How does an IoT system actually work?The IoT system is a network of sensors and/or physical devices that basically are getting some sort of data (for example the temperature levels in our home). The sensors/devices usually are connected to a gateway which acts as a bridge between the devices and a central location. The central location is a cloud or a web server where the data is transferred – through cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other connectivity method. Then the data is fetched and analyzed by a software and in some cases the software could decide to perform some action (e.g. send a notification or other).
At this point all the steps are done without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction which is impressive. It’s one of the reasons the IoT became so popular and used for a variety of business needs and different kinds of optimizations.
The process continues with the representation of the data in a user interface (UI). The user interface basically allows the human-to-computer interaction (when any is needed) – the data is represented in a way that an individual could understand (chart, graphs, etc.) and will have the possibility to interact with the system.
In practice:A lot of IoT products use a mobile application as an interaction tool. The mobile application will allow the end user to see the processed data and to perform some action if needed through different functionalities build in the app.
It’s quite important how that connection with the user is made – the structure of the app, what are the software functionalities and the possibilities that the user has, what content should be available and in what form, etc. That is what the end user sees and feels when using the app, and often he/she will evaluate the product for the UX/UI itself, along with the other technical characteristics. A professional User Experience design (what is UX design) will be a great benefit to the user in order to have a good, understandable overview of the information in the app and to use the build-in-functionalities in a simple and practical way.
Of course, there will be other important and crucial steps related to the development of an IoT project as well. It really depends on the goal and the complexity of the projects, but some common implementation challenges may arise such as:
- High investment costs
- Technology limitations
- Data security and privacy issues
- Required infrastructure
- Integration with other systems
- Intelligent analytics and actions
- Cost of new devices, user adoption cost and other
- Selection of partners and software service providers
Governments and Smart CitiesToday, our cities continue getting bigger, commute times longer and the impact on our environment getting even worse. Embracing smarter, technology-enabled solutions a.k.a ‘smart cities’, will help humanity deal with problems such as population growth, migration, healthcare challenges and resource depletion.
The idea of smart cities is usually perceived as what the future will look like – buildings reaching high into the clouds or flying cars navigating almost virtual motorways.
In reality, the Internet of Things is fundamental for smart cities and creates opportunities to improve and transform the lives of its citizens and the environment, while closing the digital divide and allowing businesses to innovate via data analytics. In short, the ‘smart city technology’ will pave the way for a future where everything is affected: intelligent traffic signals, parking, smart meters for utilities, radio frequency identification sensors (RFID) in pavement or Wi-Fi kiosks, you name it.
- Smart Parking – with the increased number of vehicles and parking load the IoT solutions allow drivers to find a spot easy and stress free. The on-street parking management tools create real-time parking map with occupied and available spots. This is possible with the help of installed in-ground parking sensors, intelligent cameras, parking meters or GPS services from driver’s smartphones which collect the data.
- Intelligent Traffic – one of the challenges of the mass urbanization are the traffic jams, causing stress, loss of money and time, as well as extra carbon dioxide emissions. An intelligent traffic management system is a cost-effective way to regulate traffic flow more efficiently, using data from different types of sensors on the road and GPS data from driver’s smartphones. The wireless connectivity of existing city infrastructures could measure and predict road load and in addition direct and manage traffic accordingly.
- Security cameras – another innovation asset of the connected devices world are the smart cameras. The increasing city population leads to larger traffic volume, violations and accidents, criminal activity and terrorist attacks. IoT smart solutions can ensure safety of the traffic, more efficient urban mobility and security of the people, providing real-time analysis of traffic patterns and crowd movements. Network connected cameras can be used also for Building Information Management (BIM) and Business Intelligence (BI) in retail. Integrating different systems through IoT like video surveillance cameras, smoke detectors, door controllers will allow remote management and even smart devices to make independent decisions on their own.
- Environmental sustainability: recently, many cities have upgraded their infrastructure, using sensing technology and data analytics to better manage urban assets such as public transit, waste management, waste water systems and roads. In other words, overall usage is an entry point for smart cities – both residential and commercial buildings are more efficient, using less energy by the installation of smart meters, home solar power systems and electric vehicles, hardware and software technology that allow better grid management and power production through different sources and distributed energy production.
It’s an idea of collaboration between citizens, the public and private sectors for sustainable transformation and growth that engage governments, citizens, visitors and businesses in an intelligent, connected ecosystem.
Automotive industryIf we turn our attention to the automotive industry, the benefits from the connected devices for drivers, passengers and manufacturers are unspeakable. Smart cars revolutionize the traditional concept of an automobile, providing enormous amount of new opportunities for a creative mind. The main novelty of the connected car, equipped with Internet access, is that it can transfer driving and vehicle data to a cloud. But how exactly can we take advantage of this?
- Vehicle to vehicle connectivity (V2V) – V2V technology, which transmits speed and position data to other surrounding vehicles on the road and helps preventing accidents, is the first step to autonomous driving. V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) is the second variable to ensure safe autonomous travel, giving the opportunity for the vehicles to transmit information with the infrastructure components like traffic lights, lane markers, streetlights and parking meters. Scientists go even further in their thoughts for the future – developing a Brain to Vehicle (B2V) system enabling us to control the vehicle using brain signals.
- Smarter diagnostics – with the help of Internet of things, the driver gets the right maintenance information in advance and can prevent expensive repairs. Predictive maintenance technology uses IoT connectivity tools to monitor and collect data about the performance of various car parts (e.g. Battery of electric vehicles). Next, the information is transferred to a cloud in real time. With the help of machine learning algorithms, the risk of potential hardware or software malfunction is evaluated. The driver is notified for any necessary service or repair needed.
- Data acquisition – In addition to the car and machine data, IoT solutions also collect driver behavior information, which allows automotive manufacturers to provide users with tailor-made and optimized travel experience. This includes receiving custom driver assistance features, map and traffic updates, fixing bugs and problems.
- Real time fleet management – IoT smart connectivity devices utilize this process as well. Integrated cloud-based platforms and advanced software are the base of managing the great volume of fleet and asset data collected in real time. Moreover, with the help of IoT and technology, fleet operators will have in-depth analytics and performance statistics for vehicle positions and routes, mileage and fuel consumption, remote car diagnostics, etc.
HealthcareIn an industry that is responsible for people’s health, every innovation that can lead to real results is met with open arms. IoT is no exception as it’s already providing some outstanding solutions that were unthinkable until recent years:
- – Monitoring Patient Vital Signs – This way doctors could easily see how patients are no matter if they’re hospitalized or not.
- – Provides Adequate Assistance Promptly – in cases of worsened conditions (e.g. Alert the medical team if patient’s blood sugar has raised).
- – Ultraviolet Radiation – Measurement of UV sun rays to warn people not to be exposed in certain hours.
We’ve given our own contribution to the healthcare industry by developing the Telehealth system providing remote health services. It basically monitors patients’ vital signs, alerts medical staff in case of need, shortens the delivery time of health services, and reduces transportation costs.
RetailDue to the fact that retail businesses offer products to much broader audiences in a highly competitive market, it’s usually one the industry most dependent on technology in general. Consumers are looking for what differentiates brands from competitors, and IoT could help you provide a unique user experience and flawless delivery:
- NFC Payments – The payment process calculating the price based on the duration of the activity or the location, allows companies to more properly value their services or products. Such IoT solutions are widely used in places like gyms, theme parks, public transport, etc.
- Supply Chain Control – One of the most essential things in retail is that you need to satisfy the need of every client. Saying you don’t have a particular product will just make consumers purchase from the competition. Here Internet of things technology can make it much easier to monitor and manage your supply chain, and to ensure excellent storage conditions.
- Product Tracking Functionality – Can serve as a key differentiator for consumers when choosing between you and competitors
- Smart Product Management – These IoT systems are outstanding performers for brands that have a physical store. They can restock automatically and control the rotation of products on shelves. This way you can be sure your consumers’ needs and interests would always be met effortlessly.
To attract consumers, you have to constantly be on top of the wave and that includes using the latest technologies in the field to offer memorable consumer journeys worth sharing and recommending. In such case it’s important to look for IoT solutions that allow consumers to interact with them. Also, you have to think of a way to make web or mobile integration, so the user could easily share it with others and thus your brand to reach a broader audience.
Infoleven embraces the new smarter world where the physical environment could be integrated into a computer-based system. This gives us an opportunity to “communicate” with the surrounding, monitor different parameters and react based on them. Our team is dedicated to creating a world where technology helps businesses and people do more each day and achieve real lasting results!