Magazine Article | February 25, 2013

The Current State Of The Internet Of Things

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By Alex Brisbourne, president and COO, KORE Telematics,

Learn how data gathered from remote objects can be turned into intelligence for improving operating efficiencies, safety, and security.

The discussion of the “Internet of Things” remains one of today’s hot topics. However, there are some glaring misconceptions regarding what the “real” Internet of Things is, and what it can accomplish. The term refers to uniquely identifiable objects (things) and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The definition is, for the most part, analogous to descriptions of M2M (machine-to-machine) communications and connected devices.

Recently, the concept of the Internet of Things has been brought back into the mainstream, with a number of well-known companies pushing its futuristic benefits. But where is the Internet of Things today, in the reality of our day-to-day lives? In a few industries, the Internet of Things is already making a major impact on our very own quality of life and productivity. Connecting and remotely controlling and monitoring devices via ubiquitous cellular and satellite networks combined with more cost-effective price points for device hardware is making the Internet of Things a very real solution in these companies.

M2M In The Supply Chain
The global supply chain is ever-growing, and for this reason, among many others, it has experienced a large uptick in connectivity. Where there used to be lapses in real-time information updates, more shipping companies are now using wireless connectivity to remotely monitor their mobile assets. This connectivity enables M2M-based Internet of Things functionality, such as the ability to report on the location and route of a truck or the humidity, temperature, and/or pressure of its cargo. The added intelligence provided by the Internet of Things plays a critical role in ensuring regulatory compliance and the safety of our global food and pharmaceutical supply chains.

What The “Smart City” Means To Local Governments
Many local governments and municipalities dream of being able to minimize traffic jams or manage water main breaks or snow removal issues from afar. A number of communities are already making the Internet of Things a reality in their towns by starting small. For instance, water quality and wastewater management are being improved with the use of thousands of tiny sensors that wirelessly report on everything from water levels to the type of bacteria in the water to blocked water mains.

Smart Grid: M2M’s Impact On Energy Delivery
The so-called smart grid, while still in its early stages at most utilities, is an example of the Internet of Things in action. A large percentage of smart meters are armed with wireless connectivity, transmitting energyuse data in real-time to a utility’s headquarters. This information enables utilities to better manage their infrastructure with more accurate demand response strategies that help limit blackouts. In addition, utilities can communicate this information to consumers, helping them drive down energy usage and costs. The wireless collection of energy data also eliminates thousands of truck rolls every year, as there is no longer a need for dispatching personnel to read meters.

mHealth Takes Over
mHealth is a term that was coined to describe the practice of medicine and public health, supported by mobile devices. The term is most commonly used in reference to using mobile devices for health services and information. However, we are seeing two different verticals arise from the mHealth space — information gathering applications and patient care monitoring. The real value of the Internet of Things comes in enabling doctors to remotely manage specific diseases or general patient wellness. Critical care monitoring will be driven by rugged, purpose-built devices with necessary privacy and security measures built in, and will be operated largely by healthcare providers and payers. Informational wellness monitoring, on the other hand, will almost certainly be dominated by the smartphone, especially for the curious consumer.

Although the Internet of Things remains the descriptor for futuristic or one-off applications that make us say, “Wow, can they really do that?”, connected devices are making a real impact across a growing number of industries. These applications, while not as sexy as a fridge that knows when it needs milk, are leading the first wave of the Internet of Things. It will be this wave that sets the stage for the future of the Internet of Thing, so don’t let it go unnoticed amongst all of the buzz around tomorrow’s applications.