What is or isn’t connected: In the end, that is the internet of things and intelligent sensors. They, the things, represent stuff that has been around for the past 30 years. It was only recently that we have developed a way to consistently connect those devices. Despite the increasing awareness of IoT, it is easy to forget that it includes some devices that might seem strange to connect, like elevators and HVAC systems. By connecting these devices and using the existing sensors and technology, IoT presents the immense opportunity for a variety of industries to improve their operations at an unprecedented rate. At its core, IoT is all about better managing the assets you have.
Though IoT offers these benefits, it remains a foreign concept to end users and connectable-device owners, alike. Though there is a great deal of IoT-buzz in tech circles, people who own the connectable assets might not know how they can use IoT to better manage their assets, and people who use the devices might not be aware that they’re interacting with a connected device. IoT isn’t reserved for the techies among us; the common person increasingly interacts with IoT devices that provide improved functionality through their connectedness.
For example, by using a connected sensor in an elevator, you can better manage the flow of passengers to alleviate wait times. Elevators report on their current status (where they are) to a centralized system. That system can adjust where the elevators are during the day based on the day of the week. That increases the number of people that can ride the elevators and decreases the average wait time. By simply tracking the number and time of elevator requests, you can improve the efficiency of the elevator system. Have you ever called an elevator and then waved it off because it was too full? Or worse, have you ever ridden in a full elevator that stops on every floor? Intelligent sensors in the elevators could easily override the system controls and skip floors. Full elevators with no more floors selected can become express elevators.
Subway systems can use similar real-time monitoring systems to know where the cars are and when they are running behind. Full subway cars can skip stations by incorporating data on how many passengers are on board, and which stops they need. The LEDs on the wall inform the waiting potential passengers that train is full. The information potential alone for passengers is incredible. This combines with a greater ability to make up time on schedules to offer massive improvements in the overall management of the subway. No one would mind waiting an extra 10 minutes at the station if they end up at their destination 30 minutes earlier.
Improving Patient Treatment
In addition to improving our daily commutes, IoT can also help improve our healthcare experiences. Medical professionals have the potential to make life-saving and ultimately life-guiding changes for their patients as they receive up-to-the-minute information about blood pressure, blood sugar, body temperature and any other metrics or issues before the appointment. Between appointments, they get that information as well from various sensors in home testing devices. As the patient self-measures some of these metrics, their physician can track their improvement remotely to be better prepared to fine tune the patient’s treatment at the next appointment.
There are two additions to this that will change both the data and the analysis rapidly. The first is intelligent sensors that are able to understand what the expected range of data they are collecting should be. If the data is in the expected range, the sensor doesn’t initiate a report, whereas it reports on unexpected readings. The other innovation that is taking hold is that of mesh networks for the sensors. Instead of the sensor reporting to a single device through a single connection, the sensor now reports to a mesh. The mesh has multiple broadcast systems so that it is able to route data quickly and effectively. Mesh sensors combined with intelligent sensors make for interesting combinations, including a resilient network that houses and manages sensors that only report when there are variances outside the norm.
Regardless of the form that IoT developments take next, device owners and users, alike, will enjoy the improved efficiency and user experience that these new technologies will offer. There are so many more things that can and will come out of the concept of mesh intelligent sensors. It should be an interesting ride.
By Scott Andersen