The future outlook of IoT technologies and applications

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IoT technologies and applications- For over a decade we have witnessed a proliferation of internet-connected devices. Nowadays, the number of internet-connected devices is estimated to be around 25 billion. Most of these are mainstream consumer devices that enable human communications and facilitate human-machine interactions. There is also a growing number of devices that are deployed in industrial environments to enable the collection of digital data about operational performance such as efficiency and quality.

By analyzing this data, industrial enterprises derive insights on how to automate and optimize their business processes. In this direction, devices, and smart objects with actuation capabilities such as robots, drones, smart sensors, and automated guided vehicles can be used to reduce human errors, increase automation, and improve the quality and reduce the cost of industrial operations. Currently, industrial enterprises exploit only a small fraction of these data. However, this is gradually changing as the internet of things (IoT) is combined with other cutting-edge digital technologies such as cloud computing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI). Additionally, a prerequisite for IoT at scale is simplicity and the low cost of the technologies used.

Rise of the Industrial Internet of Things

The IoT computing paradigm is sector agnostic. As such IoT is already deployed in many different sectors of the economy such as supply chain management, transport, healthcare, and industry. According to recent market research, the lion’s share of IoT’s business potential lies in industrial applications, in sectors like manufacturing, energy, oil and gas, and smart buildings. This has given rise to the term Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is the main technology behind the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).

IoT’s disruptive potential will be primarily realized in business areas that can directly benefit from remote observations and related data analytics. The latter enables enterprises to achieve unprecedented levels of automation, along with ambitious business improvement targets. Large industries that integrate IIoT in their digital transformation agendas will benefit the most from IoT based on projects with a considerable return on investment. On the other hand, Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are provided with IoT-based innovation opportunities based on novel use cases such as the use of their assets as a service. In the medium term, IoT’s benefits will be diffused to the consumer space as well, as part of applications like smart homes and smart living. In the scope of these applications, consumers will be provided with instant information about leakages, defects in fridges and white appliances, goods’ delivery status, as well as the condition of their car, boat, and cottage.

IoT in Smart Cities and Facilities Management

Prominent IoT applications examples can be found in the areas of smart cities and smart buildings. Specifically:

In smart cities IoT enables automated and remote management of infrastructures and processes: For instance, it provides insight into the management of critical infrastructures like smart grid and smart water infrastructures. As another example, it delivers efficient and scalable urban security services based on information from video camera surveillance systems. Moreover, it facilitates the delivery of intelligent and sustainable transport services based on the management of information from bike rental stations, taxis, public transport, and intelligent transportation systems. In the scope of the above-listed use cases, data monitoring is performed from remote and on a 24×7 basis. Likewise, based on the use of machine learning and AI techniques, smart city services can predict and anticipate potential incidents (e.g., service disruptions, transport congestion) towards confronting them proactively. In these ways, IoT empowers sustainable cities, which sustain the pressures of rapid urbanization and changing demographics.

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