The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interconnected computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with a unique identifier network connectivity that enables some physical components to collect and exchange data over the internet without human intervention.
Corporate organizations, individuals, government agencies and the military have adopted this technology in their daily operations to facilitate smooth working processes and a favorable approach of delivering appropriate data from the source to designated points for processing and management.
IoT has become an engine of growth in the public and private business sector as well as affording a smarter way in assisting companies create, manufacture and service products. IoT has brought smartness in every aspect of human activity. Everything connected to the internet (Smart device) provides some form of solution to aid some processes.
We now have smart cities, smart homes, smart organizations, smart cars, smart campuses, etc. for instance, smart organizations are using IoT technology to track business operations, employee attendance, mobile employees and to monitor car park, security systems, among many other things.
“The IoT is still very much in its infancy,” says George Siemens, the Executive Director of the University of Texas. Siemens predicts that IoT will make a large impact. “The big potential for IoT lies in making the physical digital,” he says, adding that not only items, but also people can be marked and tracked digitally.
Ghana as a nation is gradually moving toward the digital space of IoT application. The activities of government’s functionalities, organizations and individuals require the use of smart devices in order to achieve the required results, accurate and precise records.
Smart devices or (also known as connected devices) are designed in such a way in such a way to capture, store or transmit the captured data to an intended recipient. These devices use the collected data to interact with humans or other connected devices on daily basis or to complete specific tasks. Several organizations are now implementing IoT systems in their business operations. It is expected that IoT services will soar to tens of billions of devices in the near future.
The new era of device inter-connectivity has gone beyond laptops and smartphones; the smart device evolution has moved towards connected cars, smart homes, connected wearables, smart cities, smart metering, connected agricultural devices and connected healthcare. It has been estimated that by 2020 connected devices across all technologies will reach 20.6billion.
A connected car is a car that is equipped with wireless Internet access which allows the car to share internet access with other connected devices either inside or outside the vehicle. The implementation of smart cars uses a technology known as Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) radios, operating on 5.9GHz band with very low latency.
Audi was the first automaker to offer 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspots access and the first mass deployment of 4G LTE was by General Motors In summer of 2011.
In addition, brands such as Infiniti and Nissan manufactured dealer-installed Wi-Fi systems on some 2017 models. Jeep, Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Chrysler, BMW, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Ferrari, Buick, etc have a dealer-installed 4G Wi-Fi kit for the 2017 models and additional in-built smart devices such as TV, robotics, laptops and unlimited access to millions of radio stations.
According to Jeff Immelt, CEO, GE Electric, IoT is a “beautiful, desirable and investable” asset. The driving philosophy behind IoT is that, smart machines are more accurate and consistent than humans in communicating through data. And, this data can help companies pick inefficiencies and problems sooner.
The significance of this technology is to enable users communicate with other connected devices at home, offices and conferences whiles driving. Drivers could also control connected devices such as gates, doors, ovens, gas stoves at home and then printers, photo copiers at the office.
Smart home or home automation is the process of controlling home appliances automatically using various control system techniques. The electrical and electronic appliances in the home such as fans, lights, outdoor lights, fire alarms, kitchen timers, etc., can be controlled by connected devices. Wireless home automation using IoT is an innovative application developed to control home appliances remotely.
“IoT is transforming the everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that will enrich our lives. From refrigerators to parking spaces to houses, the IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold every day, which will likely make the IoT a multi-trillion-dollar industry in the near future.” — PricewaterhouseCoopers report, sensing the Future of the Internet of Things.
Wearables such as watches, belts, spectacles, buttons, pens, etc are new connected devices which have experienced an explosive demand in markets all over the world. Companies like Google and Samsung have invested heavily in initializing development of these devices Wearable devices are installed with sensors and software which collect data from the environment and send to the user.
These devices broadly cover fitness, health and entertainment requirements. The pre-requisite from internet of things technology for wearable applications is to be highly energy efficient or ultra-low power and small sized.
What do you think the future of IoT is? Be prepared to embrace the implementation of smart systems as the world becomes fully digitized and connected to things. Read more on IoT as I take you through an exciting part of IoT in the next article.
…to be continued next week
The author is an ICT expert and a member of the Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana. He can be reached on [email protected] and +233244305305