Published on 12/12/2016 | Use Cases
The term “Internet of Things” often throws people, even in the technology industry, off balance. They begin struggling for definitions, explanations, market statistics and what not. There are those who throw multiple spanners in the works by citing security concerns (like they did with cloud). And then, those who generally do a lot of huffing and puffing.
Nothing wrong with that, actually. Any new or not-yet-mature technology segment goes through its own cycle of hype, hazards and hurrahs. So there’s no reason to treat IoT any different. Except perhaps that IoT is much bigger than a typical flavor-of-the-season type technology. (Without giving conflicting numbers but to keep things in some perspective, by 2020, billions of things/devices are to be connected and trillions of dollars in additional value will be generated.)
However, as the stats, standards and stumbling-blocks keep rolling in, the IoT pioneers and large ecosystem players continue to chip away at making it work. (Talking of chips, Intel has just bought Itseez Inc., an expert in computer vision algorithms and implementations for embedded and specialized hardware, an area of great interest to the chip giant for the automotive and video opportunities in IoT.)
I scoured the web for real-life business uses cases of IoT solutions from across different sectors and scenarios. Here are some interesting ones (including a few from India as well):
- Miami International Airport, one of the busiest US airports (over 21 million passengers in 2015) has deployed Internet-connected sensors and IoT apps to provide detailed information to passengers based on their location and needs (the MIA mobile app for Android and iOS relies on a network of 400 beacons that transmit location information throughout the airport). For passengers, the app provides personalized directions through to airport and helps them find restaurants, services and baggage carousels based on their location.
- ATI Specialty Materials, a world leader in the production of special alloys and steels for the aerospace, oil & gas, and medical industries, uses the ThingWorx IoT platform from PTC—which provides a real-time layer that connects with their manufacturing, quality, maintenance, and ERP systems and allows them to rapidly create role based decision support “dashboards” and interactive applications.
- Using AMC Health’s mobile patient monitoring solution, an active pregnant woman who needs to track her blood sugar can use a mobile device to communicate readings from her glucometer at any time and any place she chooses, and that information is stored securely in the cloud. Her care provider has 24/7 access to her information and can determine whether she, her baby or both are at risk. Using this information, the woman’s health care provider can provide more timely and appropriate care for the benefit of both mother and baby.
- Ward Aquafarms, a 1000-cage aquaculture farm in Massachusetts, USA, uses thermal radiometry sensor enabled cameras from Mobotix running on the Verizon IoT platform to collect and analyze data such as environmental and sub-tidal water temperature, chlorophyll values, etc. Combined with satellite imaging data and analyzed properly, it helps Ward in its commitment to efficient and sustainable seafood production.
- The cities of San Diego (California) and Jacksonville (Florida) are running trials that use LED streetlight technology to collect real-time data not only to manage lighting, but also to manage parking, locate and identify potholes and keep track of repairs to municipal streets.
- John Deere has fitted its tractors sold globally with sensors. This helps the company update the farmer if a moving part of the tractor or the harvester is likely to fail, around one month before the event. (The analytics behind the predictive framework is said to have been done by a Bengaluru-based analytics firm, TEG Analytics.)
- Technologies like IoT often find usage in the unlikeliest of places. Take the case of successfully impregnating cows, for instance. A system called Gyujo, which was developed by Fujitsu, uses a pedometer strapped to the leg of the cow to help figure out exactly when is the best time to inseminate a cow. For farmers, the importance of getting this right is huge. Artificial insemination success rates today are around 70% with a pregnancy rate of around 40% when the detection rate of when the cow is in heat is 55%. Pushing that detection rate up to 95% (the level of accuracy claimed by Gyujo) causes the pregnancy rate to shoot up to 67%. (A cow in estrus “walks around furiously” typically at night, which is what Gyujo helps determine.)
- Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL) has taken a few steps in the IoT realm with a smart metering project. To manage peak demand and manage grid stress situations better, the company is working on an Automated Demand Response (ADR) mechanism for commercial and industrial high-end consumers (typically, users of 10 KW and above). The IoT project was undertaken to demonstrate technological capability, understand customer behavior, provider for a case study for the regulator to work on differential tariffs and financial incentives, and also to understand the processes required for scaling up as and when the need arises. Having successfully connected a total of 11 MVA non-critical load of Commercial and Industrial HT-consumers (it achieved a Demand Response of 7.2 MVA load during a DR Event in the year 2014), TPDDL is now confident of having the process capability to extend the IoT initiative to a larger base of consumers.
- Sheela Foam, the manufacturer of Sleepwell brand of mattresses in India, has introduced the IoT technology to help identify and offer the right kind of mattress to its customers as per their body shape. Every human body is different and needs a mattress that matches the body posture and the pressure distribution while sleeping. The company has devised an IoT based solution that is fitted to the mattresses on display at Sleepwell’s various retail outlets. There are sensors attached to this special mattress, called Sleepwell Sensobed, which scan and capture the various body shape related parameters when a person lies down on the mattress. The data is then analyzed and used to suggest perfectly matched mattresses to individual customers.
- IBM is using a slew of technologies, including IoT-based solutions, to digitally transform the Rashtrapati Bhavan in India. The company has created the business architecture and operating procedures, implemented the technology platform and solutions, and is managing the entire technology deployment. (The scope includes smart, eco-friendly solutions such as energy management, water management, waste and horticultural management, and security systems.)
The above is but a tiny representation of the humongous IoT ecosystem that is getting built even as I write these words. In all probability, the “thing/everything” part would be subsumed one day and we might refer to the Internet of Things simply as, well, the Internet.
(Image courtesy: IoTDisruptions.com. This blog post first appeared on dynamicCIO.com, and was reposted on LinkedIn.)