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IoT in the Real World

The Internet of Things, or IoT, at its simplest, is the connection of all things to a network or the Internet, generating massive volumes of all types of data in real time. IoT is in cars, home appliances, wearables, store shelves, buildings, factory equipment, shipping containers, etc. For example, a light bulb that can be switched on using a smartphone app is an IoT device, as is a motion sensor or a smart thermostat in your office. An IoT device could be as fun as a child's toy or as serious as an autonomous truck, or as complex as a jet engine that’s filled with thousands of sensors collecting and transmitting data.

There are already more connected things than people in the world, according to analyst Gartner. In 2017, there were around 8.4 billion IoT devices in use, up 31% from 2016. This number is estimated to reach 20.4 billion by 2020. Out of the 8.4 billion devices, more than half are consumer products like smart TVs and smart speakers. The most-used enterprise IoT devices will be smart electric meters and commercial security cameras, says Gartner. Analyst IDC puts worldwide spending on IoT at $772.5 billion in 2018, and predicts that total spending will hit $1 trillion in 2020 and $1.1 trillion in 2021.

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The Benefits of IoT for Businesses

The key benefit of IoT for enterprises is that they will have access to more data about their own products and their own internal systems, and a greater ability to implement changes as a result. Manufacturers, for example, are adding sensors to the components of their products so that they can transmit data back to the manufacturer on how they are performing. This can help companies pinpoint when a component is likely to fail, and change it before it causes damage.

IoT also allows manufacturers to have visibility into how, when and where customers are interacting with their products. This is a huge benefit for marketers as they now have an always-on focus group. Think of the types of insights you can gain in seeing what features a customer is using most frequently (or not at all), how the product is performing, how usage patterns and performance are changing over time and what the implications are to future product design.

Healthcare IoT, also referred to as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), is set to transform how we keep people safe and healthy. The IoMT can not only help monitor patients and inform and notify caregivers, but also provide healthcare providers with actual data to identify issues before they become critical or allow for earlier invention. Smart beds are now being implemented in several hospitals to detect a patient’s movements and adjust the height accordingly so that there is no need of nurses or any human intervention. There are also home medication dispensers that track if medication is taken on time or not with the help of the data stored in the cloud. Today, there are 3.7 million medical devices in use that are connected to and monitor various parts of the body to inform healthcare decisions.

IoT is working to make cities smarter, too, by actively changing the infrastructure of cities completely by reducing traffic congestion, enhancing public transportation, creating more efficient and cost-effective municipal services and keeping people engaged and safe. 2018 and beyond will see more connections with more data being produced to help improve the quality of our personal lives and the effectiveness of our professional ones.

Sources: ZDNet, Forbes, NewGenApps