The Internet of Things (IoT) is slowly — almost without fanfare — filtering into our lives. Although not as trendy as Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT has a growing pervasiveness in the modern technology landscape.
People use the IoT for the little things — such as powering lightbulbs in their homes — to the big things, like controlling driverless cars. In cities, IoT powers everything from street lights to CCTV cameras and is deployed in manufacturing, for example, as a tool for monitoring machinery.
We often refer to them as “smart” gadgets, and anything that has an on/off switch/button that can automatically connect to the internet and store/share data is part of the IoT clan.
An excellent example of IoT at work is a security camera installed at home to detect motion, send alerts to the homeowner’s mobile phone, and provide a live feed for monitoring and probable action.
Another basic example is the smart thermostat that can sense the temperature in the house, send the information to the cloud or centralized data center where the data is processed based on the user’s preference, and then automatically adjust the temperature to suit the user’s preference.
With the emergence of 5G technology and AI, IoT has assumed a higher importance in terms of its capabilities and use cases. So here are a few things you may not know about IoT.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About IoT
1. IoT is One of Tech’s Largest Growing Sectors
In 2019, the tech sector saw five distinct and booming technology trends that created and enabled new experiences. These five trends were Sensing and Motion (IoT), Augmented Human, Postclassical Compute and Comms, Digital Ecosystems, and Advanced AI and Analytics, with IoT and Advanced AI topping the charts in the trend table.
Fast forward to 2023, and IoT is still ranked among the most market-friendly technologies, with the global consumer IoT market valued at $104 billion and projected to reach approximately $556 billion by 2030. By some estimates, the number of connected devices in the world will surpass 29 billion by 2030 as the need for energy efficiency, predictive maintenance, and accessibility keeps increasing. Several factors are responsible for fuelling the IoT market boom.
According to Melanie Nuce-Hilton, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Partnerships at GS1 US, Inc., “Our appetite for connectivity is one of the key factors driving the IoT evolution. We now live in a world where every conceivable element of our lives is intricately interlinked. IoT is what delivers a connected ecosystem where systems, devices, and applications seamlessly communicate, transforming everyday life and industry operations.”
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The emergence of cloud-based data platforms is the most telling force behind the boom. “The real engine propelling IoT expansion is cloud-based data platforms, which serve as colossal repositories, capable of collecting, processing, and disseminating colossal volumes of data generated by IoT devices”, Nuce-Hilton added.
Another factor driving the boom is the rate people buy and switch to smart homes. According to a Statista study, the global smart home market is projected to generate a revenue of about $115 billion in 2022 and will hit double that figure by 2028.
2. A Lack of Interoperability Hurts the Industry
Interoperability is the linchpin of IoT adoption. Without it, IoT devices become isolated islands of data, limiting their potential,” says Nuce-Hilton.
However, despite being the nucleus of IoT adoption, interoperability issues still pose a significant challenge in the IoT industry. These issues arise from the diverse nature of IoT devices, which come from different manufacturers and industries, each with varying communication protocols, data formats, and security measures.
“The absence of a unified standard stems from the diversity of devices, industries, and legacy systems, making consensus difficult. This is why having a Global Language of Business is so crucial.
Unlocking IoT’s full potential requires standardized identification and data-sharing processes for objects, assets, locations, and automatic data capture using standardized technologies like barcodes and EPC/RFID.
Using standards for data sharing creates a foundation of interoperable, trusted, and transparent data that brings us closer to achieving IoT’s proposed utopia of universal compatibility,” Nice-Hilton further explained.
To tackle the challenges related to IoT interoperability, various initiatives are underway.
For instance, organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) are actively engaged in developing IoT standards. Their primary goal is to establish a common set of rules and specifications that enable IoT systems and devices to communicate seamlessly, regardless of the platform or manufacturer.
This standardization promotes interoperability and prioritizes security, ensuring that devices from different manufacturers can collaborate securely within the ecosystem.
3. Not all IoT Devices Depend on External Power Supply
Some IoT devices do not rely on a continuous external power source. They are designed to operate using alternative power sources or energy-harvesting technologies.
Besides tapping power from the Sun, which some outfield IoT devices do, there are other IoT devices that harness kinetic energy from motion or vibrations through technologies like piezoelectric materials. Thermoelectric generators can generate power from temperature differences, while energy-scavenging devices capture small amounts of energy from their surroundings, such as electromagnetic fields near power lines.
There are also batteryless IoT devices that employ ultra-low-power components and efficient communication protocols, occasionally harvesting energy from the environment and storing it for use. Wind turbines, water flow, and hybrid energy sources, combining multiple methods, are additional options for powering IoT devices.
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These energy-harvesting technologies offer valuable solutions for IoT applications in remote, environmentally sensitive, or challenging-to-reach locations. They eliminate the need for constant battery replacement or power connections. The choice of energy source depends on factors like power requirements, location, and environmental conditions, ensuring IoT devices can operate effectively without a continuous power supply.
4. IoT is the Catalyst for the Green Economy Drive
The Green Economy mantra is founded on these key values: sustainability, environmental responsibility, and resource efficiency, and IoT technology acts as a catalyst for achieving them.
Areas like waste management, transportation, water usage, and industrial operations all use IoT to modify their operations for maximum efficiency. It helps the key players across sectors make eco-friendly decisions that lower carbon emissions, save water, and use less fossil fuels.
For instance, the IoT sensors in waste bins can monitor waste levels and help reduce fuel use by guiding trucks only to bins that need emptying, helping reduce the carbon monoxide released into the air.
In transportation, the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), which is heavily powered by the IoT, is worthy of note as it helps to facilitate sustainable and eco-friendly transportation solutions.
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Commenting on ITS and how it facilitates eco-friendly transportation, Marina Dedolko, Growth Manager at Senla, noted that “These systems are capable of aggregating data from various sources such as probes, satellite systems, traffic detectors, weather stations, emergency services, and computers for processing. ITS also features the capability for self-diagnosis of vehicle parts, allowing for proactive monitoring of their condition.
“In the event of an accident, it can pinpoint the incident location and promptly warn other drivers about the area, potentially reducing the likelihood of subsequent collisions and enhancing the efficiency of emergency response efforts,” she added.
In industrial operations and manufacturing, IoT sensors give manufacturing companies valuable insights into their production processes, which helps them identify and fix inefficiencies, reducing energy waste during production.
5. Arts and Entertainment is Being Transformed
IoT in art and entertainment merges technology and creativity to offer captivating and interactive experiences for audiences. For instance, in interactive art installations, sensors detect movement or touch, making the artwork respond by changing colors or sounds, following the audience’s interactions.
In live performances, wearable devices can influence stage lighting or sound effects, improving the show’s overall impact. Smart museums and galleries use IoT to offer visitors personalized experiences, with audio guides or apps responding to visitors’ locations and providing relevant information about the exhibits being viewed.
These applications show how the Internet of Things engages audiences in new and innovative ways and creates dynamic, personalized, and interactive experiences that blend technology with creative expression.
The Internet of Things has become essential for connectivity in our day-to-day lives. It guarantees the interconnectivity of our devices, gadgets, and appliances. As the technology continues to evolve, it is crucial to embrace its benefits while being mindful of security and privacy concerns.
The more we understand this interconnected network of devices, the better we can use it to improve the overall quality of our lives.