The Internet of Things (IoT) is essentially a massive communication tool that’s able to send and receive encrypted and unencrypted data. Business, of course, needs data, fresh real-time data every single day. Connected IoT devices can gather that data perhaps better than any other tech to date. However, the true magic is in the Internet of Things uses for this data.
The IoT has its fans and sceptics, as does every new technology. Virtual reality, for instance, faced years of backlash due to public misconceptions. However, as people have begun to understand its capabilities the case has quickly changed. I believe the same will happen with the IoT, except much more quickly, as real-world Internet of Things uses are just starting to make the awesomeness of the technology clear for all to see.
Internet of Things Uses At Home
Connected devices can be used to monitor your home, reacting when a leak occurs and making the necessary arrangements to fix it. It could control your heating and your lights, making your home or office more energy-efficient, by detecting when you or I enter and leave a room and acting accordingly. Sounds cool, right? Well, that’s just the tip of the IoT iceberg.
IoT technology is already being installed in a number of household devices, including clothing, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and vehicles. These devices are able to interact with one another, exchanging information to better serve you, their master.
You can find out a bit more about the cool things in the smart home of the future by checking out this post from when Michele and I visited a very awesome concept smart home in London.
Personally, I think it’s great that machines are starting to communicate with one another via structured code – it could truly change our lives. What’s more, actionable change is already occurring on the business side of Internet of Things uses too.
For example, energy companies want to know how a building is being used. With IoT tech, you can monitor the size of the building and rooms within it and see how a building is performing compared to a building of a similar size for a similar purpose.
Internet of Things Uses In Smart Cities
One of the functions of IoT within the upcoming ‘smart city’ that it is believed we will all be living in before long, is helping to make cities safer. Smart street lighting, for example, and autonomous vehicles.
Speaking of vehicles, it’s not just the self-driving cars that will change the way we move around our cities in future. Smart traffic lights are being developed in order to make roads safer, using predictive analysis to control when lights change. Used across a city, this technology has serious potential for alleviating traffic congestion, as it will be able to work in real-time, reacting to different pressure points across the city and controlling the flow of vehicles appropriately.
On the streets themselves, the IoT can be used to identify risk areas, perhaps where the crime rate is higher or there is more likely to be fire, in theory allowing budgets to be allocated more usefully within a constituency. I say ‘in theory’, because these are factors that are susceptible to a lot of constantly changing variables. I’d be interested to see how this would work in a real-world setting.
The Urban Environment
The Internet of Things is also set to have a positive effect on the environment, particularly the urban environment where air pollution is a serious problem. Using connected devices, we can begin to correlate cause and effect when it comes to air pollutants and can monitor real-time data to constantly assess and improve factors within the physical environment that contribute towards air quality. Taking things further, we could use the IoT to reward households that take steps to improve the air quality in their neighbourhoods and monitor where the good and bad output is occurring.
At the end of the day, the IoT is a communication tool and a predictive analytics platform. And, as humans know, communication is probably the most effective tool we have. When we extend our communication beyond the interpersonal, working with machines that contain high quantities of organised data which far exceed human capability, then we can improve so many aspects of society immeasurably.
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Whilst you may not consider the Internet of Things an AI, this is essentially what it is – and far from flinching at the idea, we should be avidly embracing this new form of intelligence. Predictive analytics combined with strong human-machine communication will be the force that drives us into a new and better tomorrow. It’s a future I cannot wait to be a part of.