The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the physical devices that are connected to the internet around the globe, which are simultaneously collecting and sharing the data. These items range from wearable fitness devices that can monitor your health by measuring your blood glucose, heart rate, number of steps you take, stress and oxygen level, to smart microwaves that cook your food for an appropriate time, to smart cars that sense any object in their path. These are few of the applications that show the ubiquity of IoT in our daily life. After collecting the various data, they suggest what is best suitable for us and slowly taking us to set out the next-generation technology experience.
The basic concept of the Internet of Things is to connect all the things in the world to the internet.
With the rapid growth of devices connecting to the internet, many experts are predicting that two-third of the new businesses will be dependent on IoT by the end of 2020. Keeping this in mind, IoT offers the potential for a “fourth industrial revolution”.
An unprecedented situation has arisen due to COVID-19, which has impacted our society as well as the economy. But many companies have turned this adversity into an opportunity as there are indications that the world will be more dependent on digital technologies from now on. Currently, the companies are embracing digital technology as they have to work remotely to serve their clients.
How does IoT Work?
The “Things” in the “Internet of Things” that are connected to the internet have been divided into three categories:
- First Things: a collection of information and then share it.
- Second Things: receive information, analyze, and then act on it.
- Things that do both.
The ecosystem of an IoT consists of smart devices that are web-enabled and use embedded systems such as sensors, processors, and communication hardware that collect the information and then share, analyze the data that they acquire, and then act on it. The data obtained by the sensors of an IoT from the environment is shared by connecting to an IoT gateway which sends the data to the cloud for analysis, or the data is analyzed locally. Many a time, these devices may connect to similar devices and share the information and then act on the data they acquire from one another. No human intervention is required for these devices to work, however people set them up to give instructions or access that data.
There is a wide range of real-world applications of the internet of things, from consumer and enterprise IoT to industrial and manufacturing IoT.
For consumer IoT, there are smart homes that are equipped with smart appliances such as smart thermostats. These smart homes are connected with lighting, heating, and electronic devices can be remotely controlled through smartphones.
Wearable devices that are equipped with software and sensors can collect and analyze the data of the users and then send information of the users to other technological devices with the aim in order to make the lives of users more comfortable and user-friendly.
In healthcare, IoT has the ability to closely monitor patients by using the analysis of the generated data. IoT systems have been used in hospitals to perform several tasks, i.e. inventory management for medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
Smart buildings are equipped with sensors that can detect how many occupants are there in a room, which further reduces energy costs. The temperature of the room can be adjusted automatically — for instance, when the room is full, the sensor turns the air conditioner ON. In contrast, the sensor turns the air conditioner OFF when the room is empty.
Similarly, in a smart city, the deployment of IoT sensors may assist smart meters and smart streetlights such that they can help in alleviating the traffic, conserving the energy, and improve sanitation to address the environmental crisis.
In the agriculture sector, smart farming systems based on IoT can help monitor temperature, light, the moisture of the soil, and humidity of the crop field by using connected sensors. It offers the potential for automation of the irrigation system.
Role of IoT in post-COVID-19 era
The IoT is performing a vital role in the fight against COVID-19. It has thrived over the years and the society as a whole is now ready to cherish the services of the advanced devices that are working with “IoT technology”. As this technology is already available in the market for some time now, hence the developers don’t have to design everything from scratch to make it useful for the COVID era. With the ever-increasing need for contactless use of technology and services, IoT is making sure to deliver on the promises and thrive at this crucial moment.
Many IoT Consulting companies are collaborating with NGOs and policymakers to develop innovative technical solutions that will be beneficial in the fight against Covid-19. These solutions may bring relief to society, making sure that businesses will thrust out of this pandemic.
To name a few, these technologies include:
Connected-Thermometers: The most fundamental symptom of COVID is fever. In a post COVID era, you might be watching the scanners everywhere to check temperature whenever you are entering any hospitals, banks, stores, etc. The IoT technology feeds the data of every scanner into a national database through which a real-time map can be generated to see where the spike of the fever might be so that the government can declare that region as a hotspot. This can be one of the valuable pieces of information processed in current scenario which can help the citizens maintain precaution.
Wearable: Many smart wearable electronic items in the market are enabled with sensors. These sensors play a very crucial role in the healthcare system as they can monitor the patient’s heart rate, blood oxygen, temperature, glucose level and send the signal to the doctors if the patient is in the critical condition. Timely monitoring of these symptoms can save a patient’s life.
The smart wrist band can also help track the person’s location. If someone is traveling from one place to another, these wrist bands can track their location and send the signal to the authorities, ensuring the person is following the home quarantine norms or not.
Accounting: In the COVID-19 crisis, businesses have been greatly affected in a way they perform their payments and accounting, particularly when the companies are pushing for a transition to digital collaboration and remote work. IoT implementation in accounting improves the distribution of data as it allows accountants to receive the financial data digitally. This would allow faster evaluation of the problem and analysis of risk. Thus the businesses can respond faster.
Robots: While at the hospital, robots are helping the doctors in caring for the patients. Doctors operate several surgeries via robots with more precision. In the Covid-19 era, robots are often used to deliver medication, food, and liquid to the patients. This reduces human interaction with the COVID affected patient and requires less staff. Less human interaction with the patient ultimately leads to a few cases and will help in slowing the transmission rate.
Drones: Drones are being used to spray the sanitizers or disinfectants in the public places and vehicles that are traveling to hotspot regions. They are also being used in transporting medical and essential supplies, lessening the risk of human contact. Drones are also helping in tracking the places where social distancing norms are not being followed in public.
IoT and embedded systems have already contributed significantly to the fight against Covid-19. As IoT’s footprint is growing exponentially and anticipated to hit 20.4 billion users before the end of this year, we may foresee many further permutations to be carried out while the pandemic lingers.
Also read about: Factors To Consider In IoT Product Design