In a previous post, we listed the top 10 cloud technologies changing the world. In this post, we’ll go into depth on the first one we mentioned: The Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is making an impact on sheer numbers alone. Gartner estimates the number of devices connected to the internet at 14.2 billion, potentially hitting 25 billion by just 2021.
As Gartner research vice president Nick Jones said when announcing the company’s estimates, “The IoT will continue to deliver new opportunities for digital business innovation for the next decade, many of which will be enabled by new or improved technologies.”
In other words, the IoT is just getting started and the best is yet to come. The benefits are already being felt in two main areas: on the home front, and in business. Here’s an overview, with a hint of what’s next.
IoT for Consumers
Connected speakers, thermostats, light bulbs, door locks, and other IoT devices let consumers monitor pets while they’re away, play music with a spoken command, dim the lights with the touch of a smartphone, and more. But soon even things that can’t get on online could become part of the IoT.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Future Interfaces Group have developed a system called Vibrosight that detects the state of an appliance or other object by bouncing laser light off it from a ceiling-mounted device and measuring the vibrations. Want to know when a faucet has been left on, or a washing machine load is done? Vibrosight can let you know with a smartphone alert.
The IoT also promises a wealth of health benefits, thanks to fitness trackers and connected implants such as pacemakers that can share data with healthcare providers.
And a new system in Canada heralds a future of connected emergency medical devices. The government of Nova Scotia aims to deploy connected automated external defibrillators (AEDs) throughout the province. Sensors will update the charge status and location of each AED in real time, allowing 911 dispatchers to direct callers to the nearest one—potentially helping save the lives of some of the 40,000 Canadians who go into cardiac arrest every year.
IoT for Business
Perhaps the biggest single impact of the IoT will come to the manufacturing sector, according to McKinsey & Company. The research firm estimates that the IoT for factories, sometimes called the Industrial IoT, could generate as much as $3.7 billion by 2025.
In the factory, IoT data helps plant managers monitor machines producing food and other products for signs of trouble and provides insights for making processes more efficient.
If a motor starts to overheat on a factory machine, for example, the machine can send an alert to a technician’s smartphone, telling him or her not only the status of the machine but also what parts need replacing, saving valuable time and minimizing costly shutdowns.
Beyond the factory, the IoT promises new efficiencies for connected supply chains and delivery systems. One near-term future development: internet-connected, self-driving trucks.
Florida startup Starsky Robotics is developing semi-autonomous, remote-controlled big rigs. The goal, according to CEO and co-founder Stefan Seltz-Axmacher: safer roads, and truckers who can go home each night to their families from office jobs.
IoT for the Global Economy
Altogether, according to McKinsey & Company, the IoT could boost the global economy by anywhere from $3.9 billion to $11.1 billion by the mid-2020s.
It all depends on data. “Data is the fuel that powers the IoT,” said Gartner’s Jones. And always-on connectivity—such as that provided by the secure infrastructure of T5 Data Centers—provides the pipeline for delivering that fuel.