Recently, experts have begun to predict that by 2020, we're going to have more than 20 billion connected devices in the world. Although some people consider IoT to be in the realm of science fiction, the truth is that it's quickly becoming an integral part of daily life. Although there's still a lot to be done with IoT, the environment is growing more complex by the day.
At the home, in your local office, or even in your car, you'll begin to find that a vast number of connected devices might be able to change the world as you know it, one step at a time. In fact, most people believe that the IoT ensures our world will never be the same again. Here, we'll look at just some of the ways IoT will affect our lives.
Productivity and Industry 4.0
If you've never heard of the term "Industry 4.0" before, it's a phrase that's being used to identify the next phase in making the manufacturing sector more digital, because of the expanding data coming from connected devices. The growing nature of business intelligence and analytical data has allowed us to explore productivity and efficiency in brand-new ways.
For instance, consider a smart factory, where a computer can communicate with numerous machines to make sure that everything is running smoothly. In an assembly line, all the devices could interact with each other and then communicate with human workers to improve the use of resources, and maximise efficiency.
Simpler Remote Working
If you're looking towards a future where more people can work from the comfort of their own homes, then you should be thinking about the benefits of IoT. The internet of things should play a significant role in allowing people to work remotely. Today, a lot of jobs do not require employees to physically go to the office, but a lot of businesses struggle to give remote working a chance.
However, with the development of IoT and wireless technology, it will be easier for businesses to oversee the tasks they assign to their workers in a more active and engaged way. If companies want to keep track of exactly how much work their employee is doing, all they need to do is check the data being logged by that staff member's computer, or phone. Since studies already indicate that employees working from home are happier and more productive than their at-work counterparts, it makes sense that we'd be focusing on the remote working world with the IoT.
Safer Streets and Greener Cities
Self-driving or autonomous cars are now a strong and exciting part of the IoT environment. Imagine a world full of electric cars that know exactly how to respond to certain circumstances. For instance, your car could tell you when you need to change your route to avoid a traffic jam, or it might be able to slow down a little when the weather starts to become more dangerous, so you can avoid unnecessary accidents. Numerous companies are now working on these self-driving cars, and manufacturers are already testing prototypes on the road.
Although it's likely to be some time before car brands can realistically deliver a vehicle that requires absolutely no human input, some cities are already becoming smarter with things like smart pedestrian crossings and smart parking. Not only will autonomous electric cars help us to reduce our impact on the world by limiting our reliance on fossil fuels, but the IoT is contributing to green cities in other ways too.
For instance, IoT can have a positive impact on energy consumption in the home. Already, we've begun to see smart devices that allow us to turn heating and lighting off within the home. You can set your alarm clock automatically according to traffic conditions and calendar updates, and even tell your coffee machine to start brewing from your smartphone.
Better Shopping Experiences
Even your average shopping experience might be improved thanks to the arrival of the IoT. Imagine a world where you can sit on the sofa at home and tell your smart speaker that you want to buy something online. For instance, the Amazon Echo or the Google Home can both allow you to order products online without you ever having to log onto your own computer.
Thanks to things like Amazon Fresh, which has given people the opportunity to buy fresh vegetables online, we could soon be living in a world where you can tell your home that you need some eggs for a recipe, and have them delivered to your door by drone in the next hour. Although there are some regulatory issues to figure out here, about how drones can be used and so on, there is a range of options available in the IoT world when you start to think about shopping and retail.
Better Doctor-Patient Relationships
Finally, the IoT is making it easier for people to monitor the state of their health. Thanks to the use of sensors in the latest wearable technology like smart clothes and watches, it's possible to manage long-term patients following an operation without having to constantly call and check up on them. In Italy, some groups are already giving patients and families kits that contain medical devices and tablets that can be used specifically for keeping track of medical conditions.
For instance, the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin is currently giving children with cardiac problems shirts that monitor their heart health. We've also begun to see smart beds in hospitals that allow doctors to better evaluate patient health in an instant.
Even the relationships between doctors and patients is going to become more dynamic in the future thanks to the IoT. Over time, people in the industry believe that IoT will be able to reduce the amount of money and effort people spend on actually having to visit their doctor's surgery. While it will probably be years before we can carry out surgeries remotely, this is one potential eventuality that the health sector is considering.