Look at any technology blog and you’ll find at least one article about IoT—probably written today. Or maybe you’ve seen IBM’s new Watson commercials. But what is IoT? And what does it mean for our lives?
IoT is the Internet of Things. Basically, it just means that objects can be connected to each other and to your control via WiFi—so you can control your lights, your thermostat, and even your door locks through the Internet. If you’re thinking “Alexa, play my napping playlist,” you’re on the right track. In one sense, IoT is really just a lot of small connections—nothing major, just devices being connected and interconnected. But in another sense, IoT is a technological leap that will have far-reaching impact on our lives. The telephone connected people to each other, then the Internet took that connection further, connecting people to real-time information. Now, IoT is going to even further reaches of our imagination, connecting people to their objects, connecting objects to other objects, and allowing sophisticated communication between them.
IoT is being used across the spectrum of life—from basic home applications to agriculture. These are just a few of the ways IoT is being applied to improve our daily lives.
IoT is being implemented in the healthcare industry in a variety of ways. One simple but powerful use is RFID tags for inventory tracking.
RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags use electromagnetic fields to allow objects to be tracked and identified quickly and easily. RFID was originally used to track livestock. Now it is growing in popularity as a way to keep track of hospital inventory. Hospitals usually over-order crucial supplies to prevent running out. It’s hard to predict use of some items, though, and often the over-ordering results in tied-up funds and overstock.
With RFID, tracking supplies and measuring use becomes much easier, and historic data allows improved usage prediction. This allows hospitals to better manage their resources while ensuring excellent patient care.
If you thought you would escape this blog without hearing about drones, you’re about to be disappointed. Drones have extensive connection to IoT, especially in the world of agriculture. Farmers are now able to monitor their crops and weather conditions from afar using their smart phones connected to drones.
In the past, satellites have provided farmers with images of their crops. With drones, the images are below clouds and higher-resolution. And cheaper. For large crops, drones can provide information about conditions in areas that would be difficult for the farmer to access in a fraction of the time. This allows for better, more efficient crop management that results in improved yield.
Probably the most familiar use of IoT is in everyday life. If you have a fitbit, you’re already part of the Internet of Things. People are constantly finding unique and creative ways to put IoT to work to make their lives better.
One wide application is home security. There are many IoT options to improve the security of your home, including cameras that can be remotely controlled from your smartphone, security system connections, and many other options.
Many household appliances now have the ability to connect to IoT—everything from your thermostat to your baby monitor.
The continual advancement of IoT is allowing more and more people to have access to high-tech solutions to daily inconveniences at a low cost.
The individual connections may be small, but the possibilities for IoT are endless. What creative ways have you seen IoT being used?