Updated: May 9, 2020
IoT or Internet-of-things is not really that complex a concept. The internet is after all comprised of computers and servers connected to one another in an intricate network of wireless, copper and fibre cables. Using the standard TCP/IP protocol to communicate and deliver packets to one another in the form of binary signals representing '1' and '0'. IoT is changing the world of business and its implementation in the future will be more critical for businesses looking to modernize and make their products compatible. So how does a washing machine factor in here? IoT is, after all, a relatively new form of the internet where general every appliance and hardware in your home can be a toaster, a barbecue, an oven, and your television. We don't really consider a television too much of an IoT device these days since most TVs are smart and are just as powerful as a mobile phone. Now connecting all these appliances to the internet has a great potential for ease of use, scheduling, and maintenance. Let's explore the possibilities of how IoT can make life easier.
An IoT device normally does not compute but responds to instructions. These instructions can be from a centralized server from the manufacturer connected to your application on your mobile or tablet. Sensors in a washing machine can be used to measure dampness and much other information about the clothes that are washing. Allowing you to load the wash and tweak it. Imagine an application that has hundreds of presets based on what you need, from a stubborn stain on silk to delicate washing of other fragile fabric. No more having to figure out which buttons to press, simply load the clothes and open your tablet in your living room. Maybe it is just a regular wash that you are trying to save water consumption on or maybe you are washing something that needs a little longer to soak.
Imagine a toaster that can always deliver the best toast based on the type of bread you load into it and the kind of cheese you will be eating it with? That does not sound too good to be true anymore. Security is, however, concern and so is power consumption. Anything connected to the internet is susceptible to hacking and attacks. There is also the risk of data being collected that could be shared. For example information on your toaster can indicate what time you are at home before you leave for work. Your appliances can be asked to do something without your permission. Of course, it is highly unlikely that any normal person would be targeted in this manner for no absolute reason, so companies are looking to make sure that security is of the utmost concern and that the additional costs of these upgrades are not borne too much by the consumer. So let us not think too much of this, after all, it is not as if your appliances can move or have cameras embedded in them. So there is not much use to even hack them in the first place.
The first version of IoT is smart homes, which have automated windows, car garages, lights, temperature control, tv control all consolidated into one control panel. These are expensive and most of the population is not able to afford such a luxurious item and it is not entirely connected to the internet. Which makes it difficult to truly classify it as IoT. IoT of the future will look like a full home with appliances and even furniture from various brands with the ability to connect to the internet and one another.
The new standard, called ISO/IEC 30141, issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is the new international standard. Developed by Dr. François Coallier, Chair of the Joint Technical Committee of the ISO and International Technical Commission (IEC). This is great and promotes a common framework for future designers and developers to work from. It may even breed the possibility for a common portal to install and run all the IoT devices of the future. Right now there are millions of IoT devices on the market and at the moment it is very hard to predict where it goes and normalizes. Designers will have to understand how important IoT is and make sure to design them into their new appliances if they wish to stay relevant. This is no longer an if scenario but a must.
What we see as the advantage of IoT is the potential to ease and automate many aspects of our life. A great example is the first Marvel Iron Man movie, where the curtains draw up automatically in the morning. Now imagine your alarm clock is responsible for drawing your curtains up in the morning, these few seconds saved are seconds gained. Coffee automatically brewing, your shower heater warming up ten minutes before the alarm goes off. Your refrigerator sending you a notification indicating what you need to purchase for groceries if you wish to have a certain recipe for dinner or for all the meals planned ahead for the week. Your robotic vacuum cleaner would know the exact moment you leave the house and start to make it's round cleaning your entire floor. Your fans and air conditioning would turn off and your windows would be programmed to open ajar to let the fresh air in and the entire night of stuffy air out. Your security systems would be programmed to be more vigilant and through careful AI programming can immediately identify an unfamiliar face lurking around your house and alert you. A security camera can also be programmed to know which delivery companies are legitimate and delivery vehicles could be easily authenticated through their license plate and the server of the security device.
Of course, for an average able-bodied person, this seems more of a luxury than a need. What about people with disabilities or PWDs. Imagine a loved one in your own home taken care of their daily routine through automation. You would not even have to really look after them, just look at them. Future devices for PWDs will be IoT compatible. Allowing them control over their lives and the ability to use things around the house that are not really designed very well for them but for normal fully able-bodied individuals. IT stands to make life easier for those who really need it. From an automated bed that allows you to get onto your automated wheelchair. Maybe even a different wheelchair for showering and a different wheelchair for everyday use. And most importantly, the sector to gain most from IoT is the medical sector. Gone will be the days of manual entries and reduced will the chances of mistakes made from pen to paper. from thermometers to brain scans. All of that data is collated and consolidated into a patient. Full history and statistics can be shown to more accurately predict a patient's medical status and missing medical history. Devices that can properly measure the proper amount of fluid accurate to the millilitre. No more manual dosage and maybe even an accurate dosage for a person as opposed to a standard drug tablet that can only be cut in half.
Still, security is a concern and needs to be addressed. When it comes to medical devices, it is dangerous is the device inserting life-saving drugs is able to be manipulated remotely.
IoT is also applicable in transportation systems and this applies to both the infrastructure and the user of these systems. Possibilities to implement this in parking, traffic systems, toll charges, control of vehicles like smart and also driver-less systems that are going to be implemented in Singapore within the next few years. Companies like UPS and FedEx, well known logistic companies, would be able to manage their fleet remotely, manage their stock and inventory. And from a physical security standpoint, they will be able to monitor missing items from their inventory. From managing the physical status of their drivers and integrating their fleet with GPS, logistic companies would be better able to manage the delivery of items around the globe from a centralized server.
Crime prevention we think is an amazing way of using IoT. In any case, most police systems are already working off a closed-circuit system linked to their own intranet servers. Further expanding this could allow the prevention of crimes, from being able to capture and identify unreported crimes. For example, in Europe, most people do not even bother to report being pick-pocketed. Now imagine a drone above that is able to capture such an event and follow the criminal and provide police with information to take immediate action. We are not talking about a police state here, after all, that is the difference between a police officer patrolling a public place and a drone with machine learning or A.I. monitoring if a crime is committed in a public setting? With countries facing shortages in police manpower and their forces spread so thinly, this is a really good way to improve the order, especially of problem areas in a city. Agricultural farming can benefit from measuring various sensor data, from rainfall, soil quality, temperature, weather and even if there are pests in their crops. Sensors would be placed around the farms and monitor a large field that would be impossible for even a handful of farmers to monitor accurately. They would know which parts of their field need to be tended to. Even cattle and livestock can be managed using drones that are IoT compatible.
Farming has always faced a manpower shortage. The government could subsidize farming tools such as driver-less tractors and ploughing equipment from the comfort of a centralized management system. The future of farming will soon be upon us and one farmer could realistically manage a gigantic farm by himself. Choosing to only focus on maintaining the equipment rather than manual farming. This could prove to be a game-changer and with data equipping these farmers to keep on improving their yields year after year.
Manufacturing sectors are all about sensors, actuation, and automation. Most of these assembly functions are standalone machines designed to perform a certain task. Even the most advanced assembly line is not truly fully automated. This is why IoT as a function of these coupled with Machine Learning could prove very useful to the overall efficiency and reliability of the system. Sensors could be extended and integrated with one another to regulate the entire line from start to finish. This could improve the accountability of parts and follow the accuracy of the process from start to finish. A.I. or Machine Learning implemented here could take over the role of a management service capable of instructing manual labour on the floor on areas that need improvement or even the part of the assembly line facing issues like bottle-necking and where most of the unreliable parts are produced. From car assembly lines to the circuit board. Calculating and measuring the wear and tear of equipment such as drills and cutters to optimize both the production framework and equipment reliability.
From an environmental point of the thing, the internet of things is a good way to make power consumption more efficient. Of course, we think power conservation simply instigates power companies to increase their rates as a direct response to lower profit margins. It can also be said not eating meat is just as effective in reducing greenhouse gases, but humour us. Solar panels and a wind turbine that turn to face the direction most efficient for the collection of energy and improve electricity generated. Homes that have temperature control could measure what time you will arrive at home and only prepare your home in preparation for your arrival. Comfort and functionality all rolled into one. But seriously, eating less meat will help a lot as well. And we digress again. Which brings us to our little animal friends and the species that are in danger of disappearing from the face of our planet. We would monitor the atmosphere, water, food, temperature, and movement. Conservation efforts could monitor their habitats and provide real-time data to wildlife conservation organizations. We could better understand what is needed for the survival of these species and how to improve their ability to thrive. Re-introduction into the wild would be much easier. Currently, there are many wild animals tagged manually by wildlife conservation organizations and if we can do that in a manner where we would not have to interfere too much in their daily routine, this could help further improve any effort made. In the essence of it, the real internet of things is an expansion of our internet yet it may not necessarily be so. It can operate in an intranet and might be even more secure and effective in that manner. But the realistic adoption is going to be mixing the old and the new to make it work for humankind. Standards are being rolled out and barbecues that can measure how well done your meat is via a Bluetooth app are already here. So it does look like it is here to stay, but we feel it has not truly been adopted to its potential as of yet. Numerous studies and research money are poured into IoT, investors and companies are weighing the real value and return on investment as they should. From a user's perspective, it is simple, it needs to work. For us we will only use something not because it is a new thing (which we probably still will until the novelty wears away), we need it to assist us in our everyday life. IoT enthusiasts and companies that are willing to adopt it must understand this. Does a Bluetooth signal sent from a needle pronged into meat in a barbecue really a good application of this concept. No doubt it is very cool that it can do that, but it does seem to do very little for all the complications that will arise. From the wear and tear of equipment exposed to high levels of heat in the barbecue, to the unreliability of Bluetooth connections and syncing issues. And lastly, do we really need to know if our steak is done the way we want as opposed to just timing meat. We don't know what the masses want, it does feel like not a really sustainable application. The novelty will wear off and the device will be abandoned. Another donation to the many electronic types of equipment in the garbage pile or storage box. What we know for sure, IoT is happening and it will happen. It is more promising than cryptocurrency, but that is another nutshell altogether. Thank you so much for reading 'Let's talk about iOT' with us.