What is IoT?
The Internet of Things, otherwise known as IoT, refers to a system of connected computing devices, objects, buildings, and machines that are linked over a network. They actively collect, analyze and exchange data. The exchange of data between devices occurs automatically, and many devices are programmed with the ability to”learn” from the data gathered by other connected devices. Machine Shop is an example of a company that leverages the concept of IoT technology to help businesses run more efficiently and more smoothly. Machine Shop connects software and devices running on different networks and on different platforms. The ability to connect and share data across all devices on one single integrated platform is a valuable tool for businesses. This is just one of many technologies being developed that is contributing to the ever growing network of interconnected devices know as IoT.
The IoT Landscape
Six types of IoT applications appear to be emerging from under the broad categories of Information Analysis and Automation Control. These applications include Tracking behavior, Situational Awareness, Sensor Driven Analytics, Process Optimization, Optimized Resource Consumption, and Complex Autonomous Systems. As more devices connect to IoT networks, an ever increasing amount of data is gathered. With more data available, the analysis of data improves and the conclusions that can be drawn from the data become more complex and more insightful. This helps companies to make more well informed decisions, and it helps businesses leverage strategies that were once not available without IoT.
The Future of IoT Technology
One development of IoT has been the increased use of RFID chips and other similar tracking devices. This technology is beginning to transform business models of certain industries. Insurance companies have considered the possibility of tracking customers cars. By monitoring customer driving behavior and the places that the customer travels, insurance companies would be able to evaluate risks more accurately and thus price a more accurate policy. This would be a drastic shift from the traditional pricing model, part of which is based off of age, gender and home address.
Environmental conservation efforts have utilized tracking chips to tag and monitor endangered species. The data that is gathered on the movements of engendered animals once they are released back into the wild is used to improve the strategies of conservation efforts. As tracking chips have become cheaper and more readily available some farmers have began to consider the use of tracking chips on their livestock. These chips are considered to be more accurate and more humane than traditional tagging methods.
Currently sensors are being installed into self-driving cars. At some point in the not so distant future it is likely that sensors will be installed in the majority of cars, allowing cars to interact with each other. This will improve driving safety well beyond current levels. Sensors may also be installed in traffic lights and across different roadways, greatly improving traffic flow. It is even possible that sensors with ability to detect ice could be installed on certain roadways. The ice detecting sensor would communicate with the sensor in a car, and the car would automatically brake before the driver was even aware of the threat of ice on the roadway.
Another development from IoT and the use of sensors has been precision agriculture. This farming technique gathers real time data gathered by sensors. This data includes crop conditions, air quality, soil quality, weather conditions, and labor costs and availability to determine the exact amount of water and nutrients plants need during a given day. This process cuts costs for farmers, and it allows for sustainable farming practices as excess water is conserved and soil runoff is prevented.
The smart grid refers to the network of meters and power lines responsible for electric distribution. These meters and power lines have sensors attached that communicate data about electricity flows to each other and back to electricity providers. In the event of an outage the gird will instantaneously communicate the issue to the electric company, and it will provide information about the location and cause of the outage. Some smart grids also have automated controls for repairing the outage and for distributing electricity more efficiently.
Summary and Questions: Traditionally big business invests in and develops a cutting edge technology to improve business operations before the technology reaches many consumer markets. As businesses begin to develop and improve IoT, the technology should become cheaper and more readily available. In the near future IoT technologies will become more common in consumer markets.
Can you think of any consumer facing products or services that could be improved with IoT technology?
Do you have any concerns about the future in regard to IoT technology, tracking, or extensive data collection?
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