One of the most used phrases within technology circles currently is “Internet of Things” or IoT and relates to devices that are connected to the internet through embedded sensors that provide them with the ability to collect and exchange data without the need for human interaction.
You and your family
IoT enabled devices allow you to manage your wellbeing and look after loved ones, including:
Mimo uses proprietary sensor technology to give parents insight into their baby’s sleep – helping them see patterns they never thought existed and develop plans to improve sleep routines.
An IoT system that manages medication through a chip inside the cap that monitors when the pill bottle is opened and wirelessly relays alerts to you or a carer. In addition to this, a push button at the base of the lid makes refills easier than ever.
The Wellness solution for Alarm offers a secure option for independent living with the backup of understanding a person’s activity pattern and receiving alerts if it’s out of the ordinary.
Implementing IoT devices within your home allows you to monitor and manage your devices remotely, including:
Smart thermostats from Nest use IoT to help learn your family’s routines and automatically adjust the temperature as required, e.g. lowering the temperature when the house is empty and turning it up when you are due home. This management makes your house energy more efficient and helps you save money by reducing your heating bills.
These smart bulbs can automatically turn on or off depending on whether you are at home or out and about while still providing you with the facility to quickly and conveniently manage your lighting from any device that is connected to the internet.
When you have entered your pet information the system helps you calculate how much food is required and the most suitable type for your pet. From this information Petnet creates a personalised schedule and allows you to view real time alerts that keep you up to date on their eating habits and allow you to dispense treats remotely.
IoT provides businesses with the tools to manage resources more efficiently as well as insights on how to optimise systems to increase productivity and reduce costs, including:
Azure from Microsoft is used by companies such as Rolls Royce to provide more accurate insights. The system gathers engine sensor data as well as contextual information including air traffic control, route data, weather and fuel usage.
The en-Gauge system is a patented monitoring system that notifies the relevant authorities via email, SMS text or phone call when a fire extinguisher is blocked, missing from its designated location or when the pressure falls below safe operating levels.
This system is an innovative platform that analyses the shopper’s behaviour in front of the shelf and provides real time events and insights on how to improve sales.
Out and about
As technology advances, the systems within our towns and cities are becoming ever more interconnected, allowing local authority budgets to be used effectively, including:
This system notifies local services when a bin is full and needs emptying. This allows the number of pick-ups to be reduced which translates into fuel and financial savings.
This system alerts residents to overflow events so that they do not flush their toilets which will prevent polluting local waterways with raw sewage.
Echelon use IoT to ensure the city lights provide the correct level of light needed by the time of day, season and weather conditions. Cities that use this system have shown their energy usage has been reduced by up-to 30%.
What are the challenges?
Although the potential types of IoT applications are limitless, there are areas that need to be addressed to make sure that this next level of technology can become a success.
In 2015, Icontrol State of the Smart Home study found that 44% of all Americans were “very concerned” about the possibility of their information getting stolen from their smart home. This level of concern means that the public perception of this technology is one of fear and if IoT is to take-off, this issue needs to be addressed.
With the capability to monitor every action a person takes, IoT provides companies with an unbridled amount of data. A Federal Trade commission found that a single household could generate around 15,000 data points every day. These data points may allow manufacturers (and hackers) to eavesdrop on the day to day life of individuals and use the information when providing prices, e.g. car insurance calculated using driving habits or life insurance through fitness trackers.
As the number of connected devices increase, more entry points are provided to hackers and other cyber criminals. Researches at Microsoft and the University of Michigan highlighted this issue by bypassing the security of Samsung’s SmartThings smart home platform using techniques that were not that complex. Indeed, research carried out by AT&T Cybersecurity Insights found that only 10% of the companies that are developing IoT solutions were confident that they could secure their devices against hackers.