Internet of Things, commonly known by its abbreviated name IoT, is used to describe the numerous devices available globally that are capable of connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi or sensors. IoT is simply a vast network of devices with an internet connection. These devices are capable of gathering data for exchange and analysis.
Almost every household and office item have IoT capabilities including washing machines, refrigerators, phones, cars, watch amongst others. Machine and systems parts, including that of airplane engines and oil rigs, can also be connected to the internet.
A reduction in the price associated with Internet of Things will help to increase its accessibility. According to Gartner, in 2017, over 8 billion IoT devices were in active service – a 32% increase from 2016. Global expenditure on IoT was about $2 trillion. It is estimated that by 2020, about 22 billion IoT devices will be in use globally. A report by HIS, a global data and information service firm, indicates that 130 billion IoT devices will be available globally by 2030.
What is the Internet of Things?
Internet of Things provides a layer of digital intelligence that will improve on the “smartness” of the device. When a device possesses the capabilities of internet connectivity, then it starts bearing every attribute of being “smart,” as is the case with smartwatch, smartphone, or smart refrigerator.
Lisa Taylor, the head of IoT marketing at Ericsson, provides a vivid explanation of the internet of things. According to her, the internet of things is basically a network of devices with the ability to use software and internet connection to connect to each other and exchange data. IoT is used in my devices, including smart thermostats that are capable of figuring out the temperature you prefer to keep the house; an intelligent lock that can respond to the command received from a smartphone app; a smart toy that could help put the child to sleep. Larger equipment is not left out in the application of IoT as there are driverless cars, jet engines, and machine sensors in factories that applies the principle of machine-to-machine (M2M). These applications are related to Industrial Internet of Things or better still IoT.
In the past, IoT devices were not usually capable of internet connectivity. For example, there are innovative technologies developed at CES with the concept of Internet of Things that is comical and amazing at the same time, like connected diapers that alert you on occasion when it needs to change, and pillows that prevent your partners from snoring. However, the functions performed by IoT are not the only merits. Many predictions and insights can be derived from the data, allowing the necessary actions to be taken.
IoT and Big Data
Big data is a large amount of data gathered by smart devices connected to the internet. Predictive analysis helps to evaluate the best means by which a product can be marketed using the collected data. For years, many firms have been gathering data and have no idea how to apply it. The high value placed on data makes data science a lucrative job within the tech industry.
The estimations made by Cisco indicate that M2M connections with M2M connections will constitute about 50% of the total 27 billion devices and connections, and 5% of the global IP traffic will emanate from these devices by 2021.
Internet of Things and the Cloud
Internet of Things devices are capable of exchanging a large amount of data. That is useful for companies where the cloud is applied for data processing purposes. Cloud computing giants like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft provide these IoT services.
The genesis of the Internet of Things revolution?
The inclusion of sensors and intelligence within devices used in our everyday lives became a topic of discussion in the late 80s and 90s when bad fashion and good music was in vogue. The technology to lead the Internet of Things revolution was unavailable at this time. Hence, there was little progress made.
ZDNet’s Steve Ranger is quoted as saying that the introduction of RFID tags (low power chips capable of wireless communication), accessibility to broadband internet and wireless connection help in pushing the concept of IoT forward. The adoption of IPv6 has also played a significant role in improving IoT technology.
The phrase “Internet of Things” was coined by a British innovator in the field of technology, Kevin Ashton in 1999. However, it didn’t live up to its vision until a decade went by. Initially, the use of Internet of Things was only restricted to manufacturing plants and factories. These days, the use of IoT has diversified such that there are now smart homes equipped with smart security systems, AI-powered speakers, and IoT-enabled thermostats.
How can businesses benefit from IoT?
The applications of Internet of Things in business include the identification and analysis of issues on a remote basis, providing an insight as to when and where maintenance is required and ensuring that there is no deficiency in the production line whatsoever. Coincidentally, the company revenue is directly affected by these applications. Additionally, Internet of Things is evolving at a fast rate, and businesses are incorporating the use of IoT into its operation. The reliance of an enterprise on IoT is referred to as digital transformation.
According to the International Data Corp., it is projected that the utilities ($73 billion), transportation ($85 billion), and manufacturing ($189 billion) industries will take the bulk of IoT expenditure this year. In the same light, Taylor provides a brief overview of the potential of IoT; She believes that IoT can transform industries, and as part of the 4th industrial revolution, IoT is here to stay. She also mentions that IoT affects everything with an ability to connect to the internet, which makes IoT an ecosystem of ecosystems where competition plays a major role. Putting more perspective on IoT, she thinks that cooperation is highly needed when it comes to IoT, and the data collected by connected devices is of great value in the IoT sector.
Advantages of IoT for individuals?
Let’s assume you have a refrigerator with Internet of Things capabilities. A mobile app on a smartphone can give you a visual perspective of the fridge’s inside, even when you are the grocery store. With IoT light bulbs at home, a simple voice command can be used to switch on or off the lamp. IoT has limitless potentials.
Are there any security flaws in IoT?
A major disadvantage of Internet of Things is the frequent occurrence of information theft and other security issues. When a device is connected to the internet, there is an excellent chance of falling prey to hackers. As of late, consumers and businesses have been worried about the security risks and reduced privacy levels obtained from IoT applications. Almost everyone dislikes sharing personal information without due permission; however, personal data is gathered and evaluated when a customer registers for an app or gives up specific information to a smartwatch manufacturer.
Personal details of the occupants living in an apartment can be obtained from sensors in various devices available within the home. For instance, manufacturers are made aware of the happenings of sexual intercourse when both partners are wearing a smartwatch that tracks heart activity through real-time data.
According to a ZDNet article written by Steve Ranger, IoT links the digital space to the physical world. That implies that hacking into IoT-enabled devices have dire consequences that affect the real world. For instance, deceiving employees in a power station into making a rash decision is often the case when the sensors regulating temperature are hacked. A similar calamitous situation may happen when a driverless car is hacked.
How is IoT employed in certain smart cities and industry?
Iot for manufacturing
In M2M, otherwise referred to as Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things, tracking the functionalities of manufacturing equipment is often done using sensors and advanced analytics. With predictive analytics and maintenance, there is a less occurrence of downtime, which often results in loss of profit.
Factories having IoT sensors incorporated into their equipment helps to improve the productivity and efficiency of factory employees, especially technicians. An innovative application of IoT is demonstrated with GE Aviation, which uses Upskill’s Skylight industrial AR platform with Google Glass to increase efficiency and reduces maintenance errors.
At Hershey, big data, machine learning, and cloud computing helped to control the production at manufacturing plants and prevent the loss of $500,000 in production for every 1% efficiency increase.
IoT for smart cities
Gartner reports that smart cities will have at least 2.3 billion connected items this year. A report by Navigant Research indicates that the global market for smart city solutions and services was worth $36.58 billion, and about $88.7 billion will be made by 2025.
Many devices are IoT-enabled within smart cities, including sensors within parking lots to inform drivers about the availability of a free parking space when connected to a mobile app, video cameras installed within smart streetlights, gunshot detection devices, and weather sensors. The incorporation of IoT solutions within smart cities lowers the cost of operations and increases energy efficiency.
IOT for utilities
Many companies require an effective means to meet up with the demand for water and energy. According to the International Energy Agency, it is projected that the global energy demand will rise by 28% in 2040.
An Internet of Things solution in managing the consumption of energy and water is achieved with smart meters that connect to a smart energy grid to ensure that energy flow is regulated effectively. Smart water sensors are used in monitoring the quality, temperature, pressure, and consumption of water. The data obtained via this means undergoes analysis and subsequently provides an insight into water usage and how this is effectively managed. Furthermore, there exist water leak detectors that identify leaks in pipes; consequently, resulting in water wastage.
IOT for transportation
Gartner reports that 250,000 million IoT-enabled vehicles will be in use by 2020.
The installation of IoT in a vehicle provides remote monitoring and data analysis functions, which have a positive influence on transportation and logistics. Businesses use Internet of Things in terms of predictive analytics to solve problems before they arise in the case of a breakdown; information on better delivery routes are also provided, courtesy of IoT. On the other hand, individuals can link their IoT-enabled vehicles to their smartphones and homes for a seamless experience.
IOT for retail
Global Market Insights Inc., predicts that the retail market for IoT devices will exceed $30 billion by 2024. Information on the shopping experience of customers can be shared with retailers via video cameras, smart shelves, and beacons available within the retail store. Customers are also provided with shopping assistance from mobile apps and digital kiosks capable of delivering a personalized experience. Inventory tracking is better supplied with smart shelves.
The data gathered by sensors brings into perspective consumer preferences and are subsequently used for decision-making as concerns marketing by the retailer. The data collected by IoT-enabled devices help retail businesses in assigning staff to areas in great need with a resulting optimization in operational efficiency.
IoT for healthcare
In a healthcare setting, Internet of Things is beneficial to medical care and management, the maintenance of medical equipment, and hospital operations. IoT cloud platform has been in use by many healthcare organizations for monitoring the purchase and use of medical supplies and pharmaceutics. Room temperature and the frequency of the patient’s movement while on a bed can be assessed by IoT sensors. For patients who are not within the hospital environs, wearable sensors monitor the patient’s vital signs and alert the doctor in the case of an emergency.
IoT for smart homes
Daily, the number of inventions that are IoT-enabled for use in the smart home is growing. Almost every household item has become IoT-enabled, including smart refrigerators, smart thermostats, smart light bulbs, and smart speakers like the AI-enabled voice assistants from Google, Amazon, and Apple.
A home security system to which a layer of IoT has been included can monitor visitors on a 24/7 basis. Additionally, Internet of Things allows the possibility of locking the door from a remote location. A smart home is considered safer for the elderly than a conventionally furnished home as teenagers can run to their aid when they get ill or injured. A CSG article titled The Future of the Digital Experience: IoT Edition report that 23% of consumers are users of smart home devices, and 36% of these users are only trying out IoT applications.
What are the in-demand IoT jobs?
Billions of IoT-enabled devices are available today, and greater accessibility to Internet of Things in the coming years is no fool’s tale. As the subject of IoT evolves, it becomes a profitable venture to involve in this field. Furthermore, there is a higher budget on IoT, more privacy issues, and more jobs for professionals skilled in deploying and managing connected networks.
IoT jobs fall under three major categories:
- Careers with a higher concentration on technologies involved in developing IoT projects: This includes careers that specialize in the software, hardware, and network used in building and managing IoT application such as IoT analyst, IoT software developer, IoT solution architect, IoT app developer, machine learning developer/designer/engineer or IoT software engineer.
- Careers with a significant focus on big data and its analysis: Data engineer, database architect, business intelligence analyst, data scientists, and data analyst fall under this job category.
- Careers that focus on IoT security: The major responsibility assigned to this job category is to ensure that network and devices are devoid of privacy concerns. Security engineers, security analysts, security specialists, security architects, security management specialists, and infrastructure engineers are jobs one could take under this category.
The future of Internet of Things?
The evolution of the IoT field will keep going forward, and affordability is assured as more IoT-enabled devices become available. The creator of the term “Internet of things” provides a vivid description of what IoT’s future looks like.
At LiveWorx, Ashton brings to light the current situation of Internet of Things and its potentiality. He believes that the Internet of Things doesn’t have the potential to progress linearly. Many IoT applications are introduced every year, with more value-added to IoT technology. He also mentions that IoT being present for 17 years doesn’t necessarily mean a 17% completion level. His outlook on IoT application shows that manufacturing processes, robotics, transportation systems will see more of IoT in the nearest future.
Recently, a bulk of the attention has been drawn towards smart homes. However, Ashton insists that more focus should be placed on self-driving cars as it will radically change the way we live.
Taylor from the telecommunication giant, Ericsson, brings IoT’s future into perspective when she says that connection to 5G is an expectation for the coming months. She mentions that interactions with their customers indicate that IoT and 5G cannot be discussed separately, which was the case a year ago. The emergence and growth of 5G technology will see the application of networks and distributed computing to solve complex issues. She believes that it is never too premature to begin by defining the use cases where IoT has a higher potential value.