Do you have a Google Home or Amazon Echo device in your house? Have you heard of smart locks and lights? Do you wear a Fitbit? All these are examples of the Internet of Things (IoT) that are now part of our everyday lives.
IoT has been the tech on everyone's lips in the last few decades. It brought a variety of innovations and has been growing over the years. As of 2022, there are almost twice as many devices connected to the Internet of Things as people in the world.
But what exactly are the real-life uses of IoT? And how far can it go? In this article, we'll cover the concept of IoT and explain how it works. Further, we'll include examples of IoT in action and the problems it could help us solve in the future.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
Kevin Ashton coined the term "Internet of Things" back in 1999. The concept refers to the network of objects somehow connected to the Internet. These objects include sensors, software, and other technologies. Further, they exchange data by connecting to devices and systems over the Internet. As a result, the gathered info can go through analyses and trigger specific actions.
We'll give you a couple of examples so you can understand what this looks like. It could be a sensor on a supermarket shelf that, when it realizes a product has run out, orders more of that product. Or a smart smoke alarm that alerts your phone in case it detects smoke or fire. In consequence, this ensures you know something is wrong even if you are away.
How does the Internet of Things work?
There are four components to an IoT system. These edges are Sensors or Devices, Connectivity, Data Processing, and User Interface (UI). First, the sensors or devices collect data. This data can come via a wearable device to track how fast you run or a smart camera to see if your house has intruders. This data then goes through the cloud—where connectivity comes in.
Once the data gets to the cloud, a piece of software processes it (for instance, to get your average running speed). Finally, the information produced by this product is available to the user through the UI. The UI can notify the user through an alert or message, or the user might check on the system themselves. Moreover, this may cause the user or the system to take action. For example, users might adjust their running speed goals for future workout sessions. Further, it might notify the police when it detects an intruder in the user's house.
Why is the Internet of Things important?
The Internet of Things has brought about many improvements to various areas. In this section, we'll go over a handful of IoT solutions that highlight its importance.
1.Decision-Making. The amount of data that IoT sensors can collect can help make more informed decisions.
2. Productivity. The IoT has brought about automation for a lot of tasks. This means human resources can focus on more complex tasks. As a result, there's a general rise in productivity.
3. Resources. The Internet of Things makes tracking and monitoring considerably faster and simpler. This leads to better use of resources and assets.
4. Safety. Tracking and monitoring also play a role in improving workplace safety. In this context, IoT solutions can help with scheduling maintenance. This solution is relevant to ensure operational safety and compliance with regulations.
5. Quality. All the benefits that stem from the Internet of Things lead to a better quality of life. This technology automates simple but time-consuming tasks and ensures safety in the workplace. Further, it optimizes resources and increases productivity and efficiency, among many other perks.
Where is the Internet of Things used?
The Internet of Things has a myriad of uses. This section will cover some of users' most popular everyday IoT applications. We'll also touch on some of the business issues that IoT solutions tackle.
1. Smart Homes
Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa are voice controllers or smart assistants. These devices allow users to control different aspects of their household. Uses include switching lights on and off, playing music, and checking the weather. Moreover, these also can control various appliances—for instance, air conditioning, alarms, and thermostats.
A wide array of wearables collect data and information about users. Their primary purpose involves health, fitness, and entertainment. These devices go from glucose trackers and asthma monitoring to virtual reality goggles. Not only are IoT wearables great gadgets, but they can be lifesavers.
3. Connected Cars
Connected or smart can optimize their operations and maintenance. They can also improve the comfort of passengers. With onboard sensors and connectivity, these can make driving safer and more enjoyable.
4. Security and Safety
We can thank IoT for advanced data communication in biometric security systems. Other IoT solutions include smart smoke alarms that send alerts to your phone. Also, there are smart locks and doorbell cams that you can manage remotely. If you are looking for examples, Marathon Kids is a great example of health tracking. Also, you can check FlashParking's smart parking solutions. Furthermore, the BSA is an excellent smart sensor to detect vehicle blind spots.
Various IoT applications help retailers track inventory and optimize the supply chain. For example, environmental sensors can ensure no issues within cold chains. Also, smart shelves with weighted sensors can send data to IoT platforms to check stocks. This tech sends alerts if a specific product is running low.
Examples of IoT financial solutions include smart cash points to cash vending machines. It has been a crucial aspect of online banking, fraud detection, and mobile payments. Further, it's relevant to blockchain-based smart contracts and virtual currencies.
We covered wearables in the previous section. Yet, there are many other IoT applications when it comes to healthcare. These include adding sensors for the accessible location of patient-assistance assets. Also, IoT helps to automate medication dispensers and trigger reminders for cleaning protocols.
The Internet of Things makes it easy to track production lines. As a result, it can detect the need for maintenance due to impending fail res. Also, IoT solutions can improve product quality and optimize resource allocation.
What Problems Can The Internet of Things (IoT) Solve?
We've reviewed several examples of IoT solutions, but they still have much-unrealized potential. Here are some IoT applications that could make our lives better in the future.
There are countless cities where traffic is a significant issue. In these locations, jams take considerable time out of people's day. IoT can potentially connect traffic signals, smartphones, vehicles, and cameras. All this data could prevent traffic jams. There is already a smaller-scale application of this type for ambulances in a city in India. The IoT app helps ambulances communicate with traffic signals. As a consequence, they can move faster during emergencies.
We all know how important energy conservation is right now. In this context, smart homes have great potential to help with this issue. With connected appliances, homeowners can track energy usage. Further, automatic sensors can switch devices off when not in use. Some of these features are already a reality. But IoT has a lot of promise for further development in this area.
Many developing countries' economies depend on agriculture and farming. Not only that, the potential shortage of food resources is an ongoing global concern. With population growth and climate change, solutions in this field are welcome. IoT applications that use predictive tech can be a powerful tool for this industry. With data on soil, rainfalls, and yields, farmers can plan for better results. Also, they can automate specific tasks. Besides, IoT can help increase efficiency in agricultural production processes. This includes early detection of diseases and saving water through intelligent irrigation systems.
Waste management is critical across the globe. While there are solutions related to bin monitoring, there's potential for much more. A possible solution is waste truck coordination. This application would reduce harmful emissions created by those trucks.
Internet of Things FAQs
Before we wrap up this article, we thought we'd answer some questions about the Internet of Things.
Amount of IoT Devices
As of 2022, there are over 14 billion connected devices. This figure is expected to reach anywhere between 25 billion and a whopping 75 billion by 2025!
Most Common IoT Devices
Smartwatches and voice controllers seem to be among the most popular IoT devices. Two areas where users tend to invest are video entertainment and home monitoring.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data
IoT and big data are inextricably connected. The number of IoT-connected devices is already considerable. Further, as we've seen, it is expected to grow over the next few years. This growth means more and more data collection. All this data must go through reading, processing, and transmission. Here is where Big Data comes in. It helps exploit these large amounts of data. Big data collects, stores, and analyzes the data provided by the Internet of Things. Also, it implements the reports of that analyzed data.
The Internet of Things has already made our lives easier in countless ways. What's more, it has the potential to improve our quality of life considerably. There seems to be no end to IoT applications, and we look forward to what solution comes next!