The Internet was initially conceived as a way to transfer information from person to person. via computers. However, in recent times, there has been an emergence of a sector known as the Internet of Things, or IoT.
This refers to the process whereby information is transferred from appliance to appliance. The practical implications for this are vast as more and more physical objects become connected to our digital world. It means that we will have an unprecedented connection with our appliances and they will have an unprecedented connection with other appliances, which will ultimately make our lives easier.
It is anticipated that by the year 2020, there will be over 50 billion devices that are connected to the Internet.
Whilst most of our current experience lies with our smartphones as the conduit, the progress in this space will eventually see the phone as an unnecessary link – the devices and appliances will seamlessly connect with each other.
The basis of the Internet of Things revolution is sensors. Attaching sensors to both objects and people is bringing a greater array of options when it comes to tasks and information collection.
Industries that are experiencing the difference
The following are some already key sectors that sensors and the Internet of Things are already contributing to:
- Mining: Sensors detect levels of dangerous gases and in turn, can create the necessary alerts and even adjust ventilation levels and turn off mains.
- Energy: Sensors determine how much energy is being used in real time and can power adjustments to counteract this. Connections between light bulbs and smartphones allow users to control their lights for greater convenience and better power savings.
- Automotive: Sensors and beacons are implemented to manage traffic flows and even guide self-drive vehicles.
- Home: Door locks can be unlocked via Bluetooth on our smartphones, doorbells can detect faces and appliances can be turned on remotely. The connected home is sure to be one of the biggest benefits of the Internet of Things.
- Hospitality: Sensors can detect if occupants are inside a room, alerting housekeeping to manage when rooms are cleaned. Sensors can also gauge body heat and make appropriate adjustments to the air conditioning in rooms.
- Healthcare: Sensors can detect and monitor patients’ heart activity and send this information in real time. Another application is a connected pill box to ensure patients take their medications on time. The phenomenon of activity trackers is already in widespread use, as people count their steps, calories and monitor their activity each day with their bracelets that connect to their smartphones.
- Retail: Sensors on products and shelves can determine which products are popular and even help manage the end-to-end supply chain. Beacons can also be used to track shopper movements and behaviours within stores and malls. In fact, many malls are also using sensors to help shoppers identify available car parking spaces and accurately monitor the traffic flows each day.
As this revolution continues to gain momentum, more and more devices will be interconnected with each other and their human counterparts. This will create unparalleled opportunities to make everyday life more efficient and even make businesses more capable, no matter how large or small. 90% of executives agree that their businesses will benefit from the Internet of Things.
Eventually, the level of connectivity will be so great that we won’t need to connect or facilitate the connection of devices, whether it be manually through hardware or via a medium such as a smartphone. Technology will be fully integrated into the physical world.
The technology is presenting itself and the applications are evolving. Imagination is the only limitation as to how we can best utilise this connectedness to create efficiencies as well as make the world a safer and healthier place.