One of the fastest-growing segments of technology today is the Internet of Things (IoT). Changes and developments in this field are happening at a rate that might be likened to the Industrial Revolution. The Internet of Things (IoT) is touching the lives of virtually every person around the globe. Research firm Gartner Inc. listed 10 strategic technology trends for 2020 as reported in IoT Business News in October 2019. Also in October 2019, the IT technology website Analytics Insight listed seven essential trends to watch for in 2020. Among these are human technological augmentation, autonomous devices, and advances in artificial intelligence.
Work is proceeding in dozens of areas. Much of this work is currently being done behind the scenes and in laboratories, but many advancements will affect everyday life today. Below are four critical developments that are likely to create IoT news in 2020.
1. Smart cities
Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., is currently developing plans for building a “smart city” along a section of Toronto’s Lake Ontario waterfront. When completed, this part of the city will be “the most innovative district in the entire world,” according to Dan Doctoroff, Chief Executive for Sidewalk.
The area will operate interconnected computer networks, provide self-driving water vehicles, maintain heated sidewalks to keep them ice-free in winter, and offer coordinated, light-rail transportation. Other cities in the US and Canada are moving toward smart city concepts through pilot projects in traffic control, data security, and crime prevention.
2. Smart warehousing
Interconnecting warehousing activities to drive more efficient supply chain performance is being tested across the business landscape. Ericsson, a provider of wireless connectivity solutions, states the challenge: “To increase productivity, warehouses need to deploy a new level of fast, secure connectivity to support Industry 4.0 solutions and intelligent warehouse automation.”
Efficiencies are being accomplished through robotic pick and pack, interconnected inventory management systems, and supply chain loading and routing software. As the number of warehouse human employees is reduced, so also is the number of human errors in warehouse operations.
3. Smart manufacturing
Internet of Things (IoT) technology is making inroads in manufacturing and process industries. In the past, installing sensor-based data collection devices on production line equipment was both time-consuming and expensive. Today, wireless IoT sensors can be installed quickly and inexpensively, often within one day. These non-intrusive sensors communicate wirelessly to factory-based smart software, which analyzes data and presents important operating metrics in real time to factory employees. Actions can be taken to correct problems as soon as they occur.
Based on the required levels of security, data can be accumulated for historical analysis or distribution to other operating units via private, public, or hybrid cloud-based systems.
Most importantly, IoT, in its current configuration, can exist side by side with older-style process control loops. It has been shown that in large process operations such as refineries, as many as one-third of process control loops are operating in a sub-optimal mode. IoT technology, working alongside installed process control loops, can help identify and adjust out-of-spec control parameters.
4. Blockchain and security
Blockchain is a relatively recent development in IoT news, and it is revolutionary. Blockchain’s operational concept is based on transparency, immutability, and decentralization. Data posted to a block is open for participants in the blockchain to see, distributed among all participants (thousands or millions of computers), and immutable or unchangeable. The blockchains are digital spreadsheets linked via a system of encrypted codes or “hashes” and spread to all participants across the internet. Because of the encryption, the source and destination of the transactions are hidden. A malicious change to the data in the blocks is nearly impossible because all participants in the chain would have to validate the alteration.
The immutability of the blockchain concept is finding applications in many areas where the security of a transactional system is required. For example, blockchain can be used to secure intragovernmental financial transfers. This allows for real-time, secure settlement of obligations and reduces human errors.
Work is just beginning on utilizing blockchain technology to address IoT security issues. Among the subjects currently being studied are authentication of data at the source, security of transmitted data, security of data posted in ledgers, and verifiability of ledger transactions. As the IoT’s reach expands, these and other security issues will be solved, and the power of these systems will be put to greater use.
The Internet of Things is quickly morphing into a world of device interconnectivity. As the number of linked applications and systems increases, businesses and individuals can enjoy new and profitable benefits. Real-time data processing, “instant” communications, and lower costs can be realized by applying these technologies. Companies that keep up with IoT news and take advantage of what they learn will see improved productivity, faster service delivery, and reduced product costs.
Today, manufacturing operations are benefiting from IoT technologies that drive improved performance and increased revenues. At the forefront of these developments is Worximity Inc., a leading supplier of integrated production line monitoring systems. Using Worximity’s technologies, sensors affixed to manufacturing equipment deliver real-time production data to analytical software. Key performance metrics are then computed and displayed on dashboards or TileBoards located throughout the factory, so real-time data is available for all employees to see. Because of this data. out-of-spec operating conditions are immediately apparent. If problems arise, supervisors can make equipment or line adjustments before defects accumulate or production operations deteriorate. To see Worximity’s systems and capabilities firsthand, contact us today.