Not too long ago if you wanted to turn your lights on or change the radio station or even the temperature in your home, you needed to get up from your chair and manually do it yourself. While that might sound scandalous today, it was the way things happened before the Internet of Things (IoT) transformed our homes and lives.
According to Security Today, this change has happened very rapidly – in 2018; there were 7 billion IoT devices globally. By 2019 that number had jumped to over 26 billion, and with 127 new devices being connected every second, the expectation is that by the end of 2020, there will be 31 billion devices online. IoT devices are all around us now, from huge manufacturing machines to light bulbs. They can be in our homes, vehicles, or workplaces, and the data they gather and provide can be used by organizations in a variety of different ways.
Some of the ways IoT devices are continuing to transform the world include:
- Smart Buildings – Help improve energy utilization and overall space use.
- Smart Cities – Drive improvement in how traffic flows and utility systems work.
- Smart Farming – IoT helps to enable remote farming for agriculture businesses.
- Smart Home – Home devices are already part of our experience, which will only continue to grow.
- Smart Business & Factory – Improved customer tracking and a reduction in downtime are just two of the ways IoT can help.
- Smart Healthcare – Help to understand patient health in new ways to drive a better way of diagnosing issues.
Smart buildings, supported by IoT, are the key to improving the quality of life and personal well-being while improving efficiency, reliability, and economic growth. Building maintenance used to require onsite resources to regulate power, temperature, and water use. For many organizations switching to IoT is a significant cost saving as the sensors let engineers manage multiple buildings remotely. Engineers can monitor critical systems and services in real-time and, in many cases, can perform maintenance while hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
A great example of this is Cisco Systems. Cisco has over 300 buildings worldwide, but the core functions of these buildings, heating, electricity, climate, and security are all controlled from four locations. The amount of money and time saved in travel alone for engineers cannot be discounted.
Buildings with IoT systems in place do not only save on maintenance costs. Energy consumption and utilization can be dramatically impacted by using sensors that detect motion and heat. These sensors automatically reduce lighting, temperature, helping businesses save thousands of dollars annually. It allows to minimize equipment runtime with maximized energy savings and helps to save the environment.
With the advent of 5G networks, smart cities are closer to reality than ever before. Smart cities can remove congestion from roads and make gridlock disappear. Smart cities can even help drivers find parking using apps that integrate with car parking sensors.
Smart cities can also help keep people safe and sound. By integrating sensors in the town, alerts can be sent to first responders whenever an emergency occurs and even foresee outcomes. Additional resources like hospitals and police can also be more operatively informed, helping save time and lives.
Smart farming and agriculture can improve the way we grow our crops and produce. With IoT sensors in place, soil moisture and nutrient levels can be monitored easily, helping remote managers decide whether fertilizer or other treatments are required. Livestock can similarly be managed with IoT sensors to track vital signs delivering traceability and through product information to owners. It helps to identify at-risk animals sooner, which is crucial in this market.
Smart home devices are already commonplace, with lights, thermostats, speakers, cameras, doorbells, locks, and smoke detectors having IoT capabilities. From a security perspective, in addition to cameras, doorbells, and locks, let you know when you have a visitor or package and can send alerts directly to your smartphone.
IoT-powered software makes it possible for you to automate your daily routine with a simple customized command. “Good morning” might turn on your bedroom lights, adjust the living room thermostat and open all of the window shades – simultaneously.
Smart Business and Factories
Businesses are set to see a radical change in the way they work and operate. IoT sensors impact the supply chain and help organizations track goods from the warehouse to the supermarket and the consumer. In a similar vein, retail environments are likewise influenced. IoT sensors can track real-time merchandise sales, letting businesses respond in a more timely fashion to changing trends.
IoT devices can influence maintenance schedules on the factory floor by monitoring individual components and providing remote troubleshooting capability. By keeping manufacturing lines running at peak capacity and minimizing downtime, companies can save tens of thousands of dollars annually.
With smart healthcare, IoT devices are set to positively impact the average people’s health and well-being globally. New sensors can monitor for patient-specific symptoms and automatically alert trained healthcare professionals when needed.
Sensors built into smart devices like smartwatches help individuals monitor their blood sugar, heart rate, sleep patterns, and more. By using wearables and other home monitoring equipment embedded with IoT, physicians can track patients’ adherence to treatment plans or any need for immediate medical attention. It saves lives and helps to live longer and healthier.
IoT devices are no longer cutting edge or new. They are a part of society and commonplace. The question is not whether they will be used, but rather, how they will be used. The existing use cases for IoT are only the beginning and where they will eventually end up is still unknown.
However, despite their pervasiveness, security concerns exist about IoT devices. For them to continue gaining in popularity over the coming years, these concerns need to be addressed. Manufacturers of IoT devices, as well as regulators, researchers, and businesses, need to come together to ensure appropriate action is taken to address this gap.
Education also needs to be a factor in the growth of IoT. Individuals need to understand the technology and what it is already capable of so they can consider new applications for the future.