The internet is a fascinating subject, an electronic world of ‘invisible’ possibilities that connects you to endless information. People refer to the internet as ‘the cloud’ and it is exactly that; it moves through the sky and let’s us watch videos on YouTube, connect with family and friends on social media, cheat on quizzes by looking up the answers on Google. It also helps our businesses and work, as physical paper letters have been replaced with e-mails sent in nanoseconds, customers look at your products and services through a website or online business forum and a filing cabinet could be no more when all your information is stored on an online account.

So what happens when you apply the internet, something invisible, to physical objects? This is what is known as ‘The Internet of Things’.

The Internet of things (IoT) by official definition is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity which enables these things to connect, collect and exchange data or be controlled through the internet. Popular products that uses this includes Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ which uses voice control to order items from Amazon for you, play music from Spotify for you and switch off appliances like TVs and lights all from the comfort of your chair. Or the Nest, a smart thermostat that learns your routines and will automatically adjust the temperature based on when you’re home or away, awake or asleep, hot or cold, to make your house more efficient and help you save on heating and cooling bills.

But IoT isn’t stopping there. As more data is collected by using these tools, the more developers of the ‘things’ are realising that these products are a physical extension of us by helping us to do every day tasks faster, more efficiently, more healthily and helping to save us, either our business or personally, money in the long term through wearable technology, not just by holding a smart phone and using an app. Are you wearing a FitBit or an Apple Watch?

I attended a presentation for a new warehouse management system built by Oracle, and emerging technologies specialist Andy Baxendale described IoT in the laymen’s term perfectly. To paraphrase, ‘IoT is about connecting products to humans…as wearables become more popular and shift to new markets, IoT becomes our human senses: we already have hearing aids for ears, smart clothing that regulates temperature and adaptive eyewear, so however we as humans can translate a sense to a piece of technology, the possibilities for use are endless.’

There are so many capabilities emerging for people using IoT, particularly staff for transport and logistics businesses, to do every day business operations. For example:

  • Warehouse workers are using exoskeletons to help support the back and legs when lifting heavy boxes. The technology takes the stress from muscles and joints and does the harder work for them, meaning less time off sick with injuries.
  • Using augmented-reality headsets to map a warehouse and show staff exactly where a product is located or needs to be stocked, scans barcodes to check stock levels and reorders when low and shows instructions for delivering the product…right in front of their eyes!
  • The GPS system in large fleet vehicles knowing how tall the lorry is so that when mapping a route, it can avoid low bridges and save the hassle of the driver turning around and wasting time going around it

How can you use the Internet of Things to be an extension of you and your senses? Call us now to see how TALE can support you with grants to purchase new software to improve how your business uses data.

Photo Credits (reproduced with kind permission):

Exoskeleton image – The equipment may be expensive to purchase as a single payment, but employers see a return on investment quickly as staff don’t take time off with injuries relating to their roles. Image from the ‘Emerging Tech for WMS’ presentation by Andy Baxendale, EMEA Emerging Technology Advisor @Oracle

Senses image – The Internet of Things could be seen as a physical and electronic extension of human senses. Image from the ‘Emerging Tech for WMS’ presentation by Andy Baxendale, EMEA Emerging Technology Advisor @Oracle