From optimizing the power grid for peak use hours to helping your sprinkler system learn the best times to run, the application of connected-device automation is nearly limitless. That type of automation is only possible through The Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is the network of web connected devices or objects embedded with software, electronics and sensors that enable the objects to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, users, and other connected devices via the established Internet infrastructure.
The IoT currently has a big impact in the applications of city management, environmental automation, logistics automation, water and utility monitoring, agricultural monitoring and animal care, healthcare, and home automation and defense. For example, the IoT already helps automate supply chain management in retail environments, irrigation on golf courses, monitoring of pollution levels in the world’s oceans, dynamic street lighting based on weather and natural light, and sending respondents to help elderly people in need of medical attention1.
The IoT pushes the boundaries of machine to machine communication, but also helps us interact with devices at home, work, during our commute, and in our leisure by allowing everyday devices to share data and provide efficiencies in arenas that have typically been inefficient or disconnected. The ability to uniquely identify objects within the IoT is instrumental in making data collection and specific application a reality. The connection of an estimated 50 million devices or objects by 2020 will lead a surge in technology automation reaching nearly all aspects of our daily lives.
In the next decade, the average consumer will start to see in large increase in the application of the IoT. Companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and others have invested billions of dollars in the last several years to create products you and I would be interested in purchasing to help automate our everyday lives. Amazon Echo, for example, offers to provide you with music, shopping, and other services in real time via voice commands, and then learns from your previous requests to offer you suggestions for common purchases. Google’s recently acquired Nest smart thermostat learns from your heating and cooling preferences and helps reduce energy costs by automating temperature settings. Home security providers like Vivint and ADT are beginning to offer other home automation features like web-accessible video surveillance and smart home hubs to sync up your entertainment systems with other home features like lighting and HVAC, for example.
The Internet of things makes our products smarter and our lives easier by allowing them to store data, learn patterns, and automate tasks, all through a connection to the Internet. The Internet of things will be getter much bigger over the next decade. If it hasn’t impacted on your life yet, it likely will soon.