The Internet of Things
Technology is always advancing at an ever increasing rate. One of the segments of that growth is called “The Internet of Things” or IoT. Wikipedia defines it as “the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing like devices within the existing internet infrastructure.”
Sounds great, but what does that really mean, and is there any impact on manufacturers?
The basic idea of IoT is to find a way to “embed” an electronic device into almost anything and then collect data from that device. The goal, of course, is to find ways to improve the health and wellbeing of people and a wide variety of products and services.
What kind of devices?
It could be most anything, but some examples are: heart monitor implant, biochip transponder on an animal, automobile with low tire pressure sensor to alert the driver, thermostats in your home connected to the power company, the list goes on and on. It has created terms like “Smart Cars”, “Smart TVs”, and “Smart Homes”.
IoT is not only for consumer products though. It has been heavily used by industry for the improvement of manufacturing, oil and gas production and more.
However, the growth is just beginning. Quoting Business Insider, “Estimates for Internet of Things or IoT market value are massive, since by definition the IoT will be a diffuse layer of devices, sensors, and computing power that overlays entire consumer, business-to-business, and government industries. The IoT will account for an increasingly huge number of connections: 1.9 billion devices today, and 9 billion by 2018. That year, it will be roughly equal to the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs combined.”
The potential is being recognized by many of the big players in the industry, both in the Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Companies like Amazon, AT&T, Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Oracle are working on cloud based and connected software or hardware that can be used for both business and consumer purposes.
Even the SaaS CRM provider Salesforce.com is getting in the game. “Salesforce.com says that the IoT presents a new opportunity for marketers to glean deeper insights into their prospects and customers. Connected devices allow chief marketing officers (CMOs) to learn how their products are being evaluated and used, what stage of the process the prospects are in and potentially what factors influence buying behavior. Salesforce.com says, ‘IoT is not just about connected machines; it’s about connected products and marketing, too.’”
These new innovations are fueling the hardware manufacturing industry here in the US. Companies like Bay Area Circuits are seeing the increase in demand for quick turn prototype and production circuit boards needed for many IoT products.
One day, we may see a “Minority Report” type of connectivity where any place you go, you are recognized, and information is tailored for you when you need it, how you need it. For now, IoT looks to provide new ways to collect important information and fuel US manufacturing in the process.
What about you? How do you see IoT being used?