I.o.T Internet of things

I.o.T (Internet Of Things)

IoT (Internet of Things) can be a challenge for any business to introduce, but it doesn’t have to be. The main barriers are a lack of understanding of what IoT is and appreciation for the return on investment you can get by bringing IoT into your business. The first realisation that SMEs make in their efforts to exploit the IoT is that it’s a continuous process. Even though you can start with specific use cases and projects, it should be viewed as one step to an overall IoT strategy.

A few examples to take it from abstract to real: IoT is all about building new sources of revenue, disrupting your offerings to your customers by gathering real world data about your infrastructure, products and services that you use internally and that you sell out to your clients and customers. An industry we’re working on right now is in the Plant and Machinery industry. By placing a simple IoT device on a mobile generator or digger for example, you can instantly know it’s location, usage, temperature of the engine and local environment and it’s movement over time, the vibrations it’s being subjected to etc.. etc.. In this way you can look at live or historical data regarding that generator/digger and make all kinds of business decisions based on this new data. This also tells you indirectly about the state of the environment around the generator or digger and you can compare the usage data with other data such as employees reporting on their activities, whether the machine was stored correctly etc. Now you no longer need to be present to know about the historical or current state of your equipment.

Another example would be in building management. You can monitor doors opening and closing, temperature of rooms and so on.

But thermostat’s have been measuring temperature for years and GPS trackers have been on vehicles for years… what’s so special about IoT devices now??

The answer is… advances in technology and energy use.. it’s true that IoT devices are, for the most part, just sensors that measure the same things other sensors have been measuring for years, but thanks to the massive proliferation of smart phones and the rapid development of electronics that are smaller and more energy efficient, IoT now means sensors and devices that can be battery operated, are about the size of a cigarette box and last for 3-5 years on one set of batteries, so you just bolt them onto your machine, door, wall etc and that’s it… job done.. you instantly have new data available live and recorded so that it can be analysed every day/week/month/year.

The answer is also… cost… the cost of the sensor itself and the cost of the data network that provides that data back to the office or server. The cost has plummeted for both the sensor and the data connectivity.. there are no SIM cards needed, the use of LoRa networks allow extremely low cost network use country wide and soon worldwide (full coverage in Ireland and most of Europe right now).

Return on Investment… first thing that you will notice is that you need less human monitoring. You can now expand your business without hiring additional staff. A site manager or building manager can now monitor two sites/buildings instead of one. Not to mention the new features and services you can offer to your existing customer base. Does your business involve remote monitoring of equipment or meters, if so then the same applies. The IoT device can report back on the readings and instead of many meter readers you will just need a few employees on the road to check the IoT device and confirm accuracy instead or employees checking each meter.

At IrishApps, we’ve already built many IoT projects for multinationals and for SMEs. In 2013 we were heavily involved in research in the area of Semantic Web and IoT networks and in 2014-5 we built IoT based infrastructure and firmware and front end mobile software for companies such as Boston Scientific, Analog Devices and Advantech (B and B Electronics).

In the past 6 months in conjunction with IBM, we’ve build a general purpose IoT system that SMEs can use to quickly and cost-effectively get into the IoT world with almost no infrastructure costs.

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