In the past year, the term internet of things has definitely evolved. There are many industries that are being heavily influenced and accelerated due to the IoT movement. From commercial manufacturing to the auto industry to home automation, consumers are now seeing IoT directly impact their lives. If you ask someone if they’ve heard the term, internet of things, you’ll likely get a yes. The future is now!
By definition, IoT is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology (typically Wi-Fi) to communicate and sense or interact (by use of sensors) with their internal states or the external environment.
In other words, everything is being connected to the internet wirelessly. That’s right, a myriad of THINGS are being connected to the internet. In factories, machines that are part of an assembly line are littered with sensors that monitor temperatures, moving parts and motions. When something breaks or goes wrong, all the statistics are noted. With this information, patterns emerge and the use of analytics becomes one of the pillars of IoT. Having this data will help forecast future breakdowns and allow proactive preventative maintenance to be conducted at the factory manager’s discretion.
IoT and the Home Front
Consumers are also seeing connected items, such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa, light bulbs, dimmable light switches, thermostats, security cameras, refrigerators with cameras inside, washers and dryers, garage door openers and now, even cars. “Why should all these things be connected to the internet” you may ask.
Well, it’s not so your machine can update its social media account. Internet connections are important so devices can communicate with each other and with users. We now have IoT interfaces that allow us to set rules for automating simple features within the home: Here are some examples.
- “Turn on outside lights at sunset, off at sunrise.” You no longer have to be the house on the block that accidentally leaves your lights on all day and night.
- If you’re on your way home and can’t remember if you need milk, take a look inside your smart refrigerator using the Samsung app on your phone.
- Your thermostat will know to adjust the temperature when you leave the house, because it is alerted by the GPS on your phone.
- Someone’s at your door? Don’t get up. Take a look at the app on your phone that connects to your smart doorbell that has a camera and motion sensor that alerts you about visitors or delivered packages.
Life is becoming easier, as we are becoming more informed with fewer things to worry us. Literally, things are taking care of themselves more and more.
The Auto Industry at the Forefront
The auto industry is one of the largest sectors that could benefit from IoT. The idea of a “connected” car is not very far-fetched, as we are at the dawn of self-driving cars already. After our homes and offices, we spend a majority of our time in our vehicles.
Imagine having a vehicle that has hundreds of sensors embedded in it and is connected to the internet, sending the vendor updates about such things as overheating, abnormal wear-and-tear, low fluids, etc. These important data points could save an owner time and money, and help avoid breakdowns and repairs. It could also lead to service offerings from the vendor.
Software upgrades for your car’s computer systems could also be performed remotely. These IoT capabilities will empower both owners and vendors, and hopefully bring down costs and increase efficiencies.
The autonomous, self-driving car is also becoming a popular concept, and the list of possible benefits is growing. Imagine never having to worry about traffic again. Or you could enjoy reading a book, watching a movie or answering emails while your car drives you to your destination. Arrow has already showcased the potential of smart cars and IoT with the Arrow SAM car.
In 2018, we’ll see IoT continue to gain traction and take root in our everyday activities. Manufacturing, home automation and smart/autonomous cars are some key areas to watch closely. Essentially, IoT is transforming the very world we live in. And things will never be the same.
By Timur Rassekh
System Engineer/Solution Architect
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in January 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Last modified: November 6, 2019