Taming the IoT: Where Does Your Business Fit in the Internet of Things?

By | July 28th, 2015

Unless you’re living under a rock (or deep in the woods), you know how “connected” our lives are and how much our “devices” are changing the way we live and interact with others. So it’s not surprising that the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT)—a network of sensors, devices and control systems connected via the Internet and constantly supplying data or receiving commands in real time— is becoming (or will become) more real and present in our lives in a variety of ways. Is this scary? Yes, for some applications, there are and will continue to be concerns that need to be addressed, especially around privacy and security issues. Is the Internet of Things inevitable? Also probably a “yes.” We can’t completely go back to a pre-Internet world, and most of us probably don’t want to either.

Many factors are intersecting to drive the research and development of IoT applications: robust and readily-available cloud computing platforms, big data computing architectures, high-bandwidth mobile communications networks, smart phones, and the miniaturization and plummeting costs of all sorts of sensors, including the emerging field of wearables. Big commercial, consumer players including Google and Apple are seriously investing, but there’s also serious interest in non-consumer applications.

How might sensor monitoring and IoT impact your business soon? Let’s look at some possibilities:

  • Smart Cities: parking availability, structural health, traffic congestion, lighting, waste management and smart roads
  • Environment: monitoring forest fires, air pollution, landslides/avalanches, earthquakes, water quality/pollution, floods and public water supplies
  • Industrial: indoor air quality, temperature and pressure monitoring, asset location and tracking
  • Agriculture/farming: greenhouse control, irrigation, weather monitoring, compost monitoring, animal tracking, hydroponics
  • Smart Home: energy and water use, remote control appliances, intrusion detection
  • Healthcare: monitoring patients, vaccine and medicine storage, sports activities and UV exposure
  • Logistics: monitoring shipment quality, item location, hazardous substances and fleet tracking

Making sense of all the data collected from sensors and devices requires large amounts of storage and robust analytics platforms to provide actionable insight that can be translated into real-time action. The technology we are using now, and developing into for the future, makes this a possibility now.

To dive even more deeply, let’s look more closely at two different IoT vertical applications.

Digital Technologies in Healthcare

The idea of telehealth—healthcare delivered anytime, anywhere—is being driven by a combination of factors, not the least of which is the digital revolution, which puts sophisticated tools in the hands of the average person to create a new type of healthcare consumer. These new technology-enabled consumers are ready and interested in fully participating in their healthcare management, from disease prevention to medical care. A new menu of telehealth offerings includes:

  • Information and education on disease prevention
  • Self-monitoring and health coaching tools
  • Communicating with healthcare providers
  • Chronic disease management and acute-care tools

The IoT in healthcare will contribute significantly to the changing face of telehealth in years to come. Sensors, gateway devices, micro controllers and micro radars—either embedded in or worn on the body, clothes or a mobile device and all communicating via the Internet—will make monitoring, diagnosis, treatment and health promotions extremely personalized, accessible and convenient while simultaneously reducing healthcare costs.

To learn more, read Digital Technologies are Driving a New Generation of Telehealth.

Streaming Analytics in Transportation and Logistics

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about one-third of all food shipments spoil in transit, largely due to trucks sitting in slow or stopped traffic. How can we greatly reduce this food loss?

Outfitting trucks and drivers with various types of IoT sensors to capture data and send it to the cloud in real-time is just the beginning. Transportation and logistics companies need the necessary tools to receive, process and analyze this sensor data so that real-time decisions can be made and actions taken to provide drivers with the best possible routes to bypass trouble and avoid delays.

Traditional data warehouses are not able to handle the high-velocity streaming data typical with a transportation and logistics monitoring application. Rather, a tailored data architecture with streaming analytics is required to collect and sort all types of data and enable decision automation.

Read Streaming Analytics and the Internet of Things: Transportation and Logistics to learn more and get specific industry use cases and examples.