The Internet of Things, Part I: Innovations for the Future

Filed in Internet of Things, Systems Engineering by on July 25, 2016 0 Comments

There is a lot of buzz right now about something called the Internet of Things (IoT). If you search online for “Internet of Things”, you will get over 161,000,000 results. Imagine how long it would take you to read all of that! But what does it mean?

What is the IoT, and why should we care?

The IoT is a collection of devices that receive, process and transmit data through the Internet.  If you work with a home or office computer, laptop, smart phone, tablet, smart TV, game console, or anything that is connected to the Internet, you are already part of this new technology. It could be argued that even people themselves are part of the IoT, but let’s limit the definition to things for this post.

What can the IoT do for me?

Hand typing on a digital tablet with mobile phone

The IoT touches a lot of things and people; just think of all of the smart phones and apps that are available. One statistic indicates that the number of smartphone users will grow from 1.5 billion in 2014 to around 2.5 billion in 2019, and another found that there were over 2 million apps in existence as of 2015.  With this kind of reach in phones alone, the IoT’s capabilities and benefits are essentially endless.

The IoT beyond smart phones

Companies are already using it to monitor product performance, like jet-engine manufacturers. With the help of the IoT, they know when engines need maintenance, reducing risk and increasing safety. In the world of sports, some competitive motorcycle companies equip their products with IoT devices so they can find ways to refine the bikes’ performance on the track during the actual race.

You may soon see the benefits of the IoT in your own home, too, in the form of smart appliances. Today, my refrigerator tells me when I need a new water filter; the refrigerator of tomorrow might order the new filter for me, or tell me what’s expired on its shelves with the use of a barcode scanner. Perhaps someday my fridge might even send a text message telling me to get milk or eggs or my favorite lemonade iced tea…or simply order the stuff itself. These are but a few examples; the IoT will surely enable innovations that we have yet to imagine.

Smooth sailing from here?

Not quite. With so much innovation come challenges for which we have yet to develop solutions. We’ll explore these obstacles, and how Systems Engineering will change the game, in the second part of this series. Stay tuned!

 

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