What is the Internet-of-Things?
The Internet-of-Things or IoT is a network of devices (i.e. things) connected to the internet thanks to a system of sensors, software and wireless connectivity.
How does it work?
For IoT to work, things or devices are set up with sensors. The things can be anything including a fridge, a car, a can of milk or a piece of furniture. The sensors are built-in or tagged at the surface of the thing. They act like mini-computers or mini-cell phones that can sense the state of a thing, and send that information or signal to a remote data center. Sensors can provide information on the temperature of a thing, its level of vibration, its location on a map, other devices or people surrounding the thing and much more.
Technological advancements such as Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID), IPv6 (the most recent version of the internet), 5G network (a network 10 times faster than our current 4G network) have helped in making IoT more affordable and more accessible, and an essential tool for digital transformation for businesses.
What do you do with it?
IoT devices are essentially used to control the environment. For example, they can be used to switch a light bulb on and off. They can be used to regulate the temperature of a room thanks to the information gathered by these sensors. They can be used to automatically pre-order an emptying bottle of milk in a fridge.
On the manufacturing floor, they can be used to monitor the wear and tear of equipment parts, to pre-schedule and pre-order replacement parts before an equipment breaks down. This and many applications, make IoT an essential part of an automated future.
What are companies doing with it?
According to Gartner, there were 3.8 Billion connected IoT devices in 2018.
IoT enables companies to monitor and identify any problem occuring with products purchased by their customers, remotely, so they can have these issues fixed, before receiving a complaint or a call from their curtomers. This in turn improves the quality of the customer service, brand loyalty, and brand reputation.
With IoT, companies need not send their employees to at risk locations. Devices located in an environmentally harmful location, for employees, can be monitored by IoT sensors, substantially reducing the need of having a human on-site.
Finally, IoT devices could be used to detect faulty parts in a plane, reducing the risk of a potential crash once in the air, and saving countless of lives.
These are just a few ways, that IoT is bringing operational efficiency, and changing what it means to do business and interact in industry 4.0.