The Internet of Things is really just getting started. Years from now we will be connected in ways that are difficult to imagine today. IoT applications, especially when combined with artificial intelligence and automation, will improve decision making, efficiency, convenience, wellness, and energy conservation. The integration of these technologies will also enable creative thinking and innovative applications across a wide range of industries.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly transforming how we do business and live our daily lives. Sensor technologies and real-time data acquisition and analysis can track almost any aspect of what we do. When used appropriately, IoT data gives us the ability to streamline business processes, improve efficiency, better our health and safety, automate tasks, and empower us to take a deeper look at our relationships, systems, and environments.

Below are 10 of the best examples of how IoT impacts our daily lives, at work and at home.

Home Security

The Internet of Things is the key driver behind a completely smart and secure home. IoT connects a variety of sensors, alarms, cameras, lights, and microphones to provide 24/7/365 security—all of which can be controlled from a smart phone. For example, the Ring doorbell camera security system allows users to see, hear, and speak to visitors at their door via a computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

Activity Trackers

Smart home security cameras provide alerts and a peace of mind. Photo: Ring

These sensor devices are designed to be worn during the day to monitor and transmit key health indicators in real time, such as fatigue, appetite, physical movement, oxygen levels, blood pressure, fall detection, and compliance with taking medicine. At-home health monitoring reduces the number of emergency doctor or hospital visits and helps elderly or disabled people live more independent lives.

Digital Twins

In the manufacturing world, a digital twin is essentially an identical digital copy of a physical object. Using technologies including IoT, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, the digital twin can update itself as the physical object changes in response to its surrounding conditions. Engineers can use the digital twin, instead of the actual physical object, to make adjustments or test updates.

Self-Healing Machines

Relying on arrays of thousands of sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, manufacturing equipment can be designed to recognize variances in its own operation, and correct them, before they turn into problems that require downtime and repair. This saves companies time and money and frees up employees who would normally monitor equipment and undertake maintenance to work on higher-level tasks.

AR Glasses

Google Glass is essentially a small, lightweight computer that is worn like a pair of eyeglasses for hands-free work. The information is presented within the “lenses” of the glasses, which can access a variety of Internet applications, including Google Maps and Gmail. In industrial settings, workers often use them to pull up blueprints or product specifications. The latest edition of these smart glasses allows workers to stream clear “point of view” video from expert assistants in other locations using wi-fi.

Ingestible Sensors

Ingestible electronic devices, roughly the size of a pill and outfitted with a power supply, microprocessor, controller, and sensors, can be swallowed to monitor disease conditions and transmit data from within the gastrointestinal tract—for example, to detect bleeding or absorption of pharmaceuticals. Abilify MyCite was the first pill will a digital tracking system that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Smart Farming

Farming can be a very high-tech endeavor these days. An increasing number of farmers are using IoT-enabled tools to monitor weather, soil composition, soil moisture levels, crop health and growth, and livestock activity. The data can also be analyzed to determine the best time to harvest plants and create fertilizer profiles and schedules.  Drones can also be used to collect photos and atmospheric data.

Smart Contact Lenses

Considerable research is being done on developing smart contact lenses that can collect health information or treat specific eye conditions. Swiss company Sensimed has developed a noninvasive smart contact lens called Triggerfish that has a sensor embedded in a soft silicone contact lens that detects tiny fluctuations in an eye’s volume, which can be an indicator of glaucoma. The device transmits data wirelessly from the sensor to an adhesive antenna worn around the eye.

Industrial Security and Safety

The ingestible gas-sensing capsule was developed by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: RMIT University, Peter Clarke

Sensors and cameras can be used to monitor the perimeter of restricted areas and detect trespassers in non-authorized areas. Small leaks of hazardous chemicals or pressure build-ups can be identified and fixed before they become serious problems. Identifying and fixing leaks of fluids reduces corrosion and minimizes maintenance costs. IoT-enabled detection systems are also used to monitor chemical factories, nuclear facilities, and mining operations.

Motion Detection

Using sensors to detect motion or vibration in large-scale structures such as buildings, bridges, and dams can identify the small disturbances and patterns that could lead to catastrophic failures. Networks of detectors are also used in areas susceptible to landslides, avalanches, and earthquakes.

Internet of Things (IoT) FAQ

What exactly is Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects— “things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.

What is IoT Internet of Things and how does it work?

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects— “things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.