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The Internet of Things (IoT) “The What?”

28th February 2019

From progression towards 5G to developments in connectivity capabilities, the world we live and work in is an exciting place at the moment.  One area we are likely to see the biggest developments in is the IoT (Internet of Things) category. An area that most of us currently know little about.

Projections for the number of IoT connected devices are mind-blowing. It has been widely reported that there is likely to be 30 billion connected devices by 2020. This will be made up of growth from both consumer and business connections. Largely from the smart home and connected machinery categories.

What is IoT?

To give you a brief overview, the Internet of Things is the concept of taking anything, anything at all and connecting it to the internet. (For a specific purpose of course!) When something is connected to the internet, it means it can both send and receive information; take and give instructions if you like. Applying this capability to everyday processes is the start of creating a truly “smart world”.

IoT applied to daily life

Think of how you set your alarm to wake you up at a specific time in the morning. You wake up on a winter’s morning, switch the light on, spend 10 minutes in the bathroom washing your face and brushing your teeth. You then head down the stairs, it’s freezing, you crank the heating up and spend 20 minutes making a coffee, having your breakfast and watching the news. You head back up the stairs to get changed, now you are ready for work. It’s still dark outside, too dark to open your blinds, it’ll be dark before you get home too but you don’t want to leave your blinds closed all day -your neighbours will talk! You turn the heating back down and head out the door, dreading the cold when you get home while you wait for the house to heat back up. It’s raining, you turn on your heels to grab an umbrella, you didn’t have time to check the weather.

Now, imagine, when your alarm goes off in the morning, your landing and bathroom lights come on simultaneously. You get on with your morning routine as usual but this time when you head down for breakfast, the lights are on, the kitchen is already cosy, the heating came on 30 minutes ago. The kettle is just finishing boiling itself and the TV clicks itself on, the news is showing. You sit down to your breakfast and in between bites of toast say, “Alexa, what’s the weather forecast?”. She tells you it’s raining, and you’ll need an umbrella. You finish your breakfast and ask the TV to switch off. You head to get dressed then back down the stairs, umbrella in tow and leave the house. (At the moment there are no plans for a Wallace & Gromit style gadget that will dress you, for the foreseeable, you’ll have to take care of that yourself!) The blinds are closed but you know they will draw open in 20 minutes when the sun rises because that’s what you’ve scheduled. They will close again at sunset, 30 minutes before you are home, just as the heating clicks on to warm up the house for you walking in the door.

It may sound like a scene from a Sci-Fi film but this could be the next reality of mobile technology. We’ve already seen the start of this with the Amazon Echo and smart metre installations but prepare to see more developments of this kind.

Perhaps some of the most ambitious ideas being proposed are self-drive cars and remote surgery – a medical procedure without a surgeon physically in the room!

How will Mobile Phones play a part?

Mobile phones will play an important part in supporting IoT as a controller for other connected devices, a dashboard if you like. One area most of us are already familiar with for smartphone and IoT integration is home automation. Where we control areas such as our heating and lights through our phones, even monitoring CCTV and more recently camera doorbells; see who’s at your door no matter where you are through an app on your phone.

Analysts have even projected advances in farming through IoT technology. For example, sensors being deployed that detect weather conditions, enabling farmers to remotely monitor their land with information being sent to their mobile phone on soil conditions, temperature, humidity & more.

One thing is certain, for the foreseeable future, smartphones will continue to be used as a tool to access IoT solutions.

When will we see IoT progression?

IoT and 5G essentially sit hand in hand, the potential for expanding the range of IoT really relies on fast and stable wireless data transmission, something 5G promises to provide.

Rollout plans for 5G have started to be published, with major cities being connected this year and further rollout plans for 2020. Therefore, it is likely to be a few years yet before we see real progression. However, once a solid supporting infrastructure is in place, IoT growth is set to explode and it’s almost not too implausible to suggest that nearly every aspect of humanity could be impacted.

A technological transformation is upon us, what the future looks like in respect of that, we can only wait and see!



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