Before we get into the fray, let’s examine a few facts:
- Evidence indicates that wheels were first used in pottery during or around the period of 3500B.C. It took some 300 years for them to be used as an aide to transportation and now, in 2016 A.D., they’re an indispensable part of land transport.
- The Wright Brothers’ first flight was in 1903. Almost a century later, airplanes are one of the fastest and most frequently used modes of transportation.
- Arguably, around the same time as the Wright Brothers’ rise to fame, the computer was introduced and by the end of the 20th century, the world had been introduced to the internet, personal computers and mobile phones.
Enter the 21st century: an era when technology has advanced so much that personal computers gave birth to mobile computers (laptops), smart watches have been introduced and mobile phones have been replaced by smartphones in only 9 years of their introduction to the world. However, that’s not all. With the advent of technology and the unquenchable thirst that humankind has for increasing efficiency, thereby increasing laziness as well, has led to the invention of gadgets conveniently termed as the, “Internet of Things”.
The “Internet of Things” or IoT refers to “smarter” smart tech. In layman’s terms it is all about being connected and reducing the gap between the digital and physical world. It includes everything from Google’s self-driving cars to Philips’ Hue lightbulbs whose colors can be changed using an app on your smartphone. Your smartwatch can monitor your heartbeat but what if it could also look out for sudden drops in it that happen when you get a stroke and call an ambulance accordingly? Or what if your refrigerator could place an order online for items such as butter, eggs or other grocery items according to your consumption so that you don’t have to do so. IoT makes it all possible and possibly more.
IoT is being implemented by business to market products. One such example is the use of Bluetooth devices in 4,500 Rite Aid stores in the U.S. to forward promotional content onto phones and to observe buyer behavior. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags are also being used by retailers and wholesalers to keep track of their stock levels. IoT is helping businesses grow in a variety of other ways as well.
Putting the business aspect aside, let’s have a look at how Barcelona, Spain has implemented IoT. Barcelona has really made life easier for its residents by offering them better ways to perform traditional tasks. With city-wide availability of Wi-Fi, a lot of the previously tedious tasks have now become much easier. In Barcelona:
- You can search for free/available parking spots in the city.
- You can pay for metered parking spots via your smartphone.
- You get real-time updates about buses and their schedules from smart bus stops.
- You can find out about air quality, temperature and pedestrian traffic thanks to the city wide sensor network.
With IoT, the possibilities are endless and as demonstrated by Barcelona, they are certainly not limited to just money-making. IoT is going to be a game-changer in public services as well. We are looking forward to the wonders it will bring to this world!