- We keep hearing the phrase "The Internet of Things", but what exactly does that mean? Unlike the Internet, The Internet of Things is not simply a collection of cat videos on YouTube, Facebook posts, and goodies bought on Amazon.com. "The Internet of Things", known as 'IoT' or perhaps 'Internet 2.0' goes far beyond the current Internet in that it promises to profoundly change the way that we live in and experience the world, as well as how we do business.
- The Internet of Things may be better phrased: "Things on the Internet"... smart things that is. IoT is all about the current exponential rise of tens of billions of tiny, smart and cheap Internet-connected sensors placed all around the visible and invisible world... sensors that can be messaged as well as send messages back to us and each other. Sensors that can adjust to you and your business and adapt intelligently.
- Three things... sensors, global networks and the Cloud are all empowering IoT growth because of its economic and social benefits. Sensor capabilities continue to grow, while cloud, network and sensor prices continue to plummet. IoT sensors are really good at one thing... measuring the data in systems and reporting those measurements to a centralized cloud that has a deep analytic infrastructure capable of computing enormous volumes of data at light speed.
- For centuries we have had inefficient data collection around business operations, manufacturing and engineering. How do we instantly know that what we made is working like it was intended in the real world? We don't - until now. We can finally eliminate operational inefficiencies, productivity losses, and even improve health and safety risks. As the saying goes: "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.' Now we can. IoT now gives us 'The Measured Life'.
- As an example, let's consider a hospital that wants to improve the lives of asthmatic children by sponsoring an IoT project. Imagine a cloud-connected infrastructure of wearable smart sensors that constantly measure heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and activity level; the hospital can give the children and their care givers a much higher level of near real-time care and oversight.
- This is all based on a reusable IoT architecture that involves a project sponsor (in our case the hospital), that wants to oversee a population of things (in our case, children wearing smart sensors). These sensor-connected 'things' are then introduced to a vast cloud-computing infrastructure that can nearly real-time process, store, report, and alert on millions of streaming data points. This all based on the business requirements of the sponsor and benefactors (which in our case is the hospital, the children and their caregivers). This end-to-end, repeatable architecture leads to improved services and outcomes in almost every industry (which in our case leads to quality of life for the asthmatic children, peace of mind for their caregivers, and profit for the hospital).
- One important aspect of this IoT architecture is the use of powerful machine learning algorithms. Machine learning services can inspect each packet of data flowing through the cloud and can create algorithms on-the-fly that can learn from, and make predictions on the data as it streams in. An example, from the aforementioned asthmatic scenario, would be for machine learning algorithms to learn and notify caregivers in real time of respiratory events that are classified as normal, predicted, anomalous, or even dangerous.
- Every industry benefits from the vital streaming capacities of IoT. Industries are becoming dramatically optimized, enabling key scenarios like predictive maintenance, remote monitoring, asset management and population health. Economic and social incentives will continue to accelerate the growth of IoT... allowing for new scenarios and services in both the private and public sector... all enabled by smart sensors, the cloud and cheap, global networks.