Published On: Fri, Jun 9th, 2017

When it Comes to IoT, Engineering Reigns Supreme

There is no denying the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices is transforming the world that we live in.  While much of the hoopla has been focused on the home – e.g. Alexa and Google Home – the reality is that IoT is having its biggest impact behind the scenes in manufacturing and other industrial applications.  As such, IoT is a field where engineering reigns supreme.

This is more than just a gimmick.  Bosch created an entire IoT company to help move the company forward.  This serves as a reminder of the big bucks behind this emerging technology.  But what often gets lost is players in multiple industries are already relying on IoT devices and high-performance sensors to help power a myriad of applications.

innovation sign

photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

What is IoT?

For those who don’t know, IoT includes a variety of devices, sensors, and meters, all of which are tied to the internet and can either gather information for a centralized database or help to make decisions on the spot.  

One example of an industrial IoT application is Smart Building Management Systems (SBMS).  These systems help to manage all the functions of a building including security, environmental controls, and even the elevator systems.

Another important device in the development of IoT is the smartphone.  In fact, IoT would not be possible without mobile internet – either via Wifi or mobile networks.  Much of the credit for this enabling technology goes to the millions of engineers who have helped to make science fiction a reality.

Back to the SMBS example, the confluence of the multitude of sensors and mobile devices has made it possible to manage complex systems remotely, and in real time.  This has freed up building managers, machine technicians, and even engineers by allowing them to be everywhere at once.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

What Goes into IoT?

As you may have guessed, IoT cannot happen without a combination of the internet connectivity and other hardware elements.  However, an increasingly important aspect of IoT are sensors and actuators which not only can be managed remote but can also work autonomously.

In fact, the future of IoT is very much about autonomy.  Either via devices which have embedded CPUs or through local networks which can aggregate information and then make decisions based on a combination of Artificial Intelligence and human curation.

While some industry analysts estimate that more than 60 percent of IoT devices will be self-actualized by 2020 – if not sooner.  The reality is engineers of all stripes are already busy designing, building, and field testing these devices today.

This included using existing low-power consumption standards for wireless data collection and communication such as Bluetooth Low Energy, Radio Frequency Identification, and Zigbee.  Some of these technologies are even being used for devices which can be implanted in humans – for example, continuous glucose monitors.

Another example of the technologies which engineers are working on to help expand the reach of IoT include batteries and wireless recharging – both of which will help to untether industry-specific IoT devices from their power sources.

However, the explosion of IoT-enabled devices – more than 20 billion by 2020 – means that the world could quickly run out of internet addresses.  As such, engineers are busy working on new ways to connect devices to the networks without maxing out addresses.

What’s Around the Bend?

The range of potential applications which can fall under the label of ‘IoT’ is almost limitless.  According to Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, the industrial internet alone could add as much as $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030, if not sooner.  This would make the industrial internet the third largest economy in the world – only surpassed by China and the U.S.

To take advantage of this potential, GE has announced plans to invest more than $1 billion dollars in developing IoT technologies.  However, the conglomerate is not alone and companies from almost every sector have announced plans to bake IoT technologies into their products and services.

This will transform the future of manufacturing and while IoT will not eliminate human jobs it will change job descriptions forever.   However, many of these changes will mean that even menial jobs will likely become more technical in the future and this means the growing skills gap will only get wider.  

As such, the continued growth of IoT and related technologies will depend on armies of engineers to make the promise a reality.

Author: Ravi Kumarr Gupta



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  1. Venkat says:

    Yes, its a good article. Saturam are experts at building Connected-smart-data Apps. Be it Banking, Retail, Food or Hospitality, at Saturam our domain experts will help you architect, develop and deploy Embedded Analytics and IoT Streaming Apps.

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