For the homeowner, IoT integration means everything from the proverbial smart fridge to reduced water and energy bills to increased safety and security. Residents will enjoy the comforts of a streamlined household and the peace of mind from knowing that their families and possessions are protected against everything from foodborne illness to nefarious intruders and everything in between.
IoT technologies can greatly streamline the flow of materials from their points of origin to their points of need; indeed, IoT as we know it today traces its roots back to this very application. As the technology develops, in addition merely tracking products, users will be able to constantly monitor their conditions and watch out for potential stressors, such as falls, vibrations, and extreme temperatures. This proves particularly useful for delicate goods such as perishables and drugs.
IoT has already made quiet inroads into industries such as manufacturing, mining, and agriculture. Such primary and secondary sector enterprises already make extensive use of sensors and actuators to monitor system performance and to decrease any hazards and threats to employees and products. However, more often than not, sensors only log data when something is amiss, e.g. an alarm will sound or an error will be logged for failure analysis; an exciting next step for these industries is the harnessing of all the data provided by the existing sensors with an eye towards increasing overall efficiency across the entire system. For example, factories can schedule the most energy-demanding processes for times of day when power costs are lowest, while farms can select for crops based on parameters such as projected market prices, smart weather forecasts, costs of resources such a fertilizer, water, and labor.
Preliminary IoT technologies have allowed healthcare professionals to check on patients at home using wireless communication technologies. IoT implementation would allow the patient to effortlessly generate a stream of data, creating a more complete patient profile for a physician to monitor. Ideally, the data would go as far as to sound a warning of the patient is trending towards any serious and/or sudden health events. Additionally, this technology can be applied to healthy individuals subject to unusual stressors, such as athletes, military personnel, and EMS, to ensure that they are performing optimally and not headed towards hazards such as a work-related injury or a fatigue-induced error.
As IoT expands in scope beyond individual users such as homeowners or groups of users such as a factory and its personnel, smart cities will develop. One obvious use will be in traffic control, where IoT-derived data will be used to efficiently reroute cars during rush hour, relieving congestion before it can develop into full-blown gridlock. Additionally, IoT can provide urbanites with useful information such as locations of restaurants, retailers, and Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as warn them of city-specific hazards such as noise pollution and street crime.
Ultimately, IoT will bring us a smarter world, one in which environmental issues ranging from climate change to forest fires to earthquakes can be predicted, analyzed, and resolved using giant sets of data generated from a global network of sensors. Additionally, it is exciting what this scope of data might deliver towards non-physical aspects of the world, such as socioeconomic divide, the fair distribution of shared resources such as water, and the resolution of violent conflict. Never has a technology as powerful as IoT been available for solving this scope of problem. It is certainly an exciting time for humanity.