Plain and Simple Internet of Things

 

I have been reading about Internet of Things (IoT) for quite a while now. It is a fairly complex subject due to its scope and overall impact. In this first post my attempt is to explain the concept of IoT in a plain and simple language. Hope it can help those who (like me) wants to start from simple and build more understanding in future.

What is Internet of Things?

The Internet is a large group of computers that are connected to each other. Going by this simple definition, IoT is something where anything and everything is connected over the Internet. This can include all living and non-living things having computing chips or processors either connected or inbuilt (embedded) into it for controlling and automating its functionality. Such things connect to the Internet using existing Internet connectivity mediums such as wired, wireless, or 3G/4G cellular connections.

The Past

IoT has its roots in the way computers and Internet have matured over precisely last two decades. It is not something entirely new rather it is the output how the computers and Internet had pushed all of us to automate and innovate by connecting things.

The Current State

IoT is already into our lives to some extent and continues to become a significant part moving ahead. Ask the following questions to yourself. Then extrapolate that with population of the world. Even if we assume digital literacy around 40%, you will understand that we are already on the path towards IoT.

  • How many devices do you interact with during the day? (My guess is minimum 10 out of list below),

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1. Air Conditioner, 2. Air/Water Heater, 3. Car Audio,  4. Coffee OR Cold Drink Machines, 5. Desktop,
6. eBook Readers, 7. Gaming Console, 8. Gym Equipment’s, 9. Laptop, 10. Microwave,
11. Printer, 12. Refrigerator, 13. Remote Controls 14. Scanner, 15. Shaving Trimmer,
16. Smart Phone, 17. Tablets, 18. TV, 19.Various Smart Cards, 20. Washing Machine, 21. Wi-Fi Or Wired routers,

  • How many machines/devices you don’t interact with directly but are integral part of your living?

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1. Debit/Credit Cards, 2. ATM Machine, 3. Point Of Sale Devices, 4. Bar Code Scanners
5. Fingerprint Scanners, 6. Surveillance Cameras, 7. Fuel Pumps, 8. Electricity
9. Solar Powered Devices, 10. Toll Booth, 11. Radio/Cellphone Towers, 12. Public Transport Vehicles
13. Car Engine, Batteries, 14. Weighing Tools, 15. Fire Extinguishers, 16. Motion Sensors, 17. Industrial equipment(s) And many more you can think of…

 

The Future

The following can help you visualize evolution and how big IoT will be,

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To understand beyond these numbers lets understand following,

  • Technically

    • Its connected phenomena will push innovation in device automation.
    • As more things (living or non-living) get connected the importance of controlling and managing will become imperative and complex. This need will result in further push for more automation.
    • Connected things will start exposing lots of data every second. This will push huge data over the networks towards data centers. The need to handle this data will push the demand for analytical skills, tools and techniques.

 

  • Social and Environmental – Some scenarios to visualize,

    • Healthcare
      • Wearable devices like Smart Watches, Health Bands and so on will push in innovation in personal healthcare products. Oral-B already has Bluetooth connected toothbrush
      • The need for collecting critical health observations can push innovation in devices to treat complex diseases.
      • The devices (Wheel Chairs, Walkers, Hearing Aids, Glasses and Lenses) that are currently available in the market to help people with disabilities can go through a significant revision.
    • Education
      • With the cloud boom education-related innovation had a big surge in the past few years. IoT can extend this beyond Portals, Mobiles,Tablet consumption and e-classrooms
      • I am interested to see if it can bridge the gap between regular students and students with disabilities to be in the same classroom learning the same subject seamlessly.
    • Finance
      • Banks and Financial institution can go beyond ATMs, PoS, Card Chips, Online Banking to Wearable Devices for banking transactions.
      • There may be innovations in the space of customer service from Banks if Wearable become part of banking transactions
      • There may be enhancements to Security inside the Bank Operations, Safety Lockers, and Inter-bank Transactions.
    • Transport : Imagine Smart Vehicles getting more smarter by:
      • Sensing and Adjusting Driving Preferences, Passenger Preferences, Tracking and Guiding routes, Tracking Real Time Vehicle Performance that can helpful for service centers and manufacturer for innovations.
      • In public transport do smart Fleet Management, Track Commuting Data, make it available for authorities to Plan Capacity Based on Patterns.
      • Can Supply Change Management see the surge in innovation to manage connections from Manufacture to Warehouse to Transit to End Customer by having always connected vehicles and instruments used for loading and unloading?
    • Infrastructure
      • Imagine rail tracks, roads, bridges, tunnels get connected. They may start tracking & sharing critical data for better signal management, avoiding accidents and planning required maintenance.
      • Electrical supply devices can track demand and supply for better utilization of energy resources.
      • Imagine garbage collection points get connected across the city. They may start sensing the waste type, quantity and patterns in usage. This data can be utilized for better waste management in colony/suburb/city which is biggest problem even for development countries.
      • Water supply channels get connected at various junctions. They may start sharing consumption details at end point level. It can help manage water conservation by planning supply appropriately on a need basis. It can also track the water quality and any related outcomes on processing, distribution, and consumption.
    • Agriculture
      • Operating water pumps, remote controlling greenhouse, sowing/cutting/grinding/ mixing devices are already in use by some large scale farmers. Imagine IoT making such things cheaper for small farmers.
      • Imagine innovated devices helping farmers do soil testing themselves, plan crops accordingly and maintain soil health by being less dependent on availability of experts.
      • Imagine a drones crawling/surveying the fields and keeping track of critical observations. Automated surveillance will enable farmers reduce damages or wastages.
    • Consumer Electronics  Biggest area where IoT will create footprint and eventually expand into other areas,
      • Imagine TV, Refrigerator, Air Conditioner, Washing Machine, Dish Washer, and Light Systems connected and tracking your usage/consumption. It can help personalize the experiences within family members. It will help customer service incidents by providing usage data. Tracked data can help manufacturers and service providers to customize and enhance product experiences.

If you have read till here I hope you can visualize what IoT is & will be soon. To keep it simple I am deliberately stopping here.

In future posts I will try to extend further & share my additional learning.
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