The Internet of Things (IoT) is considered to be the next evolution of the Internet. Predictions expect IoT to have five to 10 times the impact on society as the Internet, with over 50 billion devices set to join the IoT landscape by 2020.
What exactly is the IoT? At it’s core is a really simple explanation – it’s about connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us, applications, and each other. The most common every-day application in the UK at the moment is within home heating and energy use – think Smart Meters. They have clever functions that let you turn on heating remotely, set it to turn down the temperature if it’s a sunny day, or even turn off when there’s no-one home. Some can tell the latter with motion-sensing cameras, or simply by seeing that your smartphone (and therefore you) has left the premises. If you use a FitBit or similar device you are already interacting with IoT technology.
Here is a great infographic which explains things clearly.
Do you need to think about it for your business?
The short answer is yes. You may not be thinking about smart devices, but you could be thinking about sensors. These tiny devices can monitor areas of your business various ways, think:
Communication – Almost every company has a class of assets it could track. GPS-enabled assets can communicate their current location and movement. Location is important for items that move, such as trucks, but it’s also applicable for locating items and people within an organization. You may have employees that go to meetings, this way you can monitor efficiencies.
Control and Automation – In many cases, a business or consumer will be able to remotely control a device. For example, a business can remotely turn on or shut down a specific piece of equipment or adjust the temperature in a climate-controlled environment. Meanwhile, a consumer can use IoT to unlock their car or start the washing machine. Once a performance baseline has been established, a process can send alerts for anomalies and possibly deliver an automated response. For example, if the brake pads on a truck are about to fail, it can prompt the company to take the vehicle out of service and automatically schedule maintenance.
Cost Savings – many companies will adopt IoT to save money. Measurement provides actual performance data, instead of estimates. Businesses lose money when equipment fails. With new sensor information, IoT can help a company save money by minimizing equipment failure and allowing the business to perform planned maintenance. Sensors can also measure items, such as driving behavior and speed, to reduce fuel expense and wear and tear on consumables.
Are you IoT ready?
Talk to Microcomms about littleBits – a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that empower you to invent anything, from your own remote controlled car, to a smart home device. The Bits snap together with magnets, no soldering, no wiring, no programming needed. Originally aimed at Schools, the technology is now being adopted by designers, leading institutions and business. Using the simple technology to illustrate concepts and new design ideas. Let us see how it could help you.