The world is in the middle of a technological revolution, becoming more digitized and interconnected every day. Many innovations have played a role in this movement, but few are as prevalent as the Internet of Things, or IoT.
Initially confined to the smart home movement, IoT has grown to permeate everything from business to infrastructure. As technology improves, more devices fall under the IoT umbrella, further expanding its reach. Gartner expects there to be 5.8 billion IoT endpoints by the end of 2020, and they’ll only grow from there.
So why is this field growing so rapidly? Here’s a closer look at how it’s improving life today and its potential for the future.
Enabling Industry 5.0
People often use the term “Industry 4.0” to refer to the integration of IoT and AI in industrial processes. IoT technologies were foundational to this movement, and they’re driving the next—Industry 5.0. In Industry 5.0, humans and intelligent machines collaborate, capitalizing on the strengths of both.
Human-machine cooperation is at the heart of Industry 5.0, so this movement relies on accessibility and communication. IoT technologies provide people with easier and more comprehensive access to machines. As a result, IoT gives robotic systems the accessibility they need to be useful collaborators.
When this kind of cooperation is possible, facilities that implement it will be far more efficient. Industry 5.0 combines the flexibility of human workers with the speed and accuracy of robotics. This movement could revolutionize industry, and it would be impossible without IoT connectivity.
Simplifying Daily Tasks
Some of IoT’s most impressive applications lie in the industrial world, but it started in consumer markets. The most apparent examples of IoT technologies are smart home devices. Though some of the novelty has worn off, their impact on daily life is immense.
Devices like Google Home can coordinate users’ schedules with minimal human interaction. They provide reminders, weather updates, and traffic alerts, and they also automatically adjust lights and thermostats. Each of these tasks is minuscule on an individual level, but added up they account for a lot of time.
By handling all these daily, repetitive tasks, smart home devices save users hours a day. They also help reduce energy usage and make technology more accessible to people with disabilities. As IoT technology develops, these advantages will continue to multiply.
Taking Personal Health to the Next Level
A more novel and equally promising application for IoT technology is in healthcare. Wearable devices like Fitbits can track factors like pulse, temperature, and blood oxygen levels. These gadgets can alert users if any of these show signs of a potential problem.
IoT medical devices can enable doctors to monitor patients remotely, making home care more accessible. This trend will reduce hospital stay times and drive down healthcare costs in turn. Some experts believe this technology will contribute to $300 billion in savings in the medical industry.
The use of IoT in medicine is comparatively new, but it’s seeing impressive growth. As COVID-19 fills hospitals and increases concerns about crowded waiting rooms, more healthcare systems have adopted these technologies. When the pandemic subsides, these services will continue to grow as people realize their benefits.
Expanding the Music Industry
On the surface, IoT has impacted music by making it more accessible. Smart speakers and wearables enable users to listen to their favorite artists in more situations than ever before. IoT’s influence over the music industry goes deeper than that, though.
IoT devices enable musicians to collaborate remotely, even recording at different locations simultaneously. On top of helping artists work despite physical distance, this increases the reach of industry leaders. Musicians can get help from leading audio engineers who can handle complex recording systems without traveling.
Other IoT technologies can translate audio signals into vibrations, helping deaf fans experience live music on a more tangible level.
One of the most exciting and recent developments in IoT is the emergence of smart cities. In a smart city, IoT technologies inhabit infrastructure like light posts and bus stops. This citywide interconnectivity will make even the most crowded areas more efficient.
With sensors and communication tools, traffic signals could adjust in real-time to meet changing patterns and avoid jams. Public transportation officials could change routes to account for traffic updates. Emergency responders could find out about crises sooner and pinpoint their locations faster.
These advantages are so promising that smart city spending could exceed $1 trillion by 2024. Traffic, city planning, crime prevention, accessibility and public health could all improve. In the future, every major metropolitan area could become a smart city, as these benefits keep emerging.
Where IoT Can Go From Here
The world has only scratched the surface of what IoT can do. One change that’s on the horizon but has yet to break through is driverless cars. MIT professors predict that autonomous vehicles will become a reality within a decade as IoT infrastructure necessary for navigation expands.
Eventually, the world will move on from the Internet of Things to the Internet of Everything (IoE). In IoE, devices, processes, data, and even people experience the benefits of interconnectivity. Connectivity will become the norm and not just an asset.
While IoT focuses on physical objects, IoE includes intangible processes and data in its scope of connectivity. This hyperconnected world will make advances like edge computing and AI accessible everywhere. While IoE is likely years away, the faster IoT grows, the closer it gets to reality.
IoT Is Impacting All Areas of Life
It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find an aspect of life that IoT hasn’t touched. It will continue to grow as new advantages keep emerging. These technologies have seen impressive adoption rates lately but likely haven’t come close to their full potential.
If technological advancement follows its historical rate, IoT is still in its infancy. Despite this relative youth, these technologies are already helping people and businesses alike across virtually all industries and scenarios. As IoT develops, it becomes clear that life in the future will be inseparable from it.