This week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the IoT is again front-and-center, and its truly revolutionary nature is on display. Don’t be thrown by the occasional connected toothbrush.
We’re entering a time when it’s impossible to view the IoT as just some kind of semi-interesting science project. IoT is being leveraged across industries and verticals to enhance services and products around the world. Cities are using sensors, smart meters and big data analytics to improve utility services, water management, waste management, transportation services and parking. Healthcare companies are deploying wearables and embedded devices to gather real-time data about their patients and deliver timely, life-saving care. The appliances in our homes are increasingly IoT devices that can adjust how they function according to data being gathered about our habits and the environment.
The IoT is becoming essential to business, and ubiquitous enough that you’re probably regularly interacting with it, even if you don’t know it.
Essential to compete
The IoT has moved through a few distinct phases. The first focused on figuring out how to collect useful data from previously mute objects or materials. Think, for example, of the sensors deployed by farmers to monitor variable soil conditions such as moisture. Next, the focus was on analytics, where you mashed that data up with existing data to gain unique insights. So now new data on soil conditions is combined with data on weather or crop yields to adjust irrigation patterns for maximum water efficiency and crop productivity.
Today, we’re at the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning phase, where devices are using data and analysis from the second phase to identify patterns and propose or enact solutions. A consumer-focused example is an IoT-enabled bed that can adjust firmness based years of data about the user’s sleep patterns, or raise a person’s head when it detects a coming snore, to help cut it off before it starts.
The unique capabilities and insights of the IoT aren’t just offering companies competitive advantage. As the IoT is harnessed by more companies in more industries, they are becoming essential to compete. A survey by Verizon indicates 73% of executives are researching or currently deploying IoT. And as business becomes more committed to IoT, the technology has become so ubiquitous in everyday life, people may not think twice about it. There’s smart thermostats people can control from their cell phones, devices in cars that auto insurance companies use to identify safe or risky drivers, and location-based advertising that pinpoints a consumers whereabouts using mobile device data and serves a relevant ad straight to their smart phone.
A number of products that will be showcased at CES 2018 highlight ways the IoT is advancing business capabilities and consumer benefits. Here are a few examples:
- Brain-to-vehicle driving: Driverless cars are always a hot tech topic, but drivers (and their brain waves) are critical to the so-called “brain-to-vehicle” technology Nissan says will improve driver safety. Nissan will demonstrate “brain-decoding technology” that predicts when a driver is about to abruptly brake or turn to avoid collisions and helps them do it faster. The tech can also sense driver discomfort and adjust cabin conditions and driving style to alleviate the problem.
- Robots, at your service: LG Electronics is getting ready to show us just how far IoT-fueled technologies like AI have advanced by showcasing three “concept robots” at CES. One delivers food and drinks to customers at hotels and airports, another handles check-in and check-out services at hotels and carries luggage to rooms, and the third works in supermarkets, telling customers product prices and guiding them through aisles.
- Soles that improve safety: GTX Corp will showcase new biometric insoles that aim to prevent the falls that so often cause serious injury among older people. The insoles use sensors and foot and biomechanical analytics and algorithms to provide gait analysis that can detect when falls are becoming more likely, as well as adverse reactions to new medications, undetected strokes or early onset dementia.
The IoT and interconnection
The billions of “things” that make up the IoT obviously produce and process enormous amounts of data, much of which must be collected and analyzed in real-time for IoT-based products and services to function as they should. That requires instant, low-latency interconnection between the devices, sensors, clouds, end users, etc. that make it all happen. Equinix is the home of interconnection – direct, private data exchange between businesses.
Equinix gives you access to the major networks and cloud service providers in 48 of the top markets globally. No other colocation provider has that kind of reach. Through services such as the Equinix Cloud Exchange™ Fabric, we help companies connect safely and efficiently to key markets, partners, clouds and networks globally, right out at the digital edge, where commerce, population centers and digital ecosystems meet.
Read the Platform Equinix Vision paper to find out more about how Equinix supports technologies like the IoT by enabling companies to reach everywhere, interconnect everyone and integrate everything.