IntroductionWhile the internet was invented it was merely used to communicate between a small group of people in a specific location but utilizing the satellites and all the technology growth of that time it turned into a huge network that is being used by everyone around the globe. Not many people of that time in the world believed that search engines like Google and Yahoo will change the way users use the internet. Progressive growth in the last two decades, especially in microelectronics manufacturing that reduced the size of microprocessors and computer chips which turned smartphones and computers much sleeker than it used to be in the past. All these advancements along with the telecommunication technologies made high-speed internet easily available to everyone. The number of internet users increased with the increase in affordable and feature-loaded smart devices in the market. An increase in the massive amount of data collected through smartphones and smart devices opened up new avenues of growth in Artificial Intelligence(AI) and the Internet of Things(IoT). IoT is a concept of connecting all the smart devices which can autonomously communicate with each other based on the AI data or preset human commands.
There are numerous applications for IoT, a few of which are briefly discussed below.
HealthcarePatient's vitals are being recorded with different devices attached to their body which starts from a small fitness band in the wrist to complex fetal health monitoring wearables. Along with the long term patient history recorded in the Electronic medical record(EMR), data from wearables and other diagnostics in a combination helps doctors to provide a better prescription. In an IoT environment, serious abnormalities detected in vitals of any patient using a wearable is passed to GSM or GPRS connected mobile device which in turn notify the respective physician or hospital might save his or her life. This kind of setup will be more useful for elderly patients and patients who are having difficulties in communicating their problems. IoT applications will make a huge difference in countries like India as there is a huge shortage of nurses and doctors.
AgricultureAgriculture is another domain where IoT applications will make a huge difference in how crops are being managed. Once the crop cycle is planned and plantations are done, pesticides can be managed easily by implementing integrated pesticide management solutions. These days drones are used to spray pesticides and micronutrients to plants. All the drone data can be collected and compared proactively with the historic data using IoT technologies. Irrigations can be planned based on the autonomous weather data supplied to the central monitoring console along with other data include soil moisture, humidity, temperature, leaf area index, plant height, etc.
Manufacturing The manufacturing sector is a prime mover of all industrial and economic growth in the world. IoT is also being implemented in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. All the machine data is captured using different sensors which in turn passed to the central repository or cloud server using realtime data transfer through the internet. Smart IoT enabled machines to compare the tool setting data with the historical data which acts as a feedback mechanism to communicate to human operators in case of incorrect tool or work loading. Feedbacks provided by the smart machines help to minimize industrial accidents. Machine availability data can be captured using the IoT technology and those data can be compared against machine operators report to maintain the integrity of the manufacturing process. Advanced machinery communicates each other with all the specifications and sequential processes planned for the specific product without human interference which enables better productivity.
Home Automation Sophistication humans get these days are not limited to smartphones and computers which also include modern-day homes. A simple automatic remote operated garage doors to climate controlled air conditioner are common these days. IoT acts as a feather in one's cap which makes this bit more sophisticated. Think of an oven which cooks your food at various temperature based on the settings in your mobile phone application. You don't need a remote anymore to open your garage door as the unique identifier passed by your car is recognized by the door and it automatically opens and closes the door based on the position and ignition of your car. As a preparation, your geyser turns on and off automatically to make sure the water is warm and ready for you to take a bath. With another application of IoT, you can monitor your refrigerator and other appliances even when you are at work.
Smart CitiesIoT has a wider application in building energy-efficient smart cities. Street lights on the highways can automatically brighten and dim its light based on the passing traffic on the road. Furthermore, this feature is assisted with the satellite traffic data and sensor data to create foolproof and energy-efficient lighting in city roads. Rather just relying on the sensors for traffic signals, realtime satellite data used for better traffic management. Road accidents can be notified to nearest hospitals or ambulance centers by the vehicles through the internet-connected light poles in the smart city highways. Air quality monitoring tools are already being used in cities like Tokyo which capture Realtime pollution data and stores in the cloud database which makes the authorities to perform pollution control activities by analyzing the exact time in which the higher emissions recorded. Waste management is another area where IoT is very helpful as fleets managed by municipalities can be operated efficiently based on whether the waste containers reached its threshold limit or not.
Retail The retail industry also uses IoT for transforming the customer experience. Based on the customer preferences dresses are displayed from bright to dim colors. Auto payment solutions and IoT devices in the store enable users to buy whatever they want to buy and pay the bill automatically by just passing the POS counters so they don't have to wait in the long queues.
ConclusionAs there are plenty of useful applications for IoT, but still there needs to be a lot of human intervention to make sure the efficiency of any system. We are knowingly or unknowingly, with or without a will, giving all the personal data to one or other technology or telecommunication company. Along with the robust data generated and AI systems built based on the generated data, there are no set guidelines to collect user data in most of the countries. There were cases in the past that millions of user data have been leaked for political reasons by social media companies and internet giants like Facebook. One has to be very cautious and careful while using internet-based applications and IoT enabled appliances and make sure there are some privacy agreements between you and the service provider to ensure the security of your personal data.
Internet of things (IoT) is definitely going to bring revolutionary changes in our life. It has already started to affect in fact. Today we are going for medical test and we need not collect report in the evening as it comes to us by email in the afternoon itself and if required for documentation purposes we can print it. This is a small example but there are many much more versatile and convenient things which are going to happen soon. Another thing which I found recently is that earlier the senior citizens had to go to the EPF office for depositing their life certificate to get the EPF pension continuously without break. Today through the Aadhar number this has been automated and the senior has to go to a nearby bank to verify it through fingerprint method and everything is communicated to the EPF office automatically. These are the practical applications of the online facilities and once these are connected together to make a great network of IoT then things will be streamlined more and more. Technology is promising to us great happenings in the future and the role of Govt will be only to provide robust and good cybersecurity through special cyber cells and the good interconnection of various online legislative and administrative activities with each other. The future belongs to enhanced networking of all related services so that the human intervention is minimised. We hope to reach a stage where one activity will be recorded in the system and everywhere the update will reach. For example, if a person gets divorced the information from the court will even reach the Aadhar database for adding the update to it. It may seem a difficult task today but in an advanced stage of IoT, this is possible. Many other things will follow suit and we all hope many more such advantages in future.
We are smart now using smartphones, working in smart offices etc. Our homes are also becoming 'smart'. This is the benefit derived from the Internet of Things. It is intelligence and data combined, making things more convenient, easy and efficient using our appliances and devices. The appliances and devices are connected to the internet. They are networked by the internet to enable the special functionalities.
IoT is taking us to all those features and functionalities which we did not imagine a few years ago. It helps centralisation and decentralisation. The applications are becoming wider and wider. With Artificial Intelligence and data storage capacity expanding, anything will be possible now by the Internet of Things.