Despite the constant barrage of headlines on the power of IoT, IoT innovation often seems like some far-off science fiction dream—a catchy buzzword, rather than a fact of life. But not only is IoT quite real, it’s already here, and becoming more pervasive than many realize. While IoT still has further potential to revitalize just about anything you can name, it’s already transforming every sphere of life, and will only continue to do so.
Here are some examples of areas being changed by IoT right now:
Fitbits and other fitness wearables and apps have already taken the world by storm. Not only have they made it easier than ever to monitor your own activities, vitals, and other metrics, they’ve birthed a whole new “gamified” approach to fitness. People enjoy setting new personal records or competing against friends and relatives for most steps walked in a week.
The impact of IoT on health goes further than just fitness, however. IoT is reshaping the field of medicine as well, creating new tools for both patients and doctors. Apps and wearables can help patients keep track of their treatments, and with the heavy investments tech giants are making in the emerging field of “mHealth,” it won’t be long before IoT can keep diabetics appraised of their blood sugar levels or even detect disorders such as autism before normal diagnosis ages.
Everyone’s on the lookout for self-driving cars, but as exciting as the prospect is, there are a host of other ways cars are already connected. We can now have cars that can call an ambulance and the police in case of an accident, diagnose their own mechanical issues, or automatically adjust their tire pressure. The Automatic car adapter app, which is already freely available, provides data on your driving habits and fuel efficiency, diagnoses engine problems, tracks location, and calls 911 if an accident occurs.
3. City Management
IoT can and already is acting on a city-wide level as well. In Amsterdam, sensors have been installed on street lights and traffic signals so that they can be turned off at night, only turning back on when motion sensors indicate that people are nearby. The amount of money these sensors can save for a city in energy bills is astronomical, clocking in somewhere around the billions of dollars.
Ridesharing and connected parking lots are also easing congestion and traffic in major cities. Ridesharing, of course, decreases the number of cars on the road while connecting drivers to people in need of transportation at any given moment. IoT-powered parking lots inform drivers how many spaces are available on each floor of the lot, or even use motion sensors above individual spots that light up if a spot is open so it can be seen from afar.
4. Oil, Gas, and Mining
With IoT, oil and mining operations now have the technology to closely monitor facilities to better safeguard their workers. These industries involve delicate and dangerous work, but IoT is helping to make things safer and more efficient. Sensors installed into equipment can warn about or help prevent potentially dangerous malfunctions. IoT devices can monitor the integrity and conditions of mine shafts to ensure the safety and health of miners. They can also provide critical environmental data about oil and gas extraction sites. It’s estimated that by 2020, there will be 5.4 million IoT devices at oil and gas extraction sites, but a number of those devices are already in place even now.
Here is the category most exciting to the average consumer: the many ways IoT is already capable of revolutionizing your own home. Mobile apps and devices such as the Amazon Echo can now be used to turn lighting on and off or adjust the temperature from anywhere, check whether or not doors or locked and the oven is turned off, or even see what’s in your fridge while you’re out grocery shopping. Nest can inform you if there’s smoke in your home, or if anyone has entered while you’re away.
So many particulars of everyday life are already transforming through IoT, even while newer technologies keep being made to take full advantage of IoT’s potential. Everywhere you look, the future is here.