The Internet of Things has become one of the more popular terms recently, behind which are devices and systems that raise and improve the quality of life and the operation of companies and even entire cities. Thanks to the Internet of Things, we can live in so-called smart homes and cities, where devices help us find a free parking space, make purchases quickly or speed up the collection of garbage from already full containers. In business, Internet of Things offers solutions that optimize operations, costs and resources of enterprises.
In this article you will learn:
- What is the Internet of Things?
- What devices are available in the IoT model?
- Which industries can benefit from IoT solutions?
- Are IoT solutions secure?
- What are the pros and cons of Internet of Things?
- How does IoT support the owner/manager/employee of the company?
- What technologies are used for IoT?
- How much do IoT solutions cost?
- How to choose an IoT implementer, what criteria should be used when choosing a company from IoT?
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT for short) is a model of operation assuming that specific devices are able to not only collect and process, but also exchange data between themselves using the Internet and electrical installation. This communication allows you to create a kind of ecosystem in which devices synchronize their operation, making it easier for us to function both in private life and in professional.
What devices are available in the IoT model?
Devices operating in accordance with the principle of the Internet of Things can be divided into three categories:
The first is the objects that build so-called smart homes. These are all kinds of sensors and systems that allow you to monitor, e.g. temperature level, close, cover or open windows or start air conditioning. In this way they control the amount of energy consumed. These are solutions that care about the content of our wallets and ecology.
Other devices that fit into the idea of the Internet of Things are intelligent home appliances and electronics that we can program according to our needs. In this way, the fridge will inform us about what products have just finished, or even place an order in the store itself. The vacuum cleaner will clean the apartment at the time we choose, and thanks to the possibility of scanning the room, no nooks will escape it and at the same time it will bypass obstacles in the form of, for example, a moved pouf. It is a relief in everyday routine activities and helps in saving time.
It is also worth mentioning that devices from the sector of intelligent solutions for home are characterized by a common thing – the ability to control and communicate with them through mobile devices, e.g. Smartphones. It is a convenient solution that allows you to have constant control over what is happening in our smart home.
Smart cities are another field of activity for devices from the world of the Internet of Things. Change of traffic lights at intersections associated with monitoring and analyzing city traffic. Parking sensors inform you about the location and number of available parking spaces. City monitoring enabling immediate tracking of a traffic accident and directing appropriate emergency services to it. These are only some examples of IoT solutions used in the field of road traffic. And there are many, many more areas in which the Internet of Things supports the city. It is enough to replace the bins informing the export company about the need to empty them.
An important issue here is measuring devices that not only improve the city’s life, but above all make it safer. Examples include air measurement sensors informing residents about its status or sensors monitoring the status and level of water, warning against pollution or elevation.
Smart city is also support for the medical sector, which, among others allows doctors to have current information about the health of patients or monitor their condition at home thanks to devices from the telemedicine sector. Sensors for measuring blood pressure, heart rate or monitoring systems for taking medications by patients are devices that not only take care of health, but also allow doctors to react quickly in life-threatening situations.
Smart Factory – Smart Business
Internet of Things has also been applied in business. One example is VR (Virtual Reality) goggles, which allow employees (without experience or knowledge in a given topic) to assemble the device from the parts lying in front of them and at the same time monitor its actions by informing when they make a mistake. How? The various components have transmitters that send information regarding the correctness of the operations performed to the system and thus allow the next step to be taken.
IoT in business is also used for tracking devices. Among others, they are often used in high storage warehouses. The codes and chips used to mark individual packages send signals enabling the applications and devices connected to them not only to locate the object, but also to show the trolley operator the most optimal route to the destination.
Transport companies, thanks to IoT solutions, can not only determine the most optimal routes, but monitor vehicles as they travel. They also receive information about the technical condition of vehicles and possible faults on a regular basis. In this way they can react faster and prevent malfunctions.
Tracking is also a solution used in the exhibition industry. Thanks to dedicated applications and sensors connected to them, the organizers of such events are able to know the paths that visitors walk along. They know where they are staying and for how long. Therefore, they can better organize the exhibition space by placing advertising, food vending machines or important stands in key places. They are also able to analyze guests for specific features, dividing them into different types of recipient groups. In this way, they receive data that allows them to improve their operations and have products reach customers more reliably.
(Find out more about Industry 4.0)
Which industries can benefit from IoT solutions?
The Internet of Things is discovering applications in a growing number of industries. However, at present, it is most often used by representatives of these sectors:
- Large Scale Production
- Trade AndMarketing
Are IoT solutions secure?
Internet of Things is a topic that is developing incredibly fast. It determines the collection, processing and exchange of huge amounts of data, the size of which increases every year. This again drives the need to protect this information from falling into the wrong hands. Multitudes of security specialists ensure that the development of IoT is accompanied by the constant development of mechanisms and systems that ensure security. However, as with any new topic, there is a chance of oversights that may cause data leakage.
What are the pros and cons of Internet of Things?
Advantages of Internet of Things
IoT solutions can easily be classified as ecological, both in terms of energy consumed during work, as well as their support in protecting the environment. They use the latest technology, helping, among others measure noise, pollution levels, and support energy savings.
The Internet of Things streamlines and automates routine activities, allowing you to do more important and absorbing things. At the same time, it monitors the correct workflow of devices and their operations, informing you on an ongoing basis about errors, changes and defects.
IoT also facilitates the access to information, including those previously unavailable to you, thanks to a more accurate analysis of transmitted and collected data.
Cons of Internet of Things
Among the disadvantages of IoT is the previously mentioned issue of data protection. The danger of a leak, unauthorized access to sensitive data or control of IoT devices by unwanted persons are the threats faced by security specialists.
The second issue is the collection and processing of data against the wishes of their owners. There is a chance that our data may be used against our knowledge and even against us. This is even associated with prompting commercial information that we have not agreed to. This is usually the result of legal regulations that do not keep up with rapidly developing technologies and delays in issuing acts regarding their operation.
Poor hardware automation is another minus of IoT, leading to device malfunction. However, it can be easily ruled out by conducting appropriate implementation training for employees and frequent control of the equipment operation.
The last worrying issue related to the Internet of Things is the cost of data storage. Such large amounts require appropriate servers that will not only accommodate existing bases, but will be ready for regular expansion. This can result in considerable costs, because it involves not only the capacity of the servers, but also the time of data processing and their security.
How does IoT support the owner/manager/employee of the company?
Companies using Internet of Things solutions can count on a significant improvement in the workflow of the enterprise. The Internet of Things supports the change of a work management system to be more economical and efficient. Thanks to these improvements, managers and employees are able to:
- react to faults and errors in real time or even anticipate and prevent them (more efficient service)
- exclude some routine activities by automating them
- improve the quality of work performed
- increase productivity
- improve analysis and reporting by accessing information that previously could not be measured by humans
- broaden knowledge about specific processes and thus increase the efficiency of employee activities
What technologies are used for IoT?
The Internet of Things infrastructure draws on many different technologies and communication channels of devices and systems. Such a diverse and extensive network of technological connections allows for efficient transmission and collection of data, followed by their processing and further use. That is why in the group of technologies used by the Internet of Things we will find all kinds of transport networks belonging to the group of wireless solutions (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, WLAN, NFC or LTE).
IoT also uses the so-called perception layer technology using RFID devices. In simple words, they are a reader that emits radio waves, which are used to mark and then identify objects.
The Internet of Things also includes cloud computing and big data, i.e. processing and collecting data. Without these two elements, it would be hard to imagine introducing any IoT solutions into existence.
How much do IoT solutions cost?
Internet of Things is not cheap technology, but its market value is growing noticeably and steadily from year to year. As predicted by the IC Insights report, in the period from 2015 to 2020 the average increase in the value of the semiconductor market for IoT will be 14.9%, reaching $31 billion in 2020. IoT investments are classified as one of the most beneficial, especially in the field of vehicle monitoring, smart grids or production solutions. It is also worth mentioning that at the moment the largest profits are recorded for home appliances solutions.
However, IoT investments are not only profitable for investors. Despite the considerable implementation costs, entrepreneurs are increasingly willing to introduce Internet of Things solutions to their companies, because they support the optimization of costs, resources and people’s work in a way that has not been possible so far. This again translates not only into new savings, but also increased business profits.
How to choose an IoT implementer, what criteria should be used when choosing a company from IoT?
When choosing a company that implements Internet of Things solutions, we must first get to know its experience. IoT is such a new technology that very few companies can boast of many years of experience in its implementation. Therefore, when looking for the right companies, it’s worth checking:
- Was anything similar toyour needs realized by this company?
- Does the company offer support options in addition to IoT?
- Does the company provide comprehensively service, offering not only technology but also devices?
- Does the company have similar implementations in a givenindustry and thus understand its business goals?
It is also worth choosing several companies specializing in individual IoT sectors and creating a joint project with them. In this way, you can save on the costs of e.g. server support, on the other, you can be sure that the solutions and products used are prepared by specialists with relevant experience and knowledge.
The article was created in cooperation with Paweł Zawartka, Software Development Manager
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