“If you think that the Internet has changed your life, think again. The IoT is about to change it all over again!” — Brendan O’Brien, Chief Architect & Co-Founder, Aria Systems.
A quick explanation: The Internet of Things, or IOT, refers to things connected to the Internet, from laptops, tablets, and smartphones, to businesses, entire homes, even cities.
It enables things to collect and exchange data, with or without a human involved. The Internet of Things offers opportunities to medium and large businesses. If you have a business, no matter what it is, the IoT will probably impact it.
For many businesses, it might be either join or die. One example of the impact of the IoT on business is how it affects retail and the retail supply chain.
RFID tags use small radio frequency identification devices for identification and tracking purposes. On retail goods, they look similar to bar codes. You might even call them bar codes on steroids. By way of illustration, let’s use a white shirt.
As soon as the shirt is manufactured, it’s tagged with an RFID tag. The tag gives the date of manufacture, the colour, style, size of the shirt and that this shirt is the fifth one to come off the production line that day.
The shirt can now be followed in real time, and can always be found in the warehouse and during shipping.
In a retail setting:
- You know if the shirt is in the stock room or on the sales floor.
- You know where it is on the sales floor and how long it has been there.
- You can compare sales of white shirts to blue, so long as the blue shirts are also RFID tagged.
- There is no more counting during inventory. If you do take a physical inventory, it’s done in about 15% of the time it used to take.
- Other than a physical inventory, all this data can be accessed remotely.
The IoT uses Bluetooth near field communication beacons in a store to do a number of things.
- Display ads on customers’ smartphones, tailored to their unique interests – while they’re in or very near to your store.
- Accept payments for merchandise from a mobile wallet.
- Know when and how often a customer shops at your store.
- Know which displays attract customers and how long they linger at the displays.
- Employee name tags will show where they are and where they’ve been in the store. You’ll know which employees interact the most with customers and who hides in the stock room.
- Retail stores that employ these technologies can efficiently keep track of stock and connect with customers.
Delivery services or companies with a large fleet of trucks can use IoT to track vehicles. Management can tell if trucks in their fleet are staying on the route, making unnecessary stops, or wasting fuel by idling too long. The trucks can sound an alert when it’s time for servicing, too.
The IoT can monitor remote pipelines and track their thickness and the pressure in the line. By detecting a pinhole, the IoT monitor can prevent a major spill.
It can monitor machinery and equipment in a refinery more efficiently and more thoroughly than a human can and it can send the data remotely. Governments use this technology to monitor sewage systems.
The medical industry uses IoT to locate wandering Alzheimer patients and to remotely track heart rates, blood pressure, and other vital statistics.
The Internet of things is the wave of the future. Catch the wave, and you’ll probably be in for an exciting ride.