“Smart” is a pronoun no longer reserved only for describing people. With new IoT technologies, your refrigerator, water heater, stove and vacuum cleaner, can also share this attribute with us, humans.
What makes these objects smart? Well, firstly, as they are connected to the internet, you are able to control them much easier via a device such as a phone, laptop, or a tablet, giving you the opportunity to control the device settings remotely. For example, if you forgot to turn off your vacuum cleaner, you can do so from the comfort of your own office. You can program these smart devices to activate the lights when you enter a room, or to turn off the heating when the room reaches a set temperature.
IoT devices are increasingly popular for personal users, as well as within various industries. This technology offers the possibility of interconnection and machine to machine communication, creating a web of devices that helps us manage work and chores easily.
When we think of IoT, one of the first things that comes to our mind is a voice control device, or other devices that help as control home attributes like temperature, lighting, entertainment systems, appliances, and alarm systems. These devices are the future of smart houses, and not only are they becoming important in everyday life, they are also impacting the real-estate market. Smart homes are in demand, and their resale value is higher, compared to a regular house.
Medical IoT devices offer personalized approaches to healthcare. Some examples are fitness bands, blood pressure and heart rate monitoring cuffs, and glucometers. These devices can help health conscious people monitor their health parameters and work as a positive reinforcement for healthy habits. For example, the fitness app can reward you with positive points if you complete your daily cardio.
These devices are the future of urban living, allowing citizens to be active members of society. IoT can greatly contribute to environmentally friendly policies and behavior, as we could have more information about the waste management, air quality and pollution etc. Analyzing the information gathered through IoT, local governments can make better evidence-based policies concerning the pressing issues in the community.
The future of smart, self-driving cars is just around the corner. Smart cars can already share information and improve our driving experience, and these IoT devices improve incredibly fast. Using highly sophisticated machine learning algorithms, smart cars are the driving force of the transportation industry innovation.
In the Amazon-dominated world, where customers expect fast delivery around the world, smart warehouses are becoming a necessity. They can increase productivity and efficiency of the business, automating many manual aspects of work. Using smart warehouse solutions, it is easy to keep track of all objects, orders and shipping.
Imagine this scenario: while you are cooking your favorite food in the kitchen, the smart stove is communicating it with your a.c., cooling down the room. Or, your smart lock sends you a notification that somebody tried to enter the house without permission. These are just some simple examples of M2M communication, which also has important applications in the industry, and it increases productivity and efficiency.
Through gathering data, such as activity, inventory tracking etc., IoT devices improve the efficiency of the system. Big data is analyzed to generate new opportunities and predict everything: from customer behavior, to stock control. Using our devices in homes and schools, we gather more personal data and more predictive techniques can be applied to improve our quality of life.
Smart city is not yet a buzzword, it is an opportunity to better use our urban resources. For example, we could have more information about the traffic, electricity use, water usage and air quality, and our home devices could inform us about recent changes, so we can quickly adapt. For example, if there is a problem with the air quality in the city, our smart air purifiers could automatically start working, to prevent future respiratory issues. Or, the neighborhood that spends the least amount of water per month could be rewarded by the city, as the most eco-friendly and water conscious community. This would allow communities to contribute to green goals and get rewarded.
IoT devices gather large quantities of useful information through various types of sensors: temperature, pressure, motion, image, proximity, qatar quality and chemical sensors, etc. These sensors are connected to the cloud, where the data is stored and used to indicate the IoT device action. However, there were exemples in the past where big corporations, such as Google and Amazon, had privacy breaches of data collected from users of IoT devices. Alexa and Siri were examples of this problem,as there were breaches of private data that was gathered from these devices, such as private conversations, or shopping preferences. The question of privacy still remains, who has access to the cloud, and how is the information being processed? Is it possible to make IoT devices and clouds more privacy-oriented?
Software vulnerabilities and cyberattacks can be a problematic aspect of IoT. More importantly, the security issues are even more dangerous and magnified if they happen in the industry-context. For example, a security attack on the hospital IoT devices could endanger the health of numerous people. On a personal use level, the problems could be very serious too, as a malicious person, or an organization could violate your smart lock and prevent you from entering in your own house, or hack your smart stove and cause a fire. Even though these examples are drastic, they could happen, and that is why more work needs to be done to ensure the future safety of IoT devices.
Beyond Siri and Alexa, the number of IoT devices is increasing, and International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that there will be 41.6 billion IoT devices in 2025, capable of generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data. The data we generate will continue to grow, and will pose a tremendous challenge. The best question is not only how can we safely process the huge amount of data, but also, who has the authority to do so. In the meantime, people continue to benefit from the IoT technology, saving energy, money and time to do meaningful work.