How is IOT emerging as next technology mega trend to transform our future?

By Prashanta Ghoshal, Director IT Solutions, Geometric Ltd.

Ever since man started harnessing nature and other elements around him to create ‘things’ which were essentially tools and then evolved into devices and machines, to improve our health, productivity and overall quality of life. These ‘things’ have now evolved into complex smart and connected entities which are getting more and more autonomous of human involvement day by day.

Today we are in that unique stage of evolution, where the processing capabilities can be built into miniature and inexpensive devices and embedded into the articles of our daily use and even within ourselves. Communication and wireless technologies allow real-time communication between the physically distributed devices across the world. Cloud based data storage capabilities are available for storage and retrieval of the data generated across the world. Analytics engines like BigData have arrived to process the massive amounts of information from the billions of devices to make sense out of it all.

To add the final piece, we have the all-pervasive internet to tie all this together into one massive global collaboration platform along with the humans thus completing the ecosystem for the next big shake up in our lives.

Up to this time internet was known to be a network of people but now we will be joined there by billions of these connected devices and effectively each person on the internet will also have a plethora of smart devices connected to himself streaming information about his health, environment, location, activities and so on, on a continual basis.

The implications of this revolution on our individual lives as well as the way our cities, traffic, industries, manufacturing units and offices work are enormous and will match the impact of the industrial revolution and that of the IT revolution had in the past.

The two broad areas of application of this technology can be classified into the Human IoT (HIoT) and Industrial IOT. HIoT refers to transforming articles of day to day use or automating our personal activities like:

  1. Wearable devices gathering and processing health, climate, location related information
  2. Household devices for automating many of our day to day activities like maintaining temperatures, ambient lighting, cleanliness
  3. Ensuring efficient usage of energy, water and other resources
  4. The most well-known manifestation of HIoT are the development of “Smart Cities” which envision building of new cities with these technologies built into the infrastructure right from design, bringing efficiencies as well as cost savings in areas like:
  5. Health care and Public Safety
  6. Public transport, Traffic and Parking
  7. Energy, Lighting, Water and Pollution management
  8. Waste management
  9. Early warning and disaster management

The other area of application is Industrial IOT (IIoT) which pertains to application of these technologies to Manufacturing processes. An example of such applications are “Smart Machines” with integrated sensors to capture real-time production data and communicate them immediately between different machines and components on the shop floor. This will allow quicker analysis and corrective measures for impending problems and inefficiencies. Such technologies harnessed properly, can dramatically improve quality, efficiency, speed and safety on the production floors. Some of the examples are:

  1. Machine to Machine (M2M) control applications
  2. Telemetry
  3. Quality and Safety monitoring like vibrations and wear and tear analysis
  4. Fleet and Asset tracking
  5. Vehicle and machine auto-diagnosis

There are numerous other applications in the fields of agriculture, metrology, and defence and so on.

The other major transformation will be in the way business is done.  The ability of all future devices to provide usage and various other types of data both to the manufacturer and the consumer will fundamentally alter the way purchases are done and customer service is provided. The clearest example in this case is the auto industry where the vehicles will be smart enough to identify the problems automatically and inform the consumer as well as the manufacturer along with the solutions. Consumer usage patterns can be captured so that the components can be optimized along with customizing the customer service contracts to provide optimal performance and service. This also brings enormous challenges in its wake requiring substantial technical and infrastructure changes as well as development of legal frameworks.

As with the other advances in our past the human race will deal with these challenges appropriately. Overall many things that take our time and attention will just get completely automated and handled intelligently by the devices themselves and in a much better manner obsolescing many present day jobs. This should improve the quality of our lives dramatically and also free up our minds for more intellectually stimulating occupations thus making this a truly exciting time to live in.

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