No blog post about the future trends of ICT is complete without the mention of Internet of things. You might have heard people talking about it in online forums or probably in seminars held at university after all there is a lot of fuss about this concept that seems to have just sprung out out of nowhere. So what does this Internet of things mean and why should we care?
WHAT THE FUSS IS ALL ABOUT?
Imagine an on-off switch. Now think about all the devices/appliances in your home, in your school, at your workplace, at your gym – BASICALLY EVERYWHERE that have an in-off switch. Now imagine ALL of these devices being connected to each other via a complex network called the “Internet of things”
Let’s go into a little more detail. What about the individual components in a device that have on-off switches of their own? For instance the engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig, well chances are, in the future individual components would be connected as well. Simply put, if anything has an on-off switch it can be connected to the IOT where it is basically connected to every other device that has an on-off switch. So the idea is that the IOT will establish connections like people-people, people-things and things-things hence, it’s no surprise that analyst firm Gartner estimates that by 2020 there will be 26 billion devices in the IOT.
EFFICIENCY EFFICIENCY EFFICIENCY
So why would anyone want their entire house “connected”? The answer is plain and simple: we’re always short on time. The fundamental concept of ICT is to make life easier and more efficient by allowing technology to take over most of our day to day tasks and of course provide energy efficient solutions to our problems. Just imagine a regular day in your life, now let the IOT take over: The alarm app in your phone wakes you up at say 7am and instantly sets the temperature of your shower to your liking. Then your coffee machine is notified when you’re halfway through your shower to start brewing coffee for you. Now say you ran out of coffee a couple of days ago but your coffee machine noticed that its running out of stock so it ordered more, online, on its own. Your car was notified of your schedule the previous night and the built in GPS is already searching for the best possible route to your workplace depending on the traffic. Not only will this increase efficiency but also save energy. You didn’t have to leave your shower running till the temperature of the water was set, you didn’t have to wait for your coffee and then when you sat in your car you would already know what the traffic is like and hence what the quickest route to your office is. The possibilities are endless.
Just take a moment to look around at the resources at our disposal and try to imagine a world where all of these resources are used responsibly and efficiently. Perfect, isn’t it? It is no rocket science to come to terms with the fact that we waste more than we use and there will surely come a time when these natural resources will run it. But what if we let the Internet of things help us keep track of our resources and our energy requirements? What if electricity consumption is monitored all over the city and every minute detail is recorded such as high consumption hours and low consumption hours and this data can be fed to the power plants to only produce electricity in required amounts. Industries will be connected directly to marketplaces and will know when their product needs improvement, restocking or discontinuation. They will know when exactly to order raw materials so as to not hamper the production process with delays in raw material delivery. They will have exact statistical data with regards to product manufacturing and how much of the product needs to hit the market – too much and the company stock will go down, too little and that wouldn’t be cost effective. The temperature control systems in our houses or in hotels/commercial areas will monitor the amount of people present in a particular area and turn up the air conditioning accordingly only in that specific area to save energy and cost. Imagine connecting everything with everything in an entire city and the illusion of a smart city will come to life where energy is conserved, life is more efficient and humans are kept from wasting.
Many multinational companies especially Silicon Valley giants employ the use of IOT in a bid to improve energy efficiency and make life convenient for employees.
CISCO monitors and controls the core services such as security, energy consumption and temperature control of all of its 300 offices worldwide from its 4 main offices and thus the company saves on excessive manpower and wastage of energy.
Manitoba Hydro’s new skyscraper in Winnipeg Canada houses a very advanced climate control system that consists of a huge man made “natural” humidifier, the components of which are: a steamy room which is several storeys tall filled with tropical plants and a water feature. The main climate control system monitors the composition of air in the building using sensors and uses this humidifier to blast moist air through the air ducts throughout the building to maintain a comfortable breathing/working environment in an otherwise cold and dry climate of Canada.
Smartwatches and wearable technology is the new thing and a major selling point of wearable tech is its inbuilt functionality to monitor one’s health and fitness. So I think wearables are all but lined up to go live on the IOT and if that happens the medical solutions that would be made possible would probably increase average life expectancy manifold. For instance your smartwatch or any other wearable tech would be in direct contact with your doctor and report any irregular incidents to your doctor (irregular heartbeat, difficulties in breathing etc.) and better yet even order your prescribed medication online for you! Suppose one day your wearables could detect cancer and immediately alert the hospital to schedule treatment as soon as possible.