Internet of Things

June 24th, 2015

What is the “Internet of Things” (IoT)?

Do you keep hearing about the Internet of Things and want to know what the fuss is all about?

Well you are not alone, the “Internet of Things” or IoT is becoming more widely discussed, due to the increase of broadband internet usage, and more and more devices that are wifi enabled and have integrated sensors, combined with the explosion of smartphone usage and decreasing technology costs, all of these factors are paving the way for the “Internet of Things”.

So what is the Internet of things?

To put it simply it is the concept of connecting devices that can be turned on or off, to the Internet and/or with each other. The device could be a smart phone, dish washer, office air conditioning, home theatre system, lights, water pump, pace maker, car, transformer at a power station, pretty much any piece of technology that has an on and off switch, and has internet connectivity can be a part of the Internet of Things.

Gartner says there will be 26 billion connected devices by 2020. Cisco says there will be 50 billion, Intel says it will be 200 billion, and the IDC says 212 billion. Regardless of the number, we are looking at a lot of connected devices.

Why should I care about it?

A bunch of devices are connected and can talk to each other, I bet you are saying so what? The excitement about the internet of things is based around the infinite applications of all that additional connectivity. Being able to control and monitor devices remotely, whether we like it or not will be an integral part of our future lives. It could be something as simple as turning the central heating on or off at your house, checking your surveillance cameras at home or work, opening and closing door locks, your car could be integrated with your work calendar, if you are stuck in traffic your car can determine that you are going to be late for your meeting and automatically email or SMS who you are meeting with.

The applications for business are also quite exciting, regardless of if your business is in manufacturing, engineering, logistics, finance or IT, software can be implemented to monitor, track and recommend a course of action based on any number of conditions, eg. for a third party logistics company that specialises in refrigerated transport, sensors can be fitted to all boxes to check temperature, if boxes have been dropped or mishandled, if the trucks fridge were to fail, the driver and dispatch could be notified, the nearest depot or cold storage facility can be found and alerted that there is an incoming delivery, the customer can be automatically notified that there has been an issue, and the supplier of the goods can track the temperature of their products to ensure that they haven’t been damaged, preventing any unnecessary warranty claims.

The IOT will provide us with unprecedented control of process, and access to data, allowing us to gather information on a multitude of different processes, environmental factors, performance metrics and the list goes on, which will then make analytics and business intelligence even more important.

There is still quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the Internet of Things, if all of this technology and integration is going to be helpful or harmful, if it going to enhance or hinder our lives, but what is for sure there is a lot of exciting change on the horizon whether we like it or not.