Here is IoT in action: You switch off all electrical appliances (excepting the intruder and smoke alarms) when you go on a month-long vacation. As you are on your way back after the vacation, you switch on the appliances (probably starting with the fridge) in a way that everything will be ready by the time you reach home. During the vacation itself, you would be alerted promptly if any burglars break into your home or a fire happens so that you can call the authorities concerned. What happens here is that you are communicating with your devices over the Internet (which is possible from wherever you are if you are connected to the Net).
Anything that can switched on and off can be controlled remotely in this new world of Internet. What you need are sensors to sense relevant parameters, connectivity to communicate the sensed data to a control center and actuators to adjust operations based on received communications. The layers involved are:
You may not be sure why your coffee pot should talk to your toaster, but precision technology powering an industrial Internet of Things has the potential to reshape the planet. To help clarify, Dr. Timothy Chou has created Precision to introduce us to the basics of the industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
- Sensors that measure the conditions
- Gateways that collect and transport data between sensors, users and applications
- Networks that provide the connectivity to distribute the data as needed
- Storage of all data for monitoring, analysis and management
- Monitoring, Management and Analysis
- What we see is a network of things all connected together.
The sensors could be in your farm measuring the moisture level of the soil with the water flow being automatically shut off if the level is adequate. Or they could be in the destination setting of your car sending info to your household equipment like the fridge (to set them on) and microwave (t start cooking the food inside) as soon as you start for home.
That means hackers can get into all those things and cause undesirable events to occur. In turn, this means that as IoT proliferates in the market, the network security market would also be growing to meet emerging new challenges.
Let us now have a glimpse at IoT applications by looking at the smart city of the future.
The Smart City Supported by IoT
Some major applications:
- Environmental Monitoring: Air pollution, water quality, radiation and electromagnetic levels can all be monitored across the city and possible actions taken automatically to improve conditions or warn affected groups. Fires, radiation levels, approaching storms and much more can be spotted promptly and precautionary actions initiated in time.
- Infrastructure: Smart roads that can not only monitor the condition of the roads but also generate electricity from the movement of vehicles and even people, improve the operation of self-driving cars and adjust street lighting levels. Smart waste bins measure and report their levels (which themselves can be controlled using solar compactors) and waste collection trucks sense these and collect only full or nearly full bin contents. Smart devices can also monitor railway tracks and bridges to report any emergencies.
- Others: Smart grids connect energy consuming devices to the supply management systems helping the utility companies to balance loads and optimize energy usage. It will also enable consumers to remotely control their devices so that power bills are reduced. IoT systems can also sense water leakages and shut off supply, monitor traffic congestion and direct traffic to less congested roads, and help drivers find the best available parking spots instead of driving all over the place looking for parking spaces.
All of these applications create major benefits and create innumerable business opportunities. However, when everything is connected, hackers can make life intolerable by hacking into things and controlling them in undesirable ways. This is the major threat foreseen for Internet of Things and opens up the area of Security as another great business opportunity.
IoT in other Areas
IoT can not only create smart cities but also smarten up many other things. Businesses can benefit from lower cost and higher quality manufacturing, and automatically adjust production volumes depending on market feedback and procurement of supplies to these volumes. Healthcare can benefit from remote sensing of health conditions and emergencies, and even take over several nursing tasks such as helping patients get out of the bed.
The possibilities are innumerable. No wonder Internet of Things is considered a major growth area.