28 Oct The Internet of Everything
The internet of things is one of the hottest emerging technologies the world has ever seen and it promises to completely revolutionize the way we live and do businesses. The internet of things is basically the existing network of physical devices that are capable of gathering data and communicating through the internet infrastructure and other communication technologies. The technology, which is technically the internet of everything, now encompasses even the most common of objects that are all around us. This includes items such as appliances, vehicles, gadgets, and even implants. As long as an object is capable of sending and receiving data it is considered part of the IoT ecosystem. The data that is collected by these “things” can be gathered by a multitude of add-on technologies such as small electronics, microprocessors, sensors, advanced software, actuators, and communication systems.
The ability of everyday objects to exchange data with one another is creating limitless opportunities for direct integration of physical things into computer-based systems. Being able to keep track of different parameters and factors that are occurring in the real world will result in increased efficiency and autonomy of everyday objects. Due to this type of integration, there is now a lesser need for human intervention. With everything now being able to “sense” their surroundings, users won’t have to manually “tell” these objects what is exactly happening around them.
A good example of this type of autonomy is smart lighting systems. A light bulb that is equipped with a multitude of sensors can now determine the optimal times that it needs to be turned on. An embedded photovoltaic sensor for example can be utilized by the smart light bulb to detect if there is ample ambient lighting in any given room. It can then automatically turn itself on at night or if it is needed. A motion sensor can also give the same lighting system the ability to detect if there is someone in the room and if it needs to turn on for that person. If the lighting system is capable of communication, it can also “talk” with a user’s smartphone or other gadgets to detect its user’s behavior and habits. All of these technologies will result in a much more efficient lighting system that is also able to conserve a lot of energy. By simply being able to determine when it is not needed, smart lighting systems can turn themselves off automatically.
It is currently estimated that there are currently more than 8.4 billion IoT devices that are being used today. By 2020, it is expected that there will be more than 30 billion devices that will be in active use. Majority of these devices will be utilized by the manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and utilities industries. All of these industries are estimated to spend more than $40 billion each to integrate technologies using the Internet of Everything into their different platforms, services, and systems. As of the moment, industrial products are leading the industry when it comes to the early adoption of the Internet of Things technologies. This is expected to increase even further in the coming months with more companies now spending their capital to upgrade their current systems.
There are of course a lot of advantages with integrating this new technology into the different industries, which will include increased productivity, efficiency, and cost-savings. A logistics company for example can integrate IoT technologies into their fleet vehicles to dramatically reduce their delivery times. Fleet vehicles, ships, and airplanes equipped with GPS sensors can easily be tracked by their operators in real-time. By using traffic data gathered by different IoT technology now being used by large cities and countries, operators can formulate the quickest route for any given destination. Companies that transport perishable goods can embed temperature sensors into their refrigerated vehicles in order to constantly keep track of the condition of their cargo. Companies can also now quickly react if there will be a problem with one of their units through the use of different IoT technologies.
Preventive maintenance is also one of the biggest game changers when it comes to the Internet of Everything. Vehicles and other machineries equipped with these devices can now automatically track their own conditions. These equipments can keep tabs on each of their components through the use of different sensors. The data that is gathered can then be used to inform its users if a specific component needs to be serviced or changed. This in turn will prevent catastrophic failure, which would likely result in large losses for companies. A factory with a problematic production line caused by damaged equipment could stand to lose millions of dollars. However, with the use of IoT technology, companies can prevent this from ever happening in the first place. Aside from providing preventive maintenance benefits, companies can also take advantage of the data being gathered by the different IoT devices to increase their productivity and efficiency. By being able to analyze the different data sets, companies can make quick and rapid changes to their production line in order to ensure that their systems are running at their most optimal levels. Having access to live data will allow these companies to formulate strategies, which will in turn result in increased production and better product quality overall.
As reported by Forbes, Harley Davidson recently upgraded their production line to include different IoT system. The upgrade proved to be a very good decision for the company as it yielded very surprising results. The motorcycle manufacturer reportedly reduced its build-to-order cycle by a factor of 36, which resulted in an overall profit increase of about 3 to 4 percent. This was all achieved by shifting their production plant to a fully IoT-enabled production system. This is of course just one example of how the Internet of Everything has managed to change the way we do our business.
While majority of the early adoption of the Internet of Things has been within the industrial sector, the commercial markets have also now started to make a big impact. Companies such as Samsung, Qualcomm, LG, and Intel have invested billions of dollars in developing different IoT technologies. For a start, these companies have been busy developing their high-speed wireless networks, which will essentially be the key growth catalyst for the technology moving forward.
Having the right equipment and devices that will enable “things” to better communication with each other will be the biggest factor. These companies are constantly churning out new technologies that will improve upon the currently available devices in the market. Patents for better microprocessors, sensors, communication chips, and other devices are constantly being filed by these companies. The aforementioned companies currently hold more than 13,000 IoT-related patents today. For the technology to develop, smaller and more powerful sensors and chips are needed. With more portable and cheaper systems, more and more devices can be transformed. Samsung and LG have recently unveiled a slew of new products that are intended for smart homes. Regular everyday items such as refrigerators and washing machines are now being equipped with different IoT devices, which essentially will allow them to perform better than ever before. A refrigerator transformed into an Internet of Things device can now keep track of its own internal temperatures depending on the items that have been placed inside it. Additionally, the same product can also now keep track of the expiry dates of the items inside it. This information can then be used to alert its user through his smartphone or an integrated screen regarding what items need to be thrown out and replaced.
Another big trend that is now gathering momentum is the use of artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistants that can now be embedded into different gadgets. Things such as a speaker are now “smart,” thanks to the integration of these virtual assistants. In the past, this type of technology was practically impossible as these types of software will require a lot of storage and computing power to function. However, with the advent of faster internet connections and the use of cloud servers, everyday gadgets are now capable of running these systems. Most of the computing and calculations are now done on the cloud by powerful computers relaying their data remotely. These types of systems essentially become the automated controllers of the different IoT devices. Modern virtual assistants can already perform amazing tasks with little to no input from their users. An embedded virtual assistant on a smartphone can now automatically turn on appliances, lighting systems, and even cars depending on its users needs. The technology is only bound to improve in the coming years. Future smart homes may become fully automated with all of its appliances and systems being controlled by our very own virtual assistants that track our behaviors and habits. These systems can then adapt to our preferences essentially removing the burden from its users. Without having to worry about turning off the lights or air-conditioning and other mundane tasks, we will be left with more time to do more productive things.