We know you’ve heard a lot of discussions about the internet of things (IoT). Here’s how IoT works, in a simple definition.
IoT takes multiple devices and connects them to a cellular network connection. IoT devices are connected to the internet through the same cellular networks that power mobile phones.
Such connected devices (think retail POS machines, GPS tracking units, mobile advertisements in taxi cabs) are considered a part of an IoT network when they communicate back and forth with a central hub.
SIM cards and radio technology in these devices which enables these devices to connect to a cellular network and communicate with a central hub. This opens up endless possibilities for technological solutions that can function without human-to-device interaction.
Real-world Example of IoT
If you’re reading this post from your phone, computer, or tablet, odds are you’re currently using IoT software. If you drove somewhere today or took public transportation, you most likely relied on IoT technology.
Here is a simple example:
Car manufacturers use IoT technology to keep improving the safety and functionality of features in the car. When the car is manufactured, SIM cards and sensors are placed in the car. When you drive in your car, messages can be sent to the manufacturer's central hub. The central hub collects that data, helps it understand the performance of its vehicles and interpret patterns with real-world events.
The hub can also use the information to diagnose problems or send routine alerts. For instance, sensors in your car can detect when the air is low in your tire. The sensors in the car send this information to the central hub. The hub can analyze this information and send an alert to the manufacturer’s app on your phone telling you to add air to your tire.
Additionally, the car’s sensors could detect that the music app in your stereo has malfunctioned twice that month. Other cars are also explaining this same issue and all of them are sending the data back to the manufacturer. With all of this information, the manufacturer is able to identify why the music app is crashing. This allows the manufacturer to be constantly updating their product and meeting your user needs.
What Is an IoT Platform?
Like we’ve mentioned, IoT devices are connected to a centralized system. Devices in an IoT network pass data to the central hub, such as a device location, temperature, and even the metrics or values from a medical test. The hub stores, analyzes and interprets this data. Then, it decides which information is relevant and how to respond to it. To decide how to respond, the platforms need to detect patterns, compare those patterns to previous circumstances, and identify the proper solution to match the data.
For instance, a vehicle transporting meat needs to stay at a certain temperature, say 20°F. This vehicle has sensors that detect the temperature is currently 24°F. Using the connectivity that IoT offers, the vehicle transmits this information to the IoT platform. The platform recognizes that this temperature is higher than it ought to be, and relays information back to the vehicle to turn on air-cooling.
The term IoT platforms, can also be used to describe dashboards or portals that report on IoT cellular data insights. SIMON IoT customers can view all data passed through the hub via the IoT portal, which serves as a database for all device activity, data usage, and allows users to remotely activate and manage their connected devices.
What Is an IoT Sensor?
IoT sensors track information such as location, humidity, and temperature. They are able to measure a physical phenomenon and transmit that into an electrical signal. They are integral in receiving the information that the IoT platform can analyze and respond to.
For instance, in a smart home system an IoT sensor could detect that the temperature in your home rose from 67°F to 73°F. Or, in the case of a car, a sensor would detect when your tire pressure drops. In both these cases the IoT platform would use this information gathered by the sensors to determine what they transmit to other IoT devices. In the case of the smart home the IoT platform might be programmed to flag 73° as too hot. In that case, it would send a signal to the home’s thermostat to turn on the air conditioning.
What Is IoT in Different Industries?
Among today’s industries, there are a myriad of IoT applications and the list will only keep growing. Here are a few ways that certain industries are currently using IoT.
IoT health technology, including automation in healthcare, provides insights on patient wellness and opportunities for improvement. This information paves the way for improved patient health.
Healthcare IoT software can improve patient outcomes in a myriad of ways.
IoT enables healthcare professionals to be more watchful and connect with the patients proactively, monitor their health conditions, track progress, etc.
Through remote telematics, IoT technology allows healthcare professionals to more easily access patients in remote areas, diagnose medical issues, and monitor health conditions.
Elderly patients’ lives have been changed by IoT’s ability to constantly track health conditions.
In addition to improving the patients’ health, these benefits and others contribute to cost-efficiency.
Public transportation relies on IoT software to update transportation scheduling and track safety risks. Fleet transportation can also use IoT to reroute their vehicles, ships, or trains. Often temperature-sensitive inventory is being transported long distances and IoT can automatically regulate temperatures in the transportation units.
Like we just explained in our car example, manufacturing companies can use IoT to give them feedback on their products and allow them to improve their products for the future.
IoT applications can facilitate the production flow, since the technology can track inventory, monitor development cycles, and monitor warehouses. It’s also possible to eliminate the need for manual tracking of items, and improve supply chain management by getting meaningful estimates of available inventory, equipment locations, and expected deliveries.
Selling items requires tracking large quantities of inventory and processing millions of payments each hour with optimal security. IoT devices like smart shelves can detect inventory numbers and help retail companies more effectively optimize their supply chain and the flow of traffic in stores.
What Is IoT in Our Personal Lives?
IoT can have a positive impact on our lives by the data and insights it collects about our behavior and surroundings. Through these IoT ecosystems, businesses are able to understand more about the users needs, product wins and defaults, and factors that affect their solution offerings. Application developers can better understand where their user base exists and how to meet the demand for a product in a geographic area. With this information these businesses can derive powerful insights that can save costs, cut expenditures, drive efficiency, and meet user needs.