A decade ago, many of the households in the developing countries did not have a broadband internet connection. And yet, today we are talking about the internet that would connect ‘things’. But isn’t M2M (machine to machine) communication already a known and applied concept. IoT (Internet of Things) is much more than M2M communication. It’s about the exchange of information between machine & people, people & machine, people & objects and objects & people, and M2M communication is a subset of IoT.
IoT will enable different sensors and controllers connected to the LAN to communicate with each other, with human-machine interfaces and with computers. It’s good that machines can autonomously exchange ideas, but why the Hype! Exactly, why everyone is talking about IoT? To make things clear, let’s talk about use cases of IoT.
Imagine a patient with a mechanical instrument, such as a pacemaker, implanted in his body. This pacemaker, like any other mechanical implant, would have a defined life cycle, after which it would need to be replaced. An IoT-enabled implant would be able to exchange information such as battery life, heat signatures, etc. with its manufacturer. Analyzing this information, a manufacturer can keep a replacement implant ready, before the expiry date of the product. This information could save a patient’s life, which might have been in danger if the replacement for the implant was not available. The case is particularly eminent for the transplants which are not readily available.
Now let’s consider a global supply chain. Yes, ERP software has helped industries in managing inventories and stocks. But still, there is some amount of human intervention required. Machines in the global supply chain with IoT capabilities would seamlessly exchange information, further refining inventory and stock management. A machine at the factory would only produce only that particular product, which is out of stock, and another machine would share this information at the Point of Sale.
According to the American Information Technology firm Gartner, IoT vendors are believed to make an estimated profit of $309 billion. A report estimates that by 2020, there will be 26 billion devices with IoT capabilities. Cisco CEO, John Chambers, claims IoT will have five to 10 times the impact on society compared to the Internet. He is projecting a $19 trillion dollar market for IoT industry over the next decade.
Eventually, it might be possible in future that every device and every person would be able to exchange useful information with every other. But for now, a useful starting point is IoT, which comprises of machines that have embedded intelligence and the ability to communicate. The core function of IoT is to distribute critical information widely. So there is a risk exists that unauthorized people can alter the information. Security is, therefore, a major issue in implementing IoT network.
Despite many difficulties, IoT holds the potential to offer many benefits. For example, machine sensors can send condition data such as temperature, pressure, etc. to predict problems in advance of actual equipment failure. The process information could be used to identify areas where a revised manufacturing strategy could increase productivity and reduce energy costs. Also, it would be right to say that IOT is next step in the evolution of technology, but it’s not a revolution. With the availability comparatively cheap internet-enabled devices, this concept has become the talk of the Industry. The GE report predicts that annual productivity in the U.S. would be boost by the IoT by 1–1.5%. IoT holds a lot of promises, but we have to wait a little longer to see the results from its implementation.