Businesses across all industries, and ordinary people in all nations will see Internet of Things (IoT) technology dramatically influence business practices and day-to-day living in the years to come. According to research firm Gartner, we’ll see more than 26 billion IoT devices around the world by 2020.
So what is the Internet of Things, exactly, and how is it likely to change your life? Here’s a quick primer.
A world of “intelligent” objects
Simply put, the Internet of Things refers to objects, equipment, and wearables that have been equipped with sensors to collect sets of data, which are sent to computers for analysis. These objects can be automated to provide set responses based on the available data in real-time, or to change their behavior based on pre-programmed cues.
One common example of IoT technology that you may already have access to is GM’s OnStar car connectivity system. When your car is equipped with OnStar, it uses sensors to determine when your vehicle has been in an accident, and sends a real-time alert to OnStar’s emergency advisors. Such vehicles also collect diagnostic information about the car’s transmission and other operating systems through sensor activity, automatically sending maintenance information to your preferred dealership.
IoT technology is not limited to consumer purchases, however; B2B companies, healthcare organizations, and government agencies are also using IoT-connected objects to streamline processes and improve outcomes.
For instance, a B2B logistics company can track its fleets’ locations through automated GPS updates, and send automated updates to customers when packages are about to arrive. In healthcare,“smart pills” can record physiological indicators in the body, which can be sent to a patient’s healthcare provider for assistance in monitoring a condition. City governments can make use of connected sensors to collect data about cities including pollution, temperature, light and sound, which can then be used to develop policies to improve transportation and safety,as Chicago is doing.
How the Internet of Things can transform just about everything
By making the most of IoT-equipped objects, we will be able to automate manual processes, use our data insights to trigger real-time actions in response to abnormal situations, and analyze data trends over time to develop improved policies and procedures across all industries.
In your day-to-day life, this might mean wearing a smart watch that tracks your daily steps and calories burned, or having a home lighting system that uses sensors to turn lights on and off as you move from room to room. IoT-enabled devices can predict your needs to maximize your comfort and security on a daily basis, and deliver insights about your behavior over time.
On a broader scale, IoT devices can help build intelligent systems in the enterprise, healthcare, nonprofit, and government sectors that gather vast quantities of data from object sensors; use that data to deliver real-time tracking and responses; and provide access to in-depth trends and analysis to shape business growth and public policy over years to come.