, monitoring of patients inside hospitals…
As Microsoft says, “With IoT, healthcare providers can reduce operational costs through predictive maintenance and real-time asset monitoring, and harness the full power of data across the entire continuum of care with analytics that generate valuable insights. With faster, better insights, providers can improve patient care, chronic disease management, hospital administration and supply chain efficiencies, and provide medical services to more people at reduced costs.”
A different perspective for IoT in healthcare is articulated here, where the author talks about IoT can assist in much more efficient monitoring and maintenance of healthcare equipment.
Product tracking and supply chain control, understanding customer preferences, smart product management and display.
As this ZDNet article based on its research says, “One finding from the research is that retail’s readiness for IoT lags behind other industries such as A&D or industrial. In part, that’s because these industries have already being practicing IoT for asset management or monitoring of inventory – they just did not have a cool name to label what they were doing. An airplane engine or locomotive manufactured by GE is a large piece of machinery that warrants having some connectivity, as opposed to a pair of Diesel denim jeans….However, retailers and their supply chains are ripe for adoption of certain uses of IoT — especially when it comes to the connected home, connected warehouse, connected truck, or even connected store shelf. The question becomes: What are the near term business cases for retailers? Where will they be able to create the business cases for IoT that will be funded and return a favorable ROI for their businesses? Retail and CPG supply chains have already tried their hands in what we are calling IoT 0.0 and 1.0 — bar codes and RFID. Will the third time be the charm?”
Here’s an interesting list of IoT solutions from Intel, that could provide you an idea of the way things are shaping up in this vertical.
Here’s also a brief white paper from SAP on CEO Perspectives for IoT in Retail.
And here’s some nice stuff from Cisco on the possibilities for IoT in retail.
Fleet tracking, location identification products in large places.
Here’s an interesting take on how IoT can revolutionize logistics of a specific sector, in this case the food industry, “For instance, food companies that use IoT-connected testing equipment can confirm food quality as it leaves the factory or warehouse. Fleet managers can then leverage the IoT to make sure temperature-sensitive, perishable goods don’t go bad in transit through sensor-enabled refrigeration systems. Any temperature fluctuations can trigger alerts that automatically adjust the truck’s refrigeration. If the system is not able to auto-correct, an alert can be sent to the food supplier, who can replace bad goods before they arrive at the customer’s dock. And by using an IoT-based fleet management solution to enable continual visibility into connected trucks, trucking managers can optimize routing and ensure on-time delivery of the new goods via an alternate vehicle. In the end, the customer receives quality goods on time and is never aware there was an issue. Plus, the sensor-enabled refrigeration system can send alerts to the manufacturer, pinpointing the exact part that broke down and facilitating faster replacement and fixes.”
Here are SAP’s perspectives on the use of IoT in logistics, and another interesting perspective “Tracking Everything Everywhere: How The Internet Of Things Is Changing The Logistics Industry“.
Manufacturing in specific and industrial productivity in general
Machine auto diagnosis for breakdown etc. (predictive maintenance), assets and inventory control, optimised temperature control in industrial processes, employee safety (see also: Three Industries that Could Gain Significantly from IoT)
According to O’Reilly’s David Stephenson, technology at GE and at similar manufacturers has resulted in innovations never before realized. “The Internet of Things promises to eliminate massive information gaps about real-time conditions on the factory floor that have made it impossible to fully optimize production and eliminate waste in the past,” he says.
IoT is also making the workplace safer for employees. Sine-Wave, a company that focuses on technological solutions for businesses, has created a customized IoT program that resulted in increased safety and communication in mines. According to their website, they designed a browser-based application that allows users to communicate with the workers, operators, and machines in the mine, as well as “see a real-time view of all activities underground [including] custom mapping of each mining operation.” By knowing what’s going on in the underground mines in real time, users can avoid safety hazards and respond to emergencies quickly.
Here are a few more perspectives on the use of IoT in manufacturing: Microsoft’s take, Cisco’s, Cognizant and from SAP.
Smart, intelligent and energy efficient homes
Building automation systems, energy and power monitoring and control. Include in this sector, other uses of IoT in the energy and utilities sectors overall
Here is a nice, phased approach for a smart home:
Phase 1 – RF-based Remote Control for Set-Top Box and CE, including internet connectivity
Phase 2 – Energy Management will latch on, other applications develop simultaneously
Phase 3 – Integrated environmental awareness, safe and secure: the Internet of Things
Farming and agriculture
Micro-climate control in greenhouses, optimized use of fertilizers and other inputs (water, pesticides) based on sensor data, study of weather conditions at a field level to optimize yields, monitoring for pests and other harmful entities. In animal farming, tracking and locating animals in large grazing areas.
Here’s a report that says agriculture is already benefitting a lot more from IoT than many other industries, especially through benefits in Productivity, Pest Control and Conservation.
Here’s another that provides insights on how IoT will benefit agriculture through climate control, food safety, logistics, crop monitoring and enhancing livestock farming efficiency.
Here are a bunch of useful research perspectives on the use of IoT in diverse agricultural aspects.
That’s indeed very satisfying!
Resource conservation in industrial and commercial sectors
Specially energy and water conservation domains will start benefitting significantly by IoT very soon.
By reducing the amount of energy and fuel needed to perform tasks and optimizing resource efficiencies, the IoT is expected to help reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 9.1 billion metric tons by 2020 (equivalent to 18.6% of global GHG emissions in 2011), says this article, referring to a report by AT&T and the Carbon War Room.
Automotive and transport management
Including intelligent traffic management systems, and toll-taking operations, congestion penalties, dynamic traffic control, and smart parking-space management. (see also: Hyundai Motors presents the future of smart cars)
As a specific example, IBM for instance is also working on traffic lights that detect when the approaching traffic is all coming from one direction, and change to green before the cars have to slow down, improving fuel economy.
Safety and security monitoring devices
Home alarm and home intrusion systems, baby and assisted living monitoring systems, smoke detectors, fire hydrants, cameras, sensor-equipped drawers and safes. Include in this too specific lifestyle technologies, especially in the form of wearables, that can start making a difference soon.
An interesting development in this context is the smart gun. Smart guns are one of the most well-known breakthroughs for law enforcement. A startup called Yardarm’s smart gun concept is equipped with an accelerometer, gyroscope, wireless GSM, and Bluetooth low energy to monitor and record data every time it is discharged. The technology appeals both to officer safety and transparency when officers use their weapons. The sensor and location features keep track of the gun’s position and exact timing when shots were fired, helping to remove some of the mystery when police use their weapons, and can also send automatic alerts notifying dispatchers and other officers exactly when and where to provide backup.
Internet of Things, Google Maps and GPS combos
I think could be an exciting mashup that could produce very interesting and useful sets of data points and results. This possibly does not belong to the rest of the list in terms of its immediate requirements, but you never know.
So, the above is my take on the domains where IoT will start making a credible and immediate impact.
What would be your list?
See also: Four Top IoT Stocks According to 24/7 Wall St
Internet of Things – Converging Technologies for a Smart Environment – a detailed EU guide
Cofounder & Director at EAI, a cleantech firm. Also cofounded Geeks.Gallery, along with my tech team who are developing some cool apps in the domains of cleantech and sustainable health.
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