The Internet of Things is a network of physical objects, vehicles, or other items that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity. This enables these objects to collect and exchange data via the internet. The term “Internet” refers to the global IP-based communication infrastructure; while “Things”, as defined by the IEEE 802.15 Working Group on Wireless Personal Area Networks, refer to any object equipped with an electronic device capable of communicating over wireless networks. These devices can be anything from smartphones to refrigerators. In this article, we will discuss 18 exciting IoT example applications which you should know about.
1) Smart Home
A home automation system allows users to control their homes remotely using smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc. It also provides security for your house. You can turn off lights when you leave home, lock doors, set thermostat temperature, open garage door, start/stop water supply in the kitchen sink, switch ON/OFF appliances like microwave ovens, air conditioners, fans, etc., all through mobile apps.
2) Health Care
Health care systems have been revolutionized due to the advent of wearable technology. Wearable health monitoring technologies allow patients to monitor themselves at home without having to go to the hospital. They provide real-time information regarding a patient’s vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, oxygen saturation levels, ECG, respiration rates, sleep patterns, activity level, etc. All these parameters help doctors diagnose diseases early and take timely action.
3) Transportation & Logistics
Transportation and logistics involve transporting goods from one place to another using truck, trains, planes, ships, etc. There are many challenges involved with transportation and logistics. One challenge is ensuring safe delivery of cargo while maintaining high levels of efficiency.
Another challenge is keeping an eye on shipments at different stages of transport. For example, if the shipment gets delayed due to weather conditions, you may want to know when exactly it will arrive. You might even want to find out whether there was some kind of accident along the way. Finally, you would like to keep tabs on your fleet’s performance. All of these tasks can be performed much more efficiently if we have real-time visibility into our operations.
The agriculture sector uses many different types of equipment including tractors, harvesters, sprayer tanks, irrigation pumps, tillers, seed drills, fertilizer applicator machines, combine harvester, balers, grain dryers, silos, storage bins, feed mills, livestock feeding stations, crop protection machinery, farm implements, etc. Each piece of agricultural equipment needs its own remote controller.
But now it’s no longer necessary to connect every machine manually. With the help of the Internet of Things, farmers can easily manage their entire operation remotely. For instance, they can check the status of various pieces of equipment, get reports on production statistics, receive notifications whenever something goes wrong, adjust settings, schedule maintenance work, access historical records, view maps, track inventory, order supplies, pay bills, etc.
5) Energy Management
Energy management involves managing energy consumption across multiple buildings. Buildings consume huge amounts of electricity during peak hours. This results in higher costs. The smart grid helps utilities reduce power usage by providing incentives to customers that conserve energy. Utilities are also able to predict demand based on past data. If needed, they can increase or decrease generation capacity accordingly. In addition, consumers can save money by reducing monthly utility bill payments.
The manufacturing industry requires constant supervision and tracking of processes. Machines need to be monitored continuously so that problems do not occur. Smart manufacturing systems collect all relevant data from sensors attached to machines and transmit this data over networks for analysis. Manufacturers can then make informed decisions about how best to operate their facilities. These include scheduling maintenance activities, adjusting operating speeds, controlling product quality, optimizing resource utilization, improving safety, increasing productivity, minimizing downtime, etc.
7) Water supply
The water supply system consists of pipes, valves, meters, water treatment plants, reservoirs, dams, wells, aqueducts, etc. It provides clean drinking water to homes and businesses. However, these components require regular monitoring and maintenance. They must be inspected regularly to ensure proper functioning. Also, leaks should be detected immediately as they cause serious damage to infrastructure. A smart water network collects information from devices such as pressure gauges, flow rate monitors, leak detectors, temperature probes, etc., which is transmitted through a wireless mesh network. Based on this data, operators can detect any problem before it causes major damages.
8) Supply chain and Retail management
Retailers sell products at stores. Stores have shelves stocked with goods. Goods move along conveyor belts until they reach checkout counters where cashiers ring up sales. Inventory levels determine whether there will be enough stock available when an item sells out. When items run low, retailers send alerts to store managers who decide what action to take next. Managers may contact suppliers directly if they want more stock. Or they could place orders online. Supply chains consist of many different companies involved in the production, distribution, storage, delivery, sale, purchase, recycling, disposal, etc. of various types of materials.
Companies monitor shipments using GPS-enabled trucks, ships, planes, trains, cars, drones, satellites, etc. They receive real-time updates regarding location, speed, cargo weight, weather conditions, traffic jams, accidents, road closures, etc. This helps them plan routes efficiently and avoid delays caused due to bad weather, strikes, natural disasters, etc. The Internet of Things has revolutionized retailing. With the help of IoT technology, retailers can track inventory movements across multiple locations. They can even manage customer preferences and order history remotely.
For example, customers can access their shopping cart while sitting at home via mobile apps. If they find that something’s missing or damaged, they can report it right away. In addition, retailers can also provide personalized recommendations based on past purchases. Smartphones are used by shoppers to scan barcodes, check prices, compare deals, add items to carts, pay bills, book flights, hotels, rental cars, buy gift cards, etc. All this happens without leaving the comfort of one’s own home.
Wearable technologies include watches, fitness bands, activity trackers, glasses, hearing aids, medical implants, prosthetics, etc. These gadgets measure vital signs like heart rate, blood oxygenation level, body temperature, respiration rates, skin conductivity, brain waves, muscle tension, stress levels, sleep patterns, etc. They collect data about physical activities, diet, health status, mood swings, social interactions, etc. Some wearables connect wirelessly to smartphones so users can view notifications, make calls, listen to music, play games, read books, watch videos, etc.
Others communicate with other wearable devices over Bluetooth Low Energy. BLE allows two devices to exchange small amounts of data quickly and reliably. It uses less power than Wi-Fi and works better indoors.
A smartwatch might display incoming messages, emails, calendar appointments, reminders, missed call alerts, text message alerts, etc. Fitness band monitors your steps taken per day, calories burned, distance traveled, floors climbed, stairs ascended/descended, active minutes, resting heart rate, etc. Activity tracker tracks daily movement, exercise sessions, sleeping habits, food intake, water consumption, etc. A medical implant is a device implanted into human tissue for monitoring physiological parameters such as heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, glucose levels, etc. Prosthetic limb connects to an amputee’s residual limbs through sensors and actuators. Sensors detect signals from muscles, joints, tendons, bones, nerves, etc. The actuator provides feedback to the user in terms of touch, vibration, heat, cold, pain, etc.
Automobile manufacturers have been using embedded systems for two decades. Today, these systems control everything from engine functions to air conditioning, navigation, entertainment, safety features, etc. An automobile contains many different types of electronic components including microcontrollers, digital signal processors, field-programmable gate arrays, analog circuits, memory chips, displays, antennas, speakers, motors, lights, gauges, etc.
The most common type of automotive electronics system is called “onboard diagnostics. OBD II was introduced in 1996. This standard defines how vehicles should be tested after being manufactured. It includes tests that monitor emissions, fuel economy, coolant temperatures, oil life, battery voltage, transmission fluid levels, brake pads, wheel alignment, tire pressures, etc.
11) Industrial Internet
Industrial internet of things refers to connecting machines or industrial equipment via wireless networks. In this scenario, each machine has its own IP address and communicates directly with one another without any intermediate servers. For example, a manufacturing plant may contain hundreds of thousands of connected machines. Each machine could send sensor readings to a central server where they are analyzed by experts who provide real-time information on production processes. Such applications would require high bandwidth connectivity between all nodes.
Wireless technologies like ZigBee, WiFi, LoRaWAN, 5G, etc., can be used for communication among various networked objects. These technologies allow low-cost, long-range communications at very slow speeds. They also consume much lower energy compared to wired solutions. However, there are some limitations associated with them. First, it requires line of sight connectivity which limits their usage in indoor environments. Second, they do not support mobility due to a lack of infrastructure. Third, they cannot handle large amounts of data because of limited processing power. Fourth, they need frequent maintenance and calibration.
12) Elderly Care Monitoring
Elderly care monitoring involves tracking elderly people’s health conditions over time. A typical application might involve collecting vital signs, activity level, medication intake, fall detection, etc. There are two main approaches: 1) wearable devices worn around the body; 2) implantable medical devices inserted under the skin. Wearables include smartwatches, fitness bands, heart monitors, pedometers, sleep trackers, etc.
13) RFID Smart Gun Technology
RFID technology allows identification tags to communicate wirelessly with readers. Tags have no batteries so they must rely on an external source of power such as electromagnetic waves emitted by reader units. Some examples of RFID-enabled products include passports, credit cards, access badges, employee ID badges, retail store loyalty programs, toll road payment stations, parking meters, vending machines, shipping containers, etc.
14) Air Quality Sensors
Air quality sensors measure air pollution using different techniques including optical spectroscopy, ionization chambers, photoionization detectors, electrochemical cells, chemiluminescence, fluorescence, laser photometry, nephelometric turbidimetry, mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, etc.
15) Driverless Cars
Driverless cars refer to vehicles that drive themselves through traffic without human intervention. The first driverless car was developed in 1994 but commercial deployment did not begin until 2010 when Google began testing autonomous vehicles in California. Since then several companies have been developing self-driving vehicle systems. Examples of these companies include Tesla Motors, Waymo, Zoox, Nuro, Cruise Automation.
16) Smart Parking Systems
Smart parking refers to a system where automated valet service is provided to drivers. It uses cameras or other sensing equipment to detect available spaces and automatically park your car into one of those spots. This eliminates the hassle of searching for open parking spaces while you wait for someone else to finish loading/unloading items from your trunk.
17) Traffic Management System
Traffic management systems collect information about traffic flow at intersections and provide real-time updates to motorists via digital displays. They can also be used to control signals lights and stoplights. TMSs may be manual or automatic. Manual TMSs require constant attention from operators who monitor all aspects of intersection operations. Automatic TMSs operate based on preprogrammed rules. These systems typically employ video analytics software to identify potential problems before they occur. For example, if there’s heavy congestion during rush hour, the system will adjust signal timing accordingly.
18) Wireless Power Transfer
Wireless power transfer involves transferring energy between two coils placed close together. WPT has many applications ranging from powering small electronic gadgets like cell phones to charging electric vehicles. In addition, it could enable wireless data transmission over long distances. There are three types of WPT: inductive coupling, capacitive coupling, and radiative coupling. Inductive coupling requires both coils to be connected to alternating current. Capacitive coupling only works well with direct currents. Radiative coupling does not need any physical connection between the transmitter and receiver. However, this type of WPT needs line-of-sight communication which limits its application.
IoT examples are everywhere around us. We see them every day. But we don’t realize how much impact IoT would make our lives. I hope my list helps you understand what IoT really means.