The Internet of Everything

10 Real world applications for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is reshaping the world connecting everything from cows, to cars, to beds and everything in between. Recent projections from the technology research firm Gartner estimate that there will over 6.4 billion connected items by the end of 2016.

Whilst we are still in the early stages of developing the IoT ecosystem we are already starting to see glimpses of what is possible when you connect sensors, actuators, and network intelligence. Here are 10 ways that IoT is already impacting life, business and the global economy.

1. Connected Cars

Cars are already playing a major role in the development of IoT. As software takes centre stage in the industry it is estimated that by 2020 there will be over 250 million connected cars on our roads. Will be a drivers can be notified of congestion on their usual routes. Using a wireless internet connection, drivers are warned of safety risks, speed limits and crashes. IoT technology can also help drivers to locate their vehicle, check fuel/battery levels and make sure that the car is locked.

2. Connected Buildings

Imagine you leave the house in a rush and forget to lock the front door. Your connected house recognises that the door is open and sends a notification to your smartphone. This isn’t just about security, either. You could set your connected house to turn off lights in empty rooms using motion sensors, saving energy and therefore bills. Using IoT in corporate buildings also saves on general costs, helping businesses to run more efficiently.

3. Wearables

Devices like FitBit use GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring and other personal metrics to store data in the wearer’s smartphone. Wearable devices have an obvious function in informing the wearer about different aspects of their health, but can also be used for more recreational purposes. Pokémon GO creator Niantic recently announced the release of Pokémon GO Plus, a wearable which lets users play the popular Augmented Reality game without actually touching their phone.

4. Healthcare

Through BodyGuardian, the health of patients can be monitored as they go about their lives freely instead of being confined for physical observation.  GlowCaps is a product which sends notifications to the user when it’s time for them to take their medicine, as well as carrying out automatic refills when the supply is low.  IoT also facilitates mass online databases containing patient information, consolidated in on secure location.

5. Industry

By collecting and storing accurate data, IoT technology can help companies to identify and respond to problems quickly, saving both time and money. In manufacturing, industrial IoT checks the production rate and also the quality of products. When products are shipped, trackers alert the business of any problems during delivery and confirm that the item has successfully arrived. In big industries like gas and oil and electric, IoT monitors levels of demand and automatically responds to them, continually saving time, money and labour.

6. Agriculture

Wearables aren’t just for humans. Dairy farmers have been using wearable devices to track the health and movements of their cows to find the best time for insemination. IoT also helps farmers to keep an eye on crops. Deepfield Robotics has created a new tool for Asparagus farmers, who have to pay close attention to the temperature of their soil. By measuring temperate and sending notifications directly to the farmer, IoT removes the need to physically check the soil.

7. Wildlife Protection

By fitting lions with tracking collars, GROUND Lab is working to restore a harmonious ecosystem in Kenya using networked M2M devices and GPS tracking. The trackers alert Maasai tribes when lions are close to their cattle and store data about the survival of lions in that area. This technology could help wildlife protection organisations to keep track of the number and health of the animals in their care.

8. Natural Disasters

Using acoustic sensors and wireless networking, the University of Loughborough has developed ALARMS (Assessment of Landslides using Acoustic Real-time Monitoring Systems). ALARMS tracks acoustic sounds, identifying the danger and size of landslides. This technology could be life-changing for those who live in areas where there is a high risk of landslides, notifying them when they are about to happen and how destructive they will be.

9. Retail

IoT has proved useful for the world of retail, providing valuable market research. Customers can use their phones to scan or search for items, which are stored as ‘favourites’. By keeping track of regular purchases, customers save time when shopping. As well as this, retailers can use the information to send targeted advertisements and offers to specific customers. Smart shelves can detect when supply is low, improving the customer experience and maximising profits. Other possibilities include smart price tags, which change in accordance with supply and demand.

10. Connected City

Last year the city of Bristol announced ‘Bristol is Open’, a multi-million pound project which will turn the urban centre into a smart city. Using big data, Bristol has created a ‘city networks operating system’, which works alongside Bristol University’s powerful supercomputer. It provides access to a vast network of data from traffic controls to crime rates. Through recording data, city councils can help to ensure that all aspects of city life run smoothly, creating a time and cost-efficient solution to urban problems.