The thing with technology and connectivity is that it’s like a never-ending television series, the moment you think, ‘Ok, this might be it’, there comes another series! One innovation after the other. From one invention began another invention and from that, rose a few more, then to hundred more…. to unlimited and unimaginable predictions of scientific innovations that are yet to come. It is indeed a never ending conquest, which is also the reason that keeps it interesting all the while. From the invention of computers to the invention of the internet, we have come a long way to just sit and wait for things to happen. We are now in an era of booming technology that is making those things possible which we could have never imagined from decades ago. We carry so much of information in our hands via our cell phones, which again, is not just limited to calls, texts, playing games, Google search, or booking a cab among others but has now expanded to control numerous devices from a distance over the internet connectivity. This technological advancement is often termed as ‘Internet of Things (IoT)’ and has applications in consumer smart home applications, building and home automation, infrastructure, agriculture, environmental monitoring, medical & healthcare, manufacturing, energy management, old-age care and numerous others. It works on a simple concept, connecting all the devices, things or products with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) along with routers, actuators and sensors like temperature sensors, moisture sensors, light sensors, a motion sensor etc. and saves that data for future predicaments of their functionality over the internet. This is exactly like how our body works after getting sensory signals from the brain which further makes it a part of artificial intelligence which we have covered in our previous article. With the help of intelligent algorithms based on the data collected on daily patterns, there are so many possibilities when it comes to the Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
With rising global population, there is a huge demand for food. IoT-based smart farming in agriculture industry can help the farmers to monitor crop field, livestock, storage combined with farm vehicle tracking, variations in weather conditions, humidity and soil moisture with the help of sensors from anywhere. Also, it helps in greenhouse farming where IoT sensors control the actuators via Wi-Fi to control a heater or automatically turn on the lights, open a window etc. based on temperature, light and pressure levels. This will allow farmers to grow clean and healthy crops, vegetables and fruits by enhancing the productivity and reducing waste along with efficient water usage. In-flight observations with integrated geographic information system (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS) to gather data by monitoring the crop with their health assessment, spraying, land surveillance, imaging, mapping and overall field analysis with automated and regular patrols via agricultural drones are booming in the field of IoT-based precision farming to depict crop health insights and prediction whilst also increasing the agriculture output. Moving on to livestock, there are tracking collars that track the cattle activities like their movement, health or finding their location in real time in case they have deviated away from the herd. These patterns are saved as data in a database and with the help of intelligent algorithms on these patterns, the farmers can predict the monotony via the movement of the cattle and help them to be more focused towards the pregnant animals.
As far as the GIS and GPS are concerned, we can also predict the weather condition and enhance smart transportation when combined with remote sensing technology. The IoT-based sensors in weather systems are installed on wipers, windshields and tires of the car that collects and saves the data such as motion, temperature, air pressure and visibility of light etc. from moving automobiles on the road for further analysis and providing real-time monitoring resulting in more accurate analysis of the automobile and weather forecast. Its prompts the vehicle if there is any sort of leakage or other malfunctioning in the car. According to Research Nester, a leading service provider for strategic market research and consulting, the global smart transportation market is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 19.5 % between the years 2017 and 2024 owing to the demand for integrated intelligent communication systems for better safety and security due to increasing number of on-road vehicles and existing futile transport infrastructure. The IoT-based weather prediction is still in progress in weather forecasting system, airways and smart transportation and energy sector among others.
IoT in energy sector provides greater flexibility, management, reliability, security, customer service etc. combined with reduction in energy losses which further cuts down the operational cost. Applications of IoT in energy sector are energy management, mobile workforce management, field surveillance, monitoring of equipment and power distribution. The main factor that is driving the growth of IoT in energy sector is the need for knowing the energy consumption for energy saving and promoting the green culture which means adopting lifestyle decisions such as adjusting the energy consumption accordingly combined with using renewable resources while reducing the usage of non-renewable resources. This can be achieved by smart meters that help the consumers to know the overall impact and cost of average energy consumption by each appliance installed, on a single remote display that further allows the user to turn on and turn off the appliances not in use from a centralized interface. Further, it will help to create an energy profile for the consumer as well as for the people who are looking forward to buy a particular appliance with respect to its power rating and energy consumption. However, high cost of new smart meter, technology up gradation and safety of personal data are some of the concerns that might deter the demand for smart meters in upcoming years. With the anticipated market valuation by Research Nester, the global IoT market in energy sector is expected to reach USD 26.5 Billion by 2023.
The internet of things has a wide range of applications, few of which when combined together can relate to the idea of a smart city as it covers many individual smart IoT sectors such as smart street lighting, smart retail, smart building, smart automated parking, smart home, smart video surveillance and monitoring, smart healthcare and others. Smart meters, as discussed earlier, also play a major role in the formation of smart cities. The IoT in smart cities helps the consumers to know about their energy consumption details along with the services required for any ongoing leakage, whether it’s in electricity, gas or water supply via real-time access and analysis of that information. Also, the internet of things helps in improving public safety in traffic and transportation with real-time insights by alerting the drivers with less jammed routes because of the peak hours or accidents and for transportation authorities to implement emergency plans for safe and consistent public transportation.
The overall smart city management system uses the real time information to enhance the quality of their residents’ life and helps in increasing energy conservation by reducing energy consumption and motivating consumers to use the energy effectively by highlighting the areas of energy consumption that can be avoided; improving public safety by video monitoring systems and video analytics software; smart street lighting, the intensity of which can be increased at a desired time with the help of motion sensors depending on the presence of a moving person or automobile, people waiting at the bus stop to let the bus driver know from a faraway distance that he/she has to stop the bus at that very bus stop; smart parking services to let the drivers know about the available parking slots and remotely opening and closing of garage doors; smart toilet seats for health and hygienic concerns with features such as anti-bacterial seats, UV sterilization, instant and constant water heating with hygienic fresh water along with healthy feminine cleaning and standard PP cotton filter to filter out impurities such as dirt, worms, sand, rust etc. and IoT in Healthcare has intelligent connected devices to monitor (remotely as well) the activities of the patient and when there is irregularity in their pattern, it alerts the system of the deteriorating of the patient’s condition or indicates an awaiting disease while maintaining the overall readings and status of the vitals of the patient.
Hence, to sum up the overall IoT in all these sectors, we can conclude that it improves the overall energy efficiency, personal cleanliness, saves time, reduces traffic congestion and pollution, helps in waste management, makes the areas less prone to disasters and enhances public safety and services by using the real-time analysis of the data received over the internet. Despite the security concerns related to hacking of personal data and internet malfunction, we can expect ourselves to be living in one of these cities in a few years down the lane, or at least be able to afford some part of this technology!
Kevin Ashton, the man behind the term, “internet of things”, defined IoT in a simple quote, “If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best.”