A smartwatch monitors your 10,000 steps. A thermostat turns off the air conditioning when you're not in the room. This smart technology is called IoT, and we're seeing increasing use cases for smarter living.
The IoT segment is rapidly expanding because the use cases are seemingly endless. McKinsey said that, by 2030, IoT could enable $5.5 trillion to $12.6 trillion in value globally.
Combine IoT with AI and 5G, and the possibilities are endless. Manufacturers use industrial IoT (IIoT) to remotely monitor machines. As a result, IIoT cuts down on waste, improves build quality and saves on electricity.
IoT technology is advancing quickly, and some of its use cases are surprising. Here are four interesting ways IoT is being used.
1. Farming smarter, not harder
To meet growing population food needs, tech-forward farms use IoT sensors to gather real-time soil quality and crop growth data. IoT data can also predict crop yields and track livestock health. This data also helps minimize valuable resource waste in a time of water scarcity.
The Hello Tractor software platform uses IoT to help small-scale farmers share resources. Tractor owners can use IoT to collect engine data, ignition status, battery power and operator performance. Then, when local tractor owners rent out their equipment to other farmers, the Hello Tractor platform can automatically use the collected money to pay down the tractor loan.
2. Making hotel stays smarter
According to a recent PwC report, 70% of hospitality executives said they have active IoT projects -- as opposed to 48% in other industries. Most of their projects focus on improving customer experience, security and asset management.
Occupancy sensors can alert housekeeping when a room is ready to be cleaned. Connected room service trays can notify staff when they need to be picked up. Smart heating systems and occupancy sensors can maintain a consistent temperature and turn thermostats and HVAC systems off when no one is in the room.
3. Sensors in forests reduce illegal logging
Environmental crimes are often carried out by organized criminal networks that use sophisticated machinery for large-scale operations, such as logging. These criminal networks are also directly linked groups that destabilize fragile settings worldwide.
Romania has established the first smart forest. Within the forest are embedded IoT acoustic sensors that listen for the sounds of logging. The system then sends real-time alerts with geolocation information to an app installed on forest administrators' or rangers' phones so that they can intervene immediately.
4. IoT helps make better beer
IIoT is used in nearly every aspect of manufacturing. With thermal imaging, manufacturers can monitor the build quality of sealed products, such as motherboards, and prevent potential fires.
Sugar Creek Brewing uses AI and IIoT to check beer quality. The fill levels of the beer bottles led to excessive foaming, which, in turn, led to excessive dissolved oxygen in the beer. Too much oxygen in the beer ruins the quality of the flavor and reduces the shelf life.
The spillage problem cost Sugar Creek $30,000 per month -- until it installed an IIoT system. Now, with cameras and IIoT, it is on track to save a considerable amount of money.
The uses of IoT are endless; we haven't even scratched the surface of what's to come. If there's a thing that can be measured, IoT can help collect the data. If 5G and AI are also pulled into the mix, the technology becomes a powerhouse that will change the world economy.
About the author
Erik Kling has more than 25 years of experience in the communication technology field covering hardware, software, services and solution elements of the industry. Erik joined Vodafone in September 2010 and is currently leading the Vodafone IoT business in the Americas as Head of Sales. His responsibilities include building and developing the IoT domestic team including the Latin America region, driving IoT solutions into Vodafone large multinational accounts along with additional customers and markets and defining, developing and nurturing the IoT ecosystem.