The internet of things is often seen as a buzzword – a phrase promising much but delivering little. But despite the reputation of the words, there’s plenty of action here to back up the hype – businesses from a variety of industries have already started closely integrating sensors into their operations.
From the sensors being used to power smart factories, to the iBeacon technology rolling out in a number of retail stores, the number of sensors in a variety of industries is continuing to grow at an accelerating rate.
But the growth of the internet of things isn’t just about adopting the technology, but using it to provide insights – which lead to future innovation and smarter decisions. As the recent PwC CEO survey revealed, over 90% of CEOs in Australia believe technology will have a significant impact on the way they do business.
At the same time, however, recent PwC research shows Australia’s “Digital IQ” is two percentage points lower than the global average. If Australian business wants to get ahead, adopting tech such as smart sensors can be a good move -especially if those sensors are delivering data which can influence future decisions.
Here are the top 10 markets adopting the IOT as a major business play:
10. Financial Services
While not the most obvious choice for an industry to adopt connected devices, the financial services market is still taking advantage of the trend. Sensors installed in cars allow insurers to check driver behaviour, as well as track down stolen cars and collect ongoing data feeds. All of these devices can help keep costs down in both a direct and indirect fashion.
More hardware manufacturers are implementing sensors in products ranging from smartphones to dedicated “smart” devices like thermostats. New form factors such as smartwatches are built with sensors in mind, being able to track health statistics and other pieces of data. New devices like the Kickstarter-enabled “Sense” are dedicated to measuring sleep patterns – technology featuring sensors isn’t just growing more popular, but crowdfunding patterns suggest consumers want more of them.
New gaming consoles such as the Xbox One have featured sensor technology to track users’ movements and replicate that information on a screen, while new form factors like the Oculus Rift have experimented with sensor technology in new and exciting ways.
New tech such as iBeacon is already being rolled out in several stores across the United States, and with investments in manufacturing could be leading to new opportunities for sensors within retail stores. Meanwhile, stores are already adopting sensors to determine inventory levels and re-stock shelves automatically.
More hospitals have adopted sensors to track patients’ vital statistics on smartphones. Some of the more sophisticated technology involves putting this information in a cloud-like structure. More hospitals are using sensors to automatically repair broken equipment, and others are using sensors to monitor utilisation statistics – meaning doctors are able to measure whether certain machines like an MRI are going unused. If they are, they can be redirected to make better use of equipment already available.
Much of the hospitality industry still needs to catch up to the connected device trend, but already, many businesses are innovating. One Las Vegas hotel, the Aria, has already installed ZigBee-enabled gadgets which give its users control of in-room systems, which connect to sensors which adjust curtains and other electronics when guests move in and out of rooms.
Plenty of businesses have introduced sensors into factory settings – GE has spent billions on updating its “smart” factories, featuring up-to-date information on how products are stored and made. Information streamed to workers via tablets show exactly where things have gone wrong – and where they need fixing.
Car manufacturers are super-charging their vehicles with sensors. Peugeot Citroen and IBM have started a partnership to handle the amount of data coming from not only cars, but traffic as well, and analyse it to provide information vehicles on the road. These services are then leveraged into new products like mobile apps.
2. Power and Utilities
A huge number of smart meters have been rolled out across Australia, and elsewhere in the world, in order to provide both users and providers with real-time information on how electricity and other power sources are being used. This has provided much-needed insight into power usage habits, allowing users to target areas specifically where they can stand to cut down on usage.
1. Energy and Mining
Sensors have been used in a big way in the mining industry, allowing the monitoring of carbon dioxide levels, among other noxious gasses. Sensors have improved the safety levels of these mines several times over.