Internet of Things (IoT) - what how and why?

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Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology that in future will change how we live and how we do our daily work.

You can on a daily basis read articles about IoT (Internet of Things) and how it's going to effect us and revolutionise us in our business day. But... What is it? How does it work? and Why are we seeing this development?

Amazon is set to launch Cloud services for IoT - take a look at the movie about Amazon´s IoT services  

More about how Amazon's Cloud service - AWS IoT worksWhat is Internet of Things (IoT)?All of our gadgets that surround us, are getting more intelligent and are able to start communication with their surroundings. They have built in sensors and integrated electronics/computing capabilities that can talk to other stuff/systems.

Already today there are sensors in the gadgets you wear, your smart mobile/watch (temperature, position, acceleration, speed, humidity, air pressure) In your home alarm (temperature, light, sound), In many white and grey goods and other home electronics you can find sensors that can measure different things and give meaningful signals to its surroundings. Another area in rapid development is our vehicles and transportation systems, with sensors that can help us drive safer, more efficient and reduce the risks when traveling in traffic, the waiting time in our transportation systems and the impact our cars have on the environment.Sensor- CommunicationThe "new" thing with IoT is that our gadgets are starting to communicate with their surroundings. Before, we had to look at different displays to get information (How long before the washing machine is ready? How much electricity have I used this month?) Today the gadgets are connected with WiFi, Bluetooth and other wireless technologies. The manufacturers also add "smart technology" "WiFi connected" to product names to push the possibilities .

Many of our new gadgets also have processing capabilities (CPU´s) -capabilities to measure, calculate, compute, process and store information. Together with communication capabilities you can get good advice and decision support from your gadgets, for example: "There isn't any milk in the fridge...", "The backdoor is unlocked, should it be locked?"  "Shall I lower the inner temperature? nobody is home at the moment", "Somebody forgot to activate the alarm in the house, shall I activate it?)

Another important factor for this development (that things/gadgets can communicate with web/Internet tech) is the implementation of IPv6 that made it possible for all things to have a real IP address. In the old system (IPv4) the addresses were about to run out. Lower costs for the electronics is also a driving factor, another important part is the synergy effect you get from combining information from different sensors and systems (1+1=3)

Things have developed extremely quickly from the coffee machine in Trojan Room in Cambridge to see if there is fresh coffee, to the integrated possibilities that you can find today in all of our gadgets and how we can benefit from all the info the sensors generate as part of the "Big Data" revolution.

Why IoT? - have I/we any benefits of IoT?Sadly today the manufacturers are talking a bit too much about the technology/performance/characteristics and not so much about the benefits and meaning for the ordinary consumer (but that´s always the case when new technology comes).

The meaning is easier to grasp when you actually start to use the things (Is the door looked? If not lock it!" "My son forgot the to our door, so I can unlock the door now" "Is everybody home from school/work, could we eat together when I arrive from work?" "Are we missing anything in the fridge, do I have to buy anything from the store?" "Are mum/dad in the store? What time do they come home? "How much electricity did we use last month, for heating, appliances? Can we save on anything?" "Do I have to train a little bit more to get to the weight I want?" How much daily exercise do I actually do?" "What do I have to do to reach my goal weight? - All of our gadgets/things help us to make different decisions!

The ultimate meaning is to make our lives a little bit easier, safer and better. We let our gadgets/things collect information to help us to make better decisions and give us intelligent advice. Today it´s mostly about control and the adjustment of gadgets and things - the smart home, the smart car, the smart audio/video system. (Hopefully) we are not only going to get a load of new information and possibilities, but we are getting tools for better decision making in our ordinary day, work/business day, when we go on a transportation system, drive our car, when we work, when we go shopping, when we exercise.Can we cope with all the information?In the beginning of the IoT revolution we are going to feel a lot of digital frustration "another interface to learn", "more information to take in", "more possibilities to use". Today I struggle to learn new functions and possibilities that I can do with all my stuff/gadgets, some of you also do not care how your coffee maker is feeling and how many hours your vacuum cleaner has been used this week, but if the information is used to give you practical advise in the right moment everything comes in another light. For example: when you're in the store you get a message on your smartphone saying "do not forget to buy tablets for your coffeemaker" or when you are near a shopping mall "You need to change bags/filters in the vacuum cleaner, the name of the right bags are M2403, cheapest price just now is on Currys near you for £12 ". The information the gadget generates is being processed and used in a practical way, Now we are talking!

The revolutionising things that are happening within the IoT area today is how the back office systems can receive data from all sensors, process it and draws conclusions adapted to my behaviour and profile and then give me good advice, counseling and intelligent questions back that I can say yes or no to. In this area, the production industry have come a long way with M2M (machine to machine communication) and applications within the B2B area (business to business) they already today use Big Data and AI (artificial Intelligence) in different decision making systems (finance, production, logistics) to make processes faster, better, efficient and in the end more profitable and environmentally sustainable.

IoT for smart cars and smart companiesIn our new cars there are hundreds of sensors that gather information when we use it. Some of the data can be used for a range of purposes for: minimising the costs, reducing risks, and making it easier to use a car.

Today's Fleet Management systems are using data from the on board computer (often through the OBD/CAN bus) together with information from GPS trackers and other administrative systems. Together the data can be used to study the options to reduce traffic risks, predict events that effect the driver and fleet owner. The systems make it easier to manage vehicles by saving time, money and the environment with the correct system in use.

IoT is going to change the possibilities and how we use our resources, vehicles, logistic and transportation systems. There is a revolution out of the public eye, the back office systems are gathering all of the data and information from sensors in vehicles from fleets, for different use and the real benefits come when the systems can process and adapt the information for different purposes and individuals and give intelligent questions and suggestions to the user and managers of vehicles and fleets.

The sensors are in place, the systems are up and running, the information is at hand, now its the time to get some practical use from IoT through different options.

What can IoT do for your company?

/Peter TillingDigital Manager at ABAX