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Successful IoT implementations today

The IoT: time to take a bow


Internet of Things (IoT) success stories don't always arrive with great fanfare. That's because so many are associated with seemingly mundane items, like industrial valves and surgical equipment. How many laypeople are even aware of how the IoT is making power plants safer, or logistics more efficient?

 

Yet don't be fooled. Whether we notice or not, the IoT is transforming how we live and work. Consider some of the best and most successful IoT implementations, how they're influencing entire industries, and how they're changing the way we do business.

Superior fleet management


IoT location trackers, sensors, and transmitters installed in vehicles and freight are already changing the way goods are packed, shipped, and delivered. Fleet managers can get up-to-the-second reports not just on vehicle position, but on speed, tire pressure, and oil temperature. Managers can even receive G-force readings that might indicate dangerous or uncontrolled movements. Combining these data streams with managerial insight gives companies a chance to significantly increase fleet effectiveness while lowering cost and liability.

 

Staying in touch with drivers through connected devices and optimizing their routes on the fly using IoT data saves Canadian delivery service Sure Track Courier thousands of dollars in monthly highway tolls, and 10 percent on overall fuel costs.
 

In the United Kingdom, logistics firm CMS uses IoT devices to improve the fuel consumption of its fleet of 29 vans by 3.3 miles per gallon. CMS engages workers with a Driver Challenge program, showing them their safety and efficiency performance and encouraging them, in a game-like way, to climb the driver leaderboard.

Understanding workplace dynamics


The IoT is changing the way we work with one another through a new class of device: the sociometric sensor. These wearable sensors can combine positional sensors, microphones, and cameras, measuring not only how we work but whom we work with, and how much stress we experience on the job.

 

One pioneer in the space, Humanyze, has already deployed its sociometric sensors in companies around the world, from finance to mining to pharmaceuticals. One bank found that strong social skills and workplace engagement during break periods directly correlates with on-the-job productivity. The study led the bank to revamp break schedules and employee engagement policies across the board, resulting in a 23 percent productivity increase and 28 percent improvement in retention. An academic study expands on this work to propose a systematic way to quantify stress levels among individuals and groups.

Reinventing healthcare


IoT capabilities have already dramatically impacted the business of medicine. Field-programmable insulin pumps, defibrillators, and pacemakers are already a mainstream reality. New connected operations are emerging all the time, leveraging the myriad of sensors already available in cell phones: One pioneering trial showed that an ordinary smartphone could perform lung function tests with clinically acceptable accuracy. The tools don't take clinicians out of patient care, but they do help people manage their health better while providing better information to remote practitioners. That makes more trips to clinics and hospitals unnecessary.

 

Innovators are pushing even further. The German company Babybe GmbH has developed an integrated solution for premature births, the BABYBE. The BABYBE uses a remote prosthetic called a “turtle," cradled or worn by a parent, that senses the parent's temperature and heart rate. Those sensations are communicated to an infant in a specially-designed neonatal bed. Clinical trials showed that infants experienced less stress and gained weight faster than those under conventional care.

 

South Korea's healthcare services have an aggressive plan to deploy standardized IoT devices in a coordinated fashion. The designs emphasize interoperability, data security, and abilities ranging from military readiness to elder care monitoring.

Minding the store


If you've been to a mall, you've probably already seen at least one store with a major IoT time-saver. Dynamic pricing through digital signage is already a reality at several major retailers. Some chains have pushed much deeper. Carrefour Taiwan's IoT transformation has improved everything from air quality to customer satisfaction.
 

Today, any retail environment can quickly deploy IoT tags to improve inventory controls and install navigation beacons to help shoppers find what they need faster. Done right, in-store wayfinding is accurate down to the individual aisle and shelf. Today many of these solutions are smartphone-based, but connected lighting solutions make it feasible to guide shoppers and literally spotlight a product on the shelf, without the need for a handheld screen.

An agricultural revolution


Never underestimate how eager agriculture is to embrace new technology. IoT technologies are everywhere in humanity's oldest organized industry, from tractor management to livestock feeding.
 

One particularly promising emerging project is the Leafy Green Machine, which packs an IoT-laden farm into a standard shipping container. The project combines conventional design efficiencies with extensive interactive controls to produce tons of produce from a single shipping container. Everything from nutrient release to lighting is sensor-controlled and can be managed remotely. The entire yield can be managed by a single part-time farmer.

The high-productivity city


The smart city isn't exactly a business application, but it can make doing business a lot easier.
 

Take Singapore. Since 1998, the city-state has used data analytics to reduce traffic congestion using variable road tolls that discourage drivers from taking overburdened routes. Now, it's working on an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) that will use sensor data about traffic patterns, road conditions, and weather to dynamically change speed limits, alter lane patterns, and help travelers reroute. That will make doing business in Singapore that much easier. At the most basic level, employees will find it that much easier to get to work.
 

It's not only Singapore, either. Analysis by Juniper Research finds that smart cities running on IoT platforms are in general already well on their way to saving citizens 125 hours per year by optimizing mobility, public safety, healthcare, and productivity.
 

Each of these examples demonstrates how the IoT is more than a series of technological innovations. The IoT is really a collaborative tool that helps innovators in every industry create better ways of living and working.
 

A next step, of course, will be to give everyone access to that tool — to integrate IoT solutions seamlessly into our lives. And one effective platform that can do just that is connected lighting. Data-enabling our lighting systems — which are already installed everywhere, and which, in a LED age, are already digital — is an easy way to make the IoT ubiquitous. From the smart office to the data-driven new hospital and clinic to the smart city, lighting infrastructure can be the factor that brings the IoT age into its maturity.

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