The wave of connectivity had extended beyond the phones, laptops, and tablets and is permeating into our daily lives. With an explosion of connected devices in the market and a healthy adoption rate, we can safely assume that we are taking confident strides into the ‘connected life’ made possible by the IoT.
A report by Gartner suggests that by the year 2020, the number of connected devices across technologies will touch 2.6 billion. As we move towards an increasingly automated world, this technology will be used to improve the productivity and quality of life and industries alike. The IoT is poised to grow from a technological phenomenon to one with a more global and social impact, and the cogs are already turning in that direction. Things that we once saw only in sci-fi movies and Steven Spielberg specials are a reality today. Let’s take a look at how the IoT is already changing the world we live in.
IoT in manufacturing is ushering in the fourth Industrial revolution – Industry 4.0 that aims to make manufacturing smarter. Smart manufacturing involves the use of sensors that are retrofitted on existing manufacturing equipment to improve efficiency and performance. Siemens ‘ PLC manufacturing plant in Amberg, Germany, has implemented the principles of Industry 4.0 and has completely automated the production of their automation systems. Post this implementation, they witnessed a 99.99885 percent “perfect” production quality rate. Now that’s impressive!
The airline industry has seen massive adoption of the Internet of Things in order to increase operational efficiency and drive the age of ‘connected aviation’. Virgin Atlantic has every single component of its Boeing 787 attached to a wireless airplane network. These incredibly connected airplanes use IoT data to evaluate everything right from the airplane’s performance to issue identification. So, if a Virgin Atlantic jet reveals low-performance mid-flight, this information is related to the ground staff real-time. Thus, when the flight lands, the airport engineers are ready to solve the problem. Other airlines such as KLM, Qantas, Lufthansa, and Delta etc. are also using IoT to improve aircraft performance, discover new business insights, and maintain greater efficiency.
Airports such as Miami airport, London City airport, Helsinki Airport, amongst other, use IoT to track passengers, prevent bottlenecks and queues, offer personalized services to the customers, track assets and also deliver location-based services to the travellers.
- Water Management
One of the areas where IoT has made a tangible difference is in water management. Proper use and management of water have been a problem that many cities across the globe have been battling. IoT has been put to work in cities such as California and Bangalore in India to not only identify the cause of water shortage but also to identify avenues as to how water management can be optimised. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) employed IoT monitor and manage the complex water distribution system by creating an operational dashboard using IoT and realised that almost 45% of the water supplied by BWSSB is unaccounted. San Francisco employed smart meters to measure water consumption and intimates their customers when their water consumption exceeds the specified limit or if water is running continuously for 24 hours.
The retail industry has witnessed a huge adoption of IoT to boost their bottom line. IoT implementation in retail has been done to not only improve the supply chain or to create more engaging and tailored marketing campaigns, but also to make shopping a more interesting experience. Retailer Rebecca Minkoff created the ‘connected store’ using RIFD tags on each piece of clothing and used smart mirrors in the dressing rooms. The customers could try on the product, and also take a look at other looks, available colours and sizes without even leaving the dressing room.
Target has been using beacons across 50 stores to provide personalised offers and present their customers with hyperlocal content to make shopping more exciting for their shoppers. Ralph Lauren’s Polo Tech apparel, which is a smart workout shirt, monitors vital activities of the user on a real-time basis and enables ongoing health monitoring.
- Connected Energy
2016 saw us looking towards connected energy solutions to help us save energy. IoT products such as Google Nest, ecobee3 thermostat, the heating system Hive by British Gas have seen huge adoption to track and measure energy consumption. 46% of technology enthusiasts in Germany and 42% in the US already own a connected energy solution and save almost 72% on their monthly utility bills – that amounts to a USD $80 reduction in the monthly bill.
- Lighting Control
Moving beyond the smart lights of a connected smart home, smart lighting control can generate huge financial savings by controlling streetlights. Mayflower CMS successfully employed IoT to control and monitor an excess of 180,000 streetlights, bollards and signs in the UK and Ireland with its largest installation in Hampshire that has over 90,000 nodes. The Hampshire City Council has been able to reduce energy consumption by 21GW/hr per annum which is a reduction of 40% and has successfully reduced carbon emissions by approximately 4000 tons per year.
- Connected Healthcare
The global IoT healthcare market is expected to touch USD 160 billion by 2020. The last few years healthcare has witnessed wellness sensors to surgical robots to improve efficiencies and better patient outcomes. Ingestible sensors help measure if patients are taking their pills on time and helps medical practitioners manage their patients remotely. Barton Health, a 62-bed health system in rural Lake Tahoe, California, is one of the first users of the ingestible sensor by Proteus Discover, a Digital Medicine to help patients suffering from diseases of the central nervous centre such as schizophrenia and place the patient in the driver’s seat regarding their health management with the help of technology.
“When wireless is perfectly applied, the whole earth will be converted to a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of the distance.” – Nikolai Tesla
This famous statement by Nikolai Tesla predicts the invention of the smartphone at a time when the mere thought of such an advanced device was nothing but unimaginable. Take a closer look at the statement and you can see that Tesla foresaw the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT)… a world that becomes so connected that it becomes one ‘huge brain’.
What Tesla spoke of decades ago, we are experiencing today.