Internet of Things: What Does the Future Hold?

March 1st, 2016

Internet of Things // Vladymir

Internet of Things - What does the future hold?

Internet of things is becoming a trend and with so many tools available, the sky is the limit to imagination. What does the future hold?

Back in 2003, 13 years ago, there were about 500 million connected devices. It grew to 4.9 billion on 2015 and the prediction for the year 2020 is 26,000,000,000 devices (considering that there are 7 billion people on our planet as of now, that's more than 3 devices per every living person!) Internet of Things technology is not an iPhone, so few would line up for the latest model of a smart fridge, yet this is the future we're heading toward. 

What kind of devices are we talking about?

Transport (Mobility)

  • Smart traffic lights that are activated only when there is a need for them (implemented in such places as Los Angeles, Orange County, Utah, etc., where over 80% of the state traffic lights are adaptive.)  
  • Shipping and package tracking and monitoring (UPS and TNT already offer this service, among other.)
  • Smart parking handles the pain of trying to find a good place to park by making endless circles around the parking lot. According to reports, over 30% of cars that cause congestion on the roads are driving around on a lookout for a parking place. 
  • Public transport (including airlines and trains) - using the collected data to manage transportation demands easier (as, for example, Transport for London has one).

Health (Body)

  • IoT technologies (mobile devices and wearables) improve the quality of the patient care. For example, by eliminating needless questions regarding the patient's condition - such as blood pressure or other tests - and letting the doctors and the rest of the hospital staff actually care for the patient's needs better and more efficiently (and with fewer errors, considering the data is stored in the cloud.)
  • Elderly & other monitoring can be done via wearables like SmartWatcher, where if something happens, you can trigger an alert and the members of your personal safety network receive a notification. Read the interview with Bruna Carvalho, Marketing Director of SmartWatcher here.
  • Agriculture has been one of the leaders of Internet of Things and they have done quite a lot to help consumers benefit from the food grown. For example, Microsoft and Fujitsu have created a special lettuce that contains 80% less potassium than the standard one, for those consumers who have kidney problems. 

Buildings (Infrastructure)

  • ThyssenKrupp - the company that made the elevators at the New York's One World Trade Center, Saudi Arabia's Riyadh, and Chinese Bayshore Hotel - invested into using the collected data from the elevators in order to streamline the process of getting to the needed floor.
  • Adding a layer of security to the buildings is important because the more data is stored, the more digital threats arise. Therefore, it is one of the key factors the developers are working on. Emergency alerts also fall into this category - whatever happens, the efficiency can be increased. 
  • Controlling lighting with a Jedi swish of hand doesn't even surprise anyone anymore. However, besides the undeniable fun factor of things like that, there is an influential part to this: improving the performance and lowering the costs of the electrical wiring in the building (for example, only turning on lights when motion is detected.) Besides that, collecting data from streetlights can help with monitoring of the urban air quality and many more things.  
  • Collecting data from electrical & other meters to make one's house or an office building can vastly improve the understanding of how much is spent and what resources can be utilized in a more productive manner.

Cities (Industry)

  • It is possible to automatize parts of the traffic direction with Internet of Things by combining the views from the surveillance cameras and streetlight sensors that can detect traffic and direct it. As an example, Flir's TrafiCam detects cars, collects data, and streams video which can be used for maintenance. 
  • Solar-powered garbage cans (aka Big Bellies) crush waste and alert the dispatcher when they are full and require a pickup. In Philadelphia, this reduced the number of weekly garbage-collecting shifts from 17 to just 3. 

Home (Consumer)

  • Nest, a startup that was acquired by Google in 2013, produces Learning Thermostats that can also reduce consumer's electricity bills. 
  • Have a pet? These days, you can feed your dog or cat from wherever you are, simply using your phone. Same applies to tracking your pet
  • Humidity control is done quite nicely at the Manitoba Hydro's Place. Its sophisticated natural humidifier is basically a garden with a couple of 24-meter waterfalls. The system also knows when to open and close the blinds in order to keep the temperature and light acceptable for the people in the room. 

As we mentioned before, the sky is the limit. 

With the internet, we became interconnected with each other in ways that we could never have dreamed possible. The internet of things will take us even beyond that connection. It will be like the nervous system of the world. 

If you could invest into one of the IoT ideas, which one would it be?

Author: Vladymir

Vladimir holds a candidate degree in Physical and Mathematical Sciences and has worked in the Internet of Things field for quite some time.

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