Internet of Things - Defined

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Fresh off AWS re:Invent, we’re still thinking about the major conference themes. Last week, our blog discussed one of the AWS re:Invent subjects we found most interesting as software developers: Serverless computing. This week, we’ll turn our attention to another leading conversation from the conference that has a more universal impact: IoT.

IoT is the one of the fastest growing areas of technology. In fact, Ericsson, predicts that in 2018 there will be more IoT gadgets than mobile devices. Indeed, IoT is already all around us. For example:

  • 60% of global manufacturers will use analytics recorded from connected devices to analyze processes and identify optimization possibilities, according to IDC and SAP.
  • Business Insider forecasts that by 2020, 75% of new cars will come with built-in IoT connectivity.
  • According to Reportbuyer, there were 968,000 smart clothing units sold in 2015, a number that will reach 24.75 billion in 2021.

For many companies, now is the time to start thinking about the long-term implications of this new landscape. That’s where we can help. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be devoting several blog posts to this pervasive technology, helping our clients:

  • Understand what IoT is
  • How IoT can be applied – business cases and scenarios
  • IoT ecosystem design and the AWS IoT platform – the edge of IoT technology
  • IoT and voice technology for businesses

Now let’s dive in…

Defining IoT

What IoT is (and isn’t) – can be hard to say
Retail Systems Research (RSR), a market intelligence company focused on technology within the retail industry, recently presented a list of potential IoT candidates to retailers and asked if they thought items listed were or were not part of the Internet of Things:

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  • 80% of retailers said that a barcode scanner was an example of IoT (it’s not)
  • But only 55% indicated that container RFID tags were IoT and even fewer (47%) recognized beacons as IoT (both are)

As this example illustrates, IoT is often not well understood. Even in industries where IoT is ubiquitous, like retail, the technology can still be misinterpreted. 

 
  Barcode scanners are not IoT, while BLE beacons are.

Barcode scanners are not IoT, while BLE beacons are.

 

So, what is IoT then?

IoT is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals, or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
- IoT Agenda

More simply put, IoT is anything that can be connected to the Internet, contains a unique identifier, and can communicate with anything else connected to the Internet - including people, computers, and other smart devices. We often think of it as a network of connected sensors. For example, IoT can be:

  • Personal voice devices, like Google Home and Amazon Echo
  • Video doorbells, NEST thermostats and other home automation products
  • A beacon-enabled kiosk that comes alive when it recognizes a person in front of it
  • Network connected John Deere tractors that plant seeds with precision
  • And on and on…including most Apps on your Smartphone that are automatically communicating with a Service in the Cloud

How IoT Can Impact Businesses
At its core, the highest-value potential of IoT solutions is all about capturing data — real-time data that can be leveraged to help businesses design better products, deliver better service, and open new streams of revenue. For example, companies are already leveraging the analytics and machine learning from IoT to engineer smarter, more useful products, market products more effectively, track inventory and equipment, mitigate risk, save money, and so on.

IoT implementation is still in its early stages, and now is the time for business to seriously consider the impact it will have on their company, their markets, and their industry as a whole.

If you need some help imagining the possibilities of IoT for your organization, let’s connect. Or read our case examples to see how we’ve worked with clients like Nortek, Skywriter, and the Dallas Cowboys to develop custom IoT solutions. Next week, we’ll take a deeper look into various IoT scenarios across a variety of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, home security, and hospitality. See you then!


 
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Shawn Davison

CEO at DVmobile, triathlete, and technological philosopher.

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