IoT technologies are finding an application in many different industries and practices. The technology is only possible because of increasing computing power and tiny sensors that generate data and send it to an AI model. The AI then finds solutions that improve efficiency and productivity.
The same approach is already redefining how businesses operate, leading to increased revenues and minimized expenses. It will see a huge expansion in the near future, as the entire world around us becomes smarter and interconnected. Let's take a look at the main IoT applications that change the world around us.
1. Smart Homes
IoT sensors can turn any home into a smart home overnight. They can help you improve convenience as well as home security. You can install small IoT sensors on every device and element in your home to gain more control over everything that's going on. For example, if you install an IoT sensor on your electricity meter, you will be able to track power consumption every day or hour. That will help you find ways to save electricity.
You can extend your capabilities further with a smart surveillance system. More advanced appliances already come with built-in Wi-Fi controls you can use by simply connecting them with your phone. The connectivity will surely become even better in the future, so IoT definitely has an application there.
Fitness bands and smartwatches are excellent examples of how modern technologies improve everyday life. Something as simple as a fitness band can monitor your heart, calorie intake, track your location, etc. All of that is possible only because the band uses small sensors that are connected to the internet.
Wearables can help you improve your quality of life in many different areas. Firstly, they help you get the daily exercise you need to stay healthy. Secondly, they can track your efforts over time and tell you exactly how much progress you've made. The same approach can help doctors monitor patients' health remotely.
3. Autonomous Vehicles
Over a dozen companies are spending billions of dollars on self-driving vehicle development. Google, Tesla, and Uber are working on their own versions of autonomous vehicles, and all solutions include IoT devices. The massive push towards vehicle automation aims to improve road safety by eliminating human errors.
Here's how everything works. The cars have multiple built-in sensors connected to a cloud-based system. The sensors generate data, which is then sent to the system that makes the decisions in real-time. Of course, for everything to work, the system needs a powerful ML system as well. When the two technologies work together, they can eliminate errors and improve road safety. The system is still a few years from a general application, but it will become a reality sooner than you think.
4. Fleet Management
Managing a fleet made from hundreds or thousands of vehicles is a complex task that puts the best managers to the test every day. However, installing sensors on vehicles can make things much more manageable. Instead of calling to check in with every vehicle, the manager will have clear data about routes, ETAs, and the general needs of every vehicle. Moreover, built-in alarms and notification systems will ensure that all issues are dealt with on time.
One of the applications of IoT in fleet management also includes monitoring routes and finding more efficient paths. Moreover, the data can help with practices such as regular performance analysis, fuel savings, and emission reduction.
Surprisingly, farming is one of the industries that will get the most benefits from using IoT technologies. Farmers generally have a problem when it comes to making accurate yield forecasts due to unpredictable weather and other elements. However, IoT can help increase their yields through accurate monitoring.
For example, farmers can use IoT sensors to control drip irrigation, identify malnourished plants that need extra care using drones, and distribute water to where it's needed most. Furthermore, IoT sensors can also monitor soil quality providing details on moisture, acidity, nutrients, temperature, and other information that affects yield quality.
6. Retail Shops
IoT retail shops are a dream that is becoming a reality. Amazon Go is a concept that allows shopping with no checkout processes. Instead of going to the register to pay for items, customers can simply grab what they need and walk out the door. All items are billed automatically as soon as they exit the store. The funds are taken from your Amazon Wallet, so there's no cash involved in the transaction.
Every product you remove from the shelves is added to your cart automatically. If you return it, it's removed from the cart and replaced with a new item. A store like that doesn't need cashiers to bill the products you want to purchase. The idea is still a concept, but it will surely become the norm in a few years.
7. Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT
Similar to IoT, IIoT uses the same approach to improve manufacturing processes. IIoT sensors are placed on all instruments, machines, and devices, and the data they generate is sent to an AI for easy management.
The potential of IIoT is massive, and it's already been adopted by the biggest manufacturers in the world. IIoT can help reduce costs, improve product development, and streamline production. It's especially helpful in industries such as mining, manufacturing, energy management, etc.
8. Water Supply
Water management is becoming a serious problem for many areas around the world. The recent drop in water reservoirs across the western US is threatening to put hundreds of millions of people in a difficult situation. However, the right setup can improve water management.
One way of battling high water consumption is to install sensors on every water meter. The water supply companies can then monitor their entire system and identify individuals that spend too much water. Once water supply companies gather enough data, they can understand consumer behavior, detect faults in water supply, and find better ways of meeting customers' needs.
9. Smart Grids
Power grids lose a lot of electricity during transportation, which leads to distribution issues and potential power outages. However, with the use of intelligent energy meters and IoT sensors, power companies can monitor production plants and distribution points to detect problems and make better decisions.
Just like water monitoring, power consumption monitoring can also help companies understand their consumers better. Knowing details about energy consumption habits can help create better grids and lower energy consumption.
The hotel industry can also benefit from using IoT sensors. For example, hotels can improve the quality of service by using electronic keys sent directly to mobile phones. That way, every guest will have a unique QR code that is used to automate various interactions.
Instead of communicating with staff, guests can use apps to order food, request personal hygiene supplies, and organize other activities on the go. Payments, checkouts, and all other processes can also be completed using an app, leaving hotel staff with more time for cleaning and maintenance.
As you can see, IoT has the power to change how we interact with businesses and each other. The application of this technology keeps growing every day, as companies find new ways of implementing sensors to improve their operations.
IoT technology is leading the way for Industry 4.0, which is still in its early stages. There's no doubt that IoT tech will keep evolving in the next few decades. The current estimations say that the IoT market will grow from $250 billion, where it is now, to $1.463 billion by 2027. We can't wait to see where this technology will lead in the next few years.