There’s so much being talked about the “Internet of things”, or IOT as it’s commonly referred to and I think 2016 will usher in a bit of a tipping point for this new type of technology. But whilst it’s easy to see how an IOT gadget can help around the home, such as in a camera or doorbell or security sensor, or be a kind of fun gadget type of thing like a wearable or powered NFC type tag that can be used to find your keys, just why is everyone talking about IOT so much and how the heck can it help business and enterprise?
Well I thought i’d try and help us business folk with a short blog that answers some of the most common questions i’ve been asked in the past few months and here they are:
What makes something an IOT device, opposed to say a sensor that my alarm has had for over 30 years?
Although new technology has allowed for crazy useful IOT gadgets to be made such as doorbells or Wireless security cameras, it’s not just about the gadgets themselves. It’s also about collecting new information that was not collectible before and then mashing that information up with all kinds of other data to bring new, super useful information to us in a timely manner.
So technically the difference between the IR sensor in your old alarm and one say in the Samsung IOT hub series is that the one in the Samsung series can react to what other sensors are doing or reporting, so it can behave differently when a door is open or when a certain member of the home is in or away and it can also automatically set other sensors or devices depending on a whole host of internal or external information available to it.
Why does everyone rave about them?
For me it’s about all the information that IOT is collecting that was always there but we simply never knew!! In it;s simplest form, this could be information from a security camera system that when linked to the weather and other cameras can start to work out behaviours or patterns. Or it could be about garden sensors that are bringing in brand new data about your soil, plants and the weather in order to give you garden health updates and to automate certain jobs such as lawn mowing or watering.
Why are IOT devices apparently going to replace my smartphone?
I personally don’t think the smartphone device will go away any time soon, but I do think it’s role will change hugely and that will happen quite soon. It’s all about pulling and pushing of information.
Currently we as humans decide what we want to see in terms of the data we consume and we tend to “Pull” that data when we feel like we need it. For example we will open our smartphone if we need to find out what the weather is doing and we’ll tend to repeat this process multiple times per hour.
However with all the information that IOT devices can collect we need a more intelligent way to consume data. Firstly we need it in a coherent manner for our consumption and secondly we need to be presented with that data in timely manner, when it is useful to us rather than trying to constantly check for it.
How does this help business?
Well in an enormous number of ways. Firstly the automation aspect will mean many things will not only be automated but will be done way better than us lowly humans did it! For example rather than scanning parcels and then checking a website for delivery information, what if each parcel was self aware of itself and where it was? The parcel could actually decide to give you tracking updates, choose which driverless van to hop in to and also could be easily re-routed on demand. Warehouses could be continually optimised for maximum speed of picking or for maximum storage efficiency, just like a modern SAN storage system too.
Ease of use is also a big factor for me. Computers or smartphone era technology has typically left older users behind because it brings a level of complexity with it. By removing the human aspect, IOT solutions actually make things simple for us so they will be uniformly easy to use and make life easier for all of us. Simple always = business opportunities.
Will this mean that jobs are lost?
Put simply yes it does and we’re already seeing “The age of automation” take manufacturing jobs and many white collar jobs too that can be easily automated or improved upon by using IOT technology. Jobs will be lost in frightening numbers but we’ll just have better ones! how many coal miners, car builders, lamp lighters, Quarrymen, secretaries and switchboard operators do you know these days? There’ll always be jobs, just different ones.
Seriously thought, how quickly is this new world going to take to get here?
Well some would argue that it’s here already, I mean when was the last time you visited a car manufacturing plant or a modern warehouse? You might be shocked! I’d argue it’s all still in a very first draft mode but every new 12 months see huge leaps and bounds forward and it’s going to be here sooner than we all think in earnest. I think a world where automation, relying on IOT networks is just round the corner and only a few years away.