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Applications of IoT: Ensuring disruption without disruption

By 2020, Gartner predicts there will be 20.8 billion data-creating devices connected to the internet, compared to just over six billion in 2016.
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And applications of IoT (Internet of Things) are already at work in our day to day lives, making homes, offices and streets more connected.

So what are the most common applications of IoT now, what can we expect to see in five years’ time, and what challenges does the rapid proliferation of the IoT create for businesses?

Where are we now?

The smart home

The “smart home” is likely the most popular when it comes to applications of IoT at present because it is relatively affordable and readily available to consumers.

From the Nest Thermostat to the Amazon Echo, there are hundreds of smart products on the market. Smart homes not only improve consumers’ ease of living, but also increase security, as smart technology can connect the home-owner to their home at all times.

Providers of household items are increasingly entering into the technology space, as their products’ smart capabilities become mission critical.

Wide-reaching industry changes in appraising device performance are also being seen, as technology which is far more passive than traditional devices comes to dominate user experience.

Wearables

Watches no longer just tell the time – smartwatches such as the Apple Watch have turned our wrists into smartphone holsters, synching with mobile devices to enable messaging, phone calls and even GPS.

Wearable fitness trackers such as Fitbit and Jawbone have revolutionised the fitness world by providing people with instant data about their workouts. 

Wearables are also finding a market outside of leisure and fitness. Employers are now introducing them into the office and onsite workplaces, allowing employees to share information remotely. 

Where are we travelling to?

Smart cities

Other applications of IoT show the potential to transform entire cities. With the right connections and data, the IoT can work to ease traffic congestion, cut crime, and reduce pollution through embedding smart technology in a city’s infrastructure.

Smart city technology is already at work in Barcelona and Southampton, UK, with many other cities beginning to adopt innovative smart technology.

The biggest issue facing city administrators will be ensuring high levels of infrastructure functionality; smart devices suffer from overburdened WiFi networks as they compete in the limited radio frequency spectrum, and the IoT won’t slow down in creating countless numbers of new use cases to put pressure on existing systems. 

Connected cars

The automotive industry is already becoming a frontrunner in the IoT economy and is driving the revolution for applications of IoT. IoT is set to transform the way that people use cars, and the way that they buy them.

Most premium vehicles on the road today are already fully connected to several devices, working to deliver an optimal user experience.

People will be able to access their car from an app to adjust the temperature, check the mileage or even start the car, like a remote virtual dashboard. Akin to smart homes, connected cars can be controlled from a distance, improving both security and access to the vehicles. 

Cars are becoming data centres; each will soon be connected to a variety of interconnected servers providing data.

By turning this data into insights about key areas of the driving experience, car manufacturers can create compelling subscription-based services that car buyers are willing to pay for.

IoT – the connected challenge

IoT is transforming everyday physical objects like phones, watches and cars, and creating an ecosystem of information that will enrich user experience beyond our imagination.

Accurately testing such devices that fall outside of the conventional use case is an interesting new challenge for businesses.

Take, for example, the mobile nature of cars which will need to be able to function safely and practically when travelling to areas with less developed infrastructure – it will quite literally drive a massive change in how businesses should approach system performance testing.

There is now an unprecedented need for new levels of technology awareness within companies, to ensure optimised connectivity between the plethora of different devices.

IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold, and the onus is now on businesses to understand it is one of the most disruptive technologies of our time. 

Sven Hammar is chief strategy officer and founder at Apica

Image: Shutterstock

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