As I walked through my local supermarket this week, I performed one simple action that reminded me of the incredibly opulent society we live in. I checked the time on my watch and noticed that it was a little chilly outside. I removed my phone from my pocket and opened my car’s app. I turned on the artificial climate inside my car and cranked it up to a comfortable 23 and turned the seat heater on. When I arrived at my car it would then already be at my preferred temperature and hence save me a couple of minutes of slight discomfort!
Well that was certainly an essential use of the hundreds of billions invested over thirty-eight years in connecting devices around the world as part of the Internet of Things (IoT)!
It was in 1982 that the first IoT device was created – and it was through similar convenience living that prompted its invention. A graduate student in Pennsylvania became somewhat annoyed at walking from his office in the computer science department “all the way” to the Coke machine only to find it empty or, worse still, the bottles inside were tragically warm. The solution? He connected the vending machine to the ARPANET (the pre-cursor to the modern Internet) and, with some clever programming, he could check from afar the availability and temperature status of the drinks. Even though the term IoT was not coined until 1999, this machine was the first device connected.
The IoT market is currently exploding with over 30 billion devices connected to the Internet with estimations of up to 1 trillion devices connected by 2025.
Cars are a simple example but what else is happening in this space?
Smart homes and smart appliances will be the largest sector. In an example of what is available right now, I already have the ability to control and monitor many aspects of my home. Air-conditioning; door locks; security system; doorbell; cameras; gates; garage doors and lights. My kids have grown up in a world where you use your smart phone to turn lights on or off or, more commonly now, they simply ask Alexa to do that. Appliances with in-built IoT will be the next wave in the home.
Asset tracking will be another huge use of IoT. Companies with fleets of vehicles will be able to track the location and speed of any vehicle in their fleet. I had a very interesting situation many years ago when I helped a client keep track of the whereabouts of a wayward employee using photos from a digital camera. Today it would be as simple as tracking your fleet with IoT sensors. Using that IoT data in the public domain allows real-time traffic congestion in major cities to be incredibly accurate. Asset tracking can vary from a vehicle up to a road train carrying freight down to the individual freight parcels or, in our case, down to my daughter’s favourite teddy bear. Seeing the precise location of your pizza or taxi is one thing but seeing the accurate location of your parcel takes it to an entirely new level.
IoT devices will continue to proliferate in manufacturing and robotics; healthcare facilities; wearable devices; smart meters and the farming sector but what I am really waiting for is an IoT connected golf ball! With an object only 42.67mm in diameter and able to experience a G force of over 20,000, it is a complicated problem – but still one easier to solve than keeping my drives on the fairway!
Tell me what device you would like to see IoT connected at email@example.com.