The smart inter-connectivity of all technological devices is advancing rapidly with the improvement of internet access and speeds. This ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT brings with it some incredible benefits which will assist our day-to-day living and working environments, although there are some drawbacks to consider. Here are some examples of how IoT will affect our lives in the very near future.
1. Smart homes
What was once a futuristic ideal brought to life in sci-fi films, suddenly became a reality for the ultra-wealthy and is now becoming a viable option for the average individual; the smart home. Any device that uses electricity can be connected to a central home network operated remotely on a tablet or smartphone. The lighting, temperature, home security as well music and entertainment systems can all be controlled using one device and, if you’re away, checking in on your home is made possible through CCTV footage. These items can also learn your behavior and adapt elements such as temperature and music to suit the individual.
But this is extending even further now with the introduction of more home appliances on the market which can connect to WiFi. Your coffee maker can communicate with your alarm clock to ensure the coffee is ready for you when you get out of bed. Your pets can be fed at specific times throughout the day and the television programmed so children are only allowed to watch during a certain time. If there’s a fire, your smoke detector will immediately notify you and can even unlock your home to allow emergency services in.
2. Connected cars
The connected or ‘smart’ car is another feature that will become commonplace with vehicle-to-tablet connection already a possibility. Cars will eventually allow for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, offering immense value to the driver and passengers. A chip will ensure emergency services are alerted in the case of an accident while cars will be able to enhance their own operation, maintenance and the comfort of passengers. We are ultimately moving towards the driver-less car with connections between cars and traffic systems factoring out the human element altogether.
3. Smart cities
The efficient management of resources, provision of services and overall city maintenance will be automated with the implementation of sensors and web applications. Rubbish bins will alert municipal services when they need to be emptied; distribution of resources such as water and electricity will be controlled using accurate data to prevent waste and urban security systems will alert the necessary policing body when laws are being infringed.
4. Smart farms
Food security is an increasing concern with the rapidly growing global population. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world will need to produce 70% more food in 2050 than it did in 2006 in order to feed everyone. Technological advancements in the agricultural sector are already looking to address this. Farmers are now using sensors in fields to obtain detailed maps of the area’s topography and resources as well as variables such as soil acidity and temperature while predicting upcoming weather patterns.
As with smart cities and homes, smart farms mean the farmer can remotely monitor all equipment, crops and livestock while gathering statistical information needed for more efficient farm management. Self-driving tractors free up farm workers to focus on other tasks, essentially doubling the manpower. The use of drones in farming is also becoming commonplace as they provide farmers will real-time views of the land as well as useful data.
5. Smart healthcare
The benefits to human – and even animal – health are enormous with the implementation of IoT. By wearing connected devices, doctors are able to monitor their patients and emergency services can be alerted when an accident occurs. For individuals with chronic ailments such as epilepsy, heart conditions or any form of disability, this is a potentially life-saving revolution. The devices can also monitor an individual’s health and daily activity with the collected data then used for a personalized analysis allowing for healthcare which is tailored to the individual as a preventative measure, as well as treatment.
For the elderly, IoT in healthcare will become a game-changer with reminders about when to take medication as well as vital healthcare monitoring. Family and friends will also be able to assist the elderly from afar through the use of connected devices.
There are massive benefits associated with the IoT movement such as improved living and working conditions, vast energy saving options, better health and safer transport. However, there are some points of concern such as breach of privacy, over-reliance on technology and the loss of jobs through increased mechanization. These are all factors humanity will need to take into consideration and adapt to as it seems IoT is not only here to stay, but is advancing rapidly.
This useful guide is brought to you by ECN.
ECN is a leading telecommunications partner and data services provider in South Africa. ECN offers a broad set of cost effective voice, data and hosted services to meet our customers ever growing technological needs. If you have been following our articles and have an understanding now on the IoT, you will realize that internet access and the availability of internet data for your devices to communicate with each other is key to making it all work.