The IFB News Pipe

Blog: The internet of things…the internet of what?!

12 March 2014

David Cameron recently announced that the Government is planning to double investment with an additional £45m on developing ‘internet of things’ technology.

It is predicted that there will be 30 billion devices connecting to the internet of things by 2020.  This is an incredible number; but what exactly is the internet of things, how will it affect me and more importantly how can it benefit a business environment?

IFB have been running a series of ‘Making IT Simpler’ breakfasts where we have discussed the internet of things and what it means for our customers.

So…what is it?

The internet of things basically cuts out the middle man (i.e. the human element) and allows devices to talk to one another.  Or Gartner’s definition ‘The network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or external environment’.

The analogy we use to explain this often scares people…on one or two occasions there have been gasps or even screams in the audience!

We have our smart scales.  When you weigh yourself in the morning, it tells you either; ‘well done you have lost a few pounds’ or ‘I told you you shouldn’t have had that kebab on the way home from the pub last night’.

smart scales

When you go for breakfast, the scales have already informed the fridge of the scenario and advise on a suitable breakfast. (This is usually where the gasps come in!).

Samsung_smart_fridge

Your fridge also speaks to your smart watch and knows when you have been out for a run and suggests a protein rich dinner to have post workout.  It can also inform your watch when you are low on milk and advise where the closest shop is to purchase it.

smart watch

Whist you are out for your run, your smart watch tells your smart thermostat to turn the heating down to a suitable temperature when you return.

google-buying-nest-for-32-billion

I think you get the picture now of how all these devices talking to one another can be of a great benefit (or hindrance, whichever way you want to look at it!).  But, more importantly how can the internet of things boost productivity, make transport more efficient and reduce energy needs the way David Cameron has described?

Day to day operations such smart thermostats and lighting will learn habits and adjust accordingly, which can greatly improve energy efficiencies in the workplace.

Wearable technologies such as Google Glass can allow workers to easily access manuals and record procedures, improving the quality of the job and time taken to complete.  This can be applied to servicing equipment on an oil rig, data centre or boiler.

Vehicles and machinery can be fitted with devices that transmit information about their condition. When new parts or maintenance is required and the replacement parts can be ordered automatically.  This will reduce the amount of downtime taken up repairing and maintaining equipment.  Rolls Royce are already using this on their aircraft engines.

There are major benefits to be had in healthcare; from wearable technology tracking patients progress, greater efficiencies in patient records, prescriptions and appointments.

I have named a few examples here to give you an idea of the scale in which the internet of things can greatly benefit businesses.  It is something that businesses should be thinking about now, so don’t get left behind!

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