How Is IoT Emerging as Next Technology Mega Trend to Transform our Future?

Prashanta Ghoshal, Director - IT Solutions, Geometric Ltd. | Friday, 30 June 2017, 12:33 IST

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Ever since man started harnessing nature and other elements around him to create ‘things’ which were essentially tools and then evolved into devices and machines, to improve our health, productivity and overall quality of life. These ‘things’ have now evolved into complex smart and connected entities which are getting more and more autonomous of human involvement day by day.

Today we are in that unique stage of evolution, where the processing capabilities can be built into miniature and inexpensive devices and embedded into the articles of our daily use and even within ourselves. Communication and wireless technologies allow real-time communica­tion between the physically distributed devices across the world. Cloud based data storage capabilities are available for storage and retrieval of the data generated across the world. Analytics engines like Big Data have arrived to process the massive amounts of information from the billions of devices to make sense out of it all.

To add the final piece, we have the all-pervasive internet to tie all this together into one massive global collaboration platform along with the humans thus completing the ecosystem for the next big shake up in our lives.

Up to this time internet was known to be a network of people but now we will be joined there by billions of these connected devices and effectively each person on the internet will also have a plethora of smart devices connected to himself streaming information about his health, environment, location, activities and so on, on a continual basis.

The implications of this revolution on our individ­ual lives as well as the way our cities, traffic, industries, manufacturing units and offices work are enormous and will match the impact of the industrial revolution and that of the IT revolution had in the past.

The two broad areas of application of this tech­nology can be classified into the Human IoT (HIoT) and Industrial IoT. HIoT refers to transforming ar­ticles of day to day use or automating our personal activities like:

1. Wearable devices gathering and processing health, climate, location related information

2. Household devices for automating many of our day to day activities like maintaining temperatures, ambi­ent lighting, cleanliness

3. Ensuring efficient usage of ener­gy, water and other resources

4. The most well-known manifesta­tion of HIoT are the development of “Smart Cities” which envision build­ing of new cities with these tech­nologies built into the infrastructure right from design, bringing efficien­cies as well as cost savings in areas like:

5. Health care and Public Safety

6. Public transport, Traffic and Parking

7. Energy, Lighting, Water and Pollution management

8. Waste management

9. Early warning and dis­aster management

The other area of application is In­dustrial IoT (IIoT) which pertains to application of these technologies to Manufacturing processes. An exam­ple of such applications are “Smart Machines” with integrated sensors to capture real-time production data and communicate them immediate­ly between different machines and components on the shop floor. This will allow quicker analysis and corrective measures for im­pending problems and in­efficiencies. Such technolo­gies harnessed properly, can dramatically improve quality, efficiency, speed and safety on the production floors. Some of the examples are:

1. Machine to Ma­chine (M2M) con­trol applications

2. Telemetry

3. Quality and Safety monitor­ing like vibrations and wear and tear analysis

4. Fleet and Asset tracking

5. Vehicle and machine auto-diagnosis

There are numerous other appli­cations in the fields of agriculture, metrology, and defence and so on.

The other major transformation will be in the way business is done. The ability of all future devices to provide usage and various other types of data both to the manufac­turer and the consumer will funda­mentally alter the way purchases are done and customer service is provid­ed. The clearest example in this case is the auto industry where the vehi­cles will be smart enough to iden­tify the problems automatically and inform the consumer as well as the manufacturer along with the solu­tions. Consumer usage patterns can be captured so that the components can be optimized along with custom­izing the customer service contracts to provide optimal performance and service. This also brings enormous challenges in its wake requiring sub­stantial technical and infrastructure changes as well as development of legal frameworks.

As with the other advances in our past the human race will deal with these challenges appropriate­ly. Overall many things that take our time and attention will just get completely automated and handled intelligently by the devices them­selves and in a much better manner obsoleting many present day jobs. This should improve the quality of our lives dramatically and also free up our minds for more intellectu­ally stimulating occupations thus making this a truly exciting time to live in.

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