The Internet of Things
In recent years you may have heard a few new buzz words and phrases being thrown around casually in discussions regarding technology and business. Phrases like the “Forth Industrial revolution”, “Big Data” and the “Internet of Things” and you may want to know what it all means and how it will affect you. So, over a few blog posts I will attempt to explain some of these terms and ideas and how they may (Or may not) affect you.
IoT IoT stands for the “Internet of Things” and simply explained, it means bringing to devices that would never normally have had connectivity before.
IoT isn’t new, it has been around for years!
So, lets explain IoT using a device that everyone will be familiar with:
A vehicle tracker.
First there was a car alarm which could tell if your car was being stolen but had no way of contacting the outside world for help.
Then there were in car GPSs which could tell where your car was, but once again had no way of telling the outside world that information.
By adding connectivity to the above products, you now had a very effective solution that could alert you as soon as someone tried to steal your car and then allow you to find it and recover it. Since then trackers have evolved considerably and are invaluable tools for businesses to use to manage risk and costs both in terms of theft, monitoring driver behaviour and other efficiencies.
If it isn’t new, why should I be excited about it now? Recent technological developments in wireless networks have meant that IoT devices can now operate for years on a battery where before they needed to be charged every few days. This has opened a whole range of products and solutions that before weren’t possible.
So here are a few examples of what some new real IoT solutions that are providing real benefits that before weren’t possible
For example, there is a business in the USA that refills the gas cylinders people use for cooking and heating their homes in winter. They have an agreement with their customers that they will never be out of gas which means that they either had to constantly visit the people to check their gas tank. As you can imagine this was massively inefficient as they may fill a cylinder when it was almost full and there was no need to. They then developed an IoT product that could measure the amount of gas remaining in the cylinder and they only went to refill it when it had 20% left in it. But to do this they had to build their own entire IoT network (Similar to MTN or Vodacom) to get the information back to them. Despite this massive capital expenditure, the cost savings were so large that they continued to expand their network and now they run one of the largest IoT networks in the USA and the gas business is secondary.
The point of the story above is that the new technologies meant that they could have a battery powered device attached to the cylinder that could talk to the outside world telling them how full the tank was, and that knowledge saved them a huge amount by allowing them to streamline their business. This kind of product wasn’t possible a few years back and that is why IoT is so exciting.
To end off, here are a few real IoT solutions in the world now and we will review some of these in future blog posts.
Water leak detectors
Real time sports trackers