Some people suggest that IoT should stand for the “Intelligence of Things” rather than the “Internet of Things” to reflect the countless smart devices that are transforming our everyday lives as consumers.
Just take a look around you, from the technology-packed cars, airplanes, and trains that make our journeys faster and safer to the intelligent buildings that make our domestic and working lives more comfortable. Or the wearable devices that monitor our health and fitness, to the revolutionary advances in medicine that are enabling personalized treatments and improving patient outcomes.
Yet our experiences as consumers are just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface is a huge — and largely unexplored — world of opportunity for businesses to become truly intelligent enterprises. Leveraging intelligent technologies like machine learning, natural language recognition, and robotic process automation, companies can automate repetitive tasks and free up employees to do more meaningful work, deliver top-class customer experiences, and achieve a step change in productivity.
These same technologies are providing the bridge between IoT sensor data — which in the past was limited to operational use — and business processes to deliver these digital experiences we now expect as standard.
Coupled with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics, enormous volumes of IoT data can be analyzed in real time to improve decision making and deliver better business outcomes — whether that’s increasing manufacturing efficiency, reducing asset downtime, improving health and safety, or providing a personalized consumer product or service.
Businesses and public sector organizations around the world are already leveraging the IoT and other intelligent technologies to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Here’s a selection of my favorite examples.
Innovating with intelligence
Climate change is perhaps the biggest challenge facing humankind today, and halting its progress will make the world a better place for everyone. Increasing the use of renewable energy will play a key role, yet demonstrating its financial viability to investors remains an issue.
Kaiserwetter Energy Asset Management’s ARISTOTELES digital platform addresses this concern by combining the IoT and Big Data to aggregate technical, meteorological, and financial data to deliver smart data and predictive analytics insights. The platform enables the company to manage its renewable energy portfolios more effectively and provide its customers — which range from investment funds and banks to private equity investors and supranational institutions — with real-time intelligence on asset and portfolio performance and returns.
Inspecting and maintaining assets is particularly challenging as they’re often in the most inhospitable locations. At the aptly named Arctic Wind, the world’s northernmost wind farm in Havoysund, Norway, wind speeds can reach 100 miles per hour and temperatures 25˚ below zero — placing a huge strain on the structures and running the risk of catastrophic damage and even personal injury.
Fedem Technology has developed a clever, cutting-edge cloud solution for digital inspections of high value industrial assets. The tool has created a digital representation of Arctic Wind’s physical system, and real-time data from sensors continuously update this digital twin to reflect and represent the physical reality, replacing the need for physical inspections of the turbines.
It’s estimated that by 2050, 75% of the world’s populations will be living in cities — adding to the pressure to keep citizens housed, healthy, and safe. Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires is used to annual heavy rainfall and local floods over the centuries, but particularly severe flooding in recent years has damaged the infrastructure and taken many lives.
The city has addressed this problem with a combination of IoT, mobile, and data management solutions that are helping to keep its inhabitants safe. The city can now analyze real-time sensor data from over 700,000 assets — including 30,000 storm drains — to keep the streets clean and the drains clear. Combining this data with weather reports and other asset information enables the authorities to prepare more effectively, and during three days of torrential rainfall recently the area experienced no flooding at all.
People are also living longer. By 2050 there will be more than two billion people over the age of 60 — many with chronic illnesses — and prevention has become a major focus for the healthcare industry. Type ll diabetes, for example, is a lifestyle disease that is both preventable and reversible.
Developed by Roche Diagnostics in Switzerland, Accu-ChekView combines a blood glucose monitor, wearable fitness tracker, and app that enable a doctor to remotely monitor the patient’s vital signs and blood sugar level in relation to their physical activity in real time. Technology like this can potentially transform the patient-doctor relationship and enable more personalized and effective healthcare to improve and save lives.
Even the restroom is getting a digital make-over. Austria-based Hagleitner Hygiene International built its reputation by developing and producing disinfectants, dispensers, and cleaning agents that were used everywhere, from hotel bedding to airport restrooms — even hospital operating theaters.
Now the company is using IoT and analytics technologies to create digital restrooms, where an array of sensors can monitor how many people use the facilities, how often faucets are used, and whether sufficient stocks of soap, air freshener, and paper towels remain.
Transforming itself from a commodity product-based business model to a service-based model means that its customers and restroom visitors enjoy higher standards of hygiene, service, and employee satisfaction — and has enabled the company to stay ahead in a highly competitive washroom hygiene market while creating better outcomes.
The pace of innovation is relentless, and getting even quicker — so what does the future hold for these intelligent technologies? We asked 21 academics, entrepreneurs, engineers, and writers to give us their thoughts on where they see the IoT is headed and the impact they foresee for businesses and their customers. To share their intuitions, download your free copy of “Insights on the future of the Internet of Things.”
While their views are diverse, these experts agree on one thing: While the Internet of Things comes with certain responsibilities and challenges, it also offers unlimited opportunities for companies with the imagination and purpose to succeed.