The Internet of Things is the Land of Opportunity
But now it has become the Internet of Things (IOT). Experts predict that in a few years there could be 100 billion devices—actual physical things—connected to the web. Some of these devices are online today. More—many more—are coming soon.
In the IOT, devices equipped with sensors, hardware and software are networked together through the internet, where they can communicate with one another, machine-to-machine (M2M). Intelligent devices are changing the way we eat, drive, communicate, receive medical care, light our cities and consume energy.
Sensors embedded in roads control traffic flow. Vending machines tell us when they need to be refilled. A heart patient’s pacemaker alerts her cardiologist to a problem before it becomes dangerous. With sensors in the soil, farm fields know when they need to be irrigated and fertilized.
The big game-changer is M2M communication, coupled with sophisticated new tools like cloud-based solutions and applications, which analyze the massive amounts data gathered by sensors and turn it into useful information that helps building managers do their jobs better. Imagine thousands of electrical switches, thermostats, lights, door locks, air-handling units, chillers and other components gathering and sharing data. Even solving problems on their own.
In the very near future, lights equipped with sensors that detect the presence or absence of building occupants will cut energy consumption by an estimated 50 to 75 percent. Interconnected units of equipment will work together to find the most efficient way to heat or cool a facility without human intervention. Machines will diagnose their own need for maintenance, which will be scheduled automatically. Total integration will become a reality.
This is all happening now because two important drivers are in place: Opportunity and necessity.
Advances in wireless networking technology and standardized communication protocols make it possible to collect data from sensors almost anywhere, any time. Silicon chips continue to get smaller and more powerful even as their cost drops. Advancements like cloud computing make it possible to crunch numbers and store data on a never-before-seen scale, again with declining costs.
And there are real needs. As the global demand for energy rises, sustainability and energy efficiency aren’t just good financial goals —they’re becoming mandates in many countries, creating new and very real business challenges.
The IOT gives us the power to meet these challenges, and the opportunity to redefine absolutely every aspect of our industry. Because when everything works together, everything works better, works more efficiently and lasts longer than ever before. And it doesn’t stop with making buildings more efficient. Because the IOT makes us humans work better and more efficiently, too.