What is the Internet of Things Being Used for Today?

M2M sign

a businessman showing a signboard with the text M2M, for the machine to machine technologies, written in it

The internet of things might seem like a buzzword right now. With an estimated 26 billion devices projected to be connected by 2020, it is actually something that you need to take seriously. It is more than some hip term, it is the way of the future. In fact, today we are seeing the internet of things appearing in several industries.

Take for example, the use of the internet of things in medicine. In a hospital, devices are connected to pagers, computers and other devices so doctors and nurses can easily monitor the stats of a patient, regardless of where they are in the world. If there is an alert, such as a patient coding, healthcare professionals are alerted at once.

Major cities are even incorporating the internet of things into how they handle their parking. In city parking garages, the IoT helps drivers know how many free spaces are available on each level. These sensors help drivers to locate spaces easier and help the garage to determine when they are filled to capacity. This is incredibly useful when a major sporting event or concert is going on.

Cities are also using the internet of things to help them to better maintain roads. Sensors located on roadways monitor the normal flow of traffic at a given time. In areas where traffic is heavier than others, these devices transmit counts to a central system. The city then can plan maintenance for these areas and increase lanes, based on the statistics these devices transmit.

Another way the internet of things is being used today is in your car. Some car insurance companies now have devices you can plug into your vehicle. This device monitors the speed you are going, braking habits and even how loud your radio is. This information is sent over the internet to the provider. Based on the transmitted data, the provider determines if you are eligible for good driving discounts. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. Those who drive erratically may also face higher rates based on the transmissions from this device.

As you can see, the internet of things is becoming an important part of our world. Every year, new industries are rolling out new technologies that incorporate, or take advantage of IoT. Before long, our world will be universally connected and our devices will be far more powerful than they are today.

The History of IoT

Internet of things vector illustration flat design IoTThe internet isn’t that old, so far as the world wide web. In 1974, the TCIP/IP structure that we know today had it’s birth. It was not until ten years later that the first domain name system or DNS was introduced. The first website actually came online in 1991. The internet that he had proposed just a scant two years earlier came crashing into our mainstream world. It was a technological awakening that had been a long time coming.

In no time the internet took over. By 1995, multiple websites and systems came online. Entertainment by means of bulletin board systems began to be seen. All of it came from the imaginings of others that had taken place decades earlier.

The term “internet of things” or “IoT” is also not a new one. It’s frequently used and has been so for years, but in a survey it was revealed that even those who work in it every day are not at all conversant with the history of the IoT. That history or at least the ideology goes back a great deal further than most people know.

The first look at the internet of things arguably came from Nicola Tesla in 1926 when he commented in Collier’s “When wireless”* is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole………and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.” It was a comment that got him laughed at in some circles, but one which was remarkably accurate considering the state of computing at that time.

In 1998, Google incorporated and too, in 1998, inTouch a project that was developed at MIT was put into play by Scott Brave and Professor Hiroshi Ishii who announced “….We then present inTouch, which applies Synchronized Distributed Physical Objects to create a “tangible telephone” for long distance haptic communication.”

In 1998, the real IoT was touched by Mark Weiser, who developed a water fountain that was amazing and delightful to everyone who saw it. It rose and fell respectively according to the pricing trends and the volume of stock on the NYSE.

1999 saw the term Internet of Things spoken by Kevin Ashton who was the then executive director for the Auto-ID Center. “I could be wrong, but I’m fairly sure the phrase “Internet of Things” started life as the title of a presentation I made at Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1999. Linking the new idea of RFID in P&G’s supply chain to the then-red-hot topic of the Internet was more than just a good way to get executive attention.

Business Week in 1999 was the scene of the next big announcement about the term Internet of Things. 1999 – Neil Gross, speaking to Business Week commented, “In the next century, planet earth will don an electronic skin. It will use the Internet as a scaffold to support and transmit its sensations. This skin is already being stitched together. It consists of millions of embedded electronic measuring devices: thermostats, pressure gauges, pollution detectors, cameras, microphones, glucose sensors, EKG’s, electroencephalographs. These will probe and monitor cities and endangered species, the atmosphere, our ships, highways and fleets of trucks, our conversations, our bodies–even our dreams.”

IoT has continued to grow and to evolve and projections are bright for this new methodology for using the internet. The future of IoT is now –with devices coming online every day. The world is reliant upon connected cars, connected medical devices and even connected homes.

Companies today are scrambling to get their own IoT systems online and moving, and new recruits are being brought in every day to head up IoT systems in companies from small to large.

How does your company use IoT? Where are you going with it?

Why Should Companies Care about IoT Services?

Smart phone with Internet of things (IoT) word and objects icon connecting together,Internet networking concept.

Smart phone with Internet of things (IoT) - IoT ServicesAs with any new technology, businesses will need to find quantifiable benefits in the Internet of Things before the concept is embraced and implemented. It could be argued that IoT is already being adopted on a wide scale. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Qualcomm, IBM, and others already see IoT as a core part of their businesses. Even so, there are still some, especially small to medium sized businesses, that are weighing up the costs and benefits of ultra-connectivity in the world of IoT.

You don’t have to dig deep to see why IoT is important. Business Insider research division BI Intelligence has predicted that IoT will become the largest device market in the world over the next five years. Most analysts predict market value will reach in to the trillions, with possibly $7 trillion of total value by 2020. These figures are promising for businesses directly involved in the manufacture and design of IoT services and hardware, but what about the companies that will purchase these technologies to incorporate into operations?

Perhaps the single largest benefit will be in how IoT can lower costs. The manufacturing sector provides an ideal case scenario. Machine to Machine (M2M) systems will allow for machinery to become more efficient, and more autonomous. Take a production line that was previously labor intensive. Sensors relying on IoT can receive orders, initiate fabrication, sign off work orders, and even package products using IoT, and with little human interaction. Even non-automated manufacturing will benefit. Orders can be taken from anywhere in the world, transferred through the cloud, and delivered to remote manufacturing facilities. These systems can collect valuable analytics that can benefit accounting, inventory management, and even resource procurement.

While this type of IoT will directly benefit businesses in manufacturing, it will also create new opportunities for project managers, engineers, and IT professionals who will be necessary in designing, implementing, and supporting these systems.

Because IoT provides immediate data collection, businesses in all industries will benefit from improved decision making. Being able to analyze and distribute intelligence faster means that tedious data collection will be a thing of the past. Decisions can be made faster, and in some cases can be automated. What this means in essence; is better decisions based on better data.

Hong Kong International Airport, and other mega-airports around the world rely on RFID technology to track luggage and freight throughout their sites. This enables luggage to be delivered by machine to the correct gate, the correct passenger carousel, or to the correct airliner, train, or delivery vehicle. Items are tracked via computer, and managed from a central control point. This reduces hands on management and labor costs. HKIA spent $50 million to develop the initial infrastructure, but widespread adoption of this IoT based technology could save the industry $760 million per year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Imagine how a similar system could benefit a SMB. Goods delivery could be RFID or barcode tracked on handheld scanners. This tracking information could be uploaded to a cloud solution, from where dispatchers, couriers, and clients could track the location and progress of a delivery. These are the kind of innovations that are driving IoT, and making it a necessary technology in a market where cost and efficiency is key, and where end users and consumers demand constant, easily accessible information.

The opportunities are there for businesses who adopt IoT today. The benefits exist whether they seek to improve manufacturing efficiency, streamline logistics processes, or even provide new ways for customers to interact and receive information. In the growing world of IoT, the question is not why should we care, but is rather, can you afford not to?