The “internet of things” – buzzword or the next big thing?

July 01, 2015 by John Hatcher

Matt Salter, delivery director of Redstone looks at how the IoT will affect smart buildings

We’ve been firm believers in the power of smart buildings for many years here at Redstone; connected technologies intelligently embedded in the day-to-day operations of a building can help organisations operate more effectively and efficiently.

But just as trends from business spread to home and vice versa, smart buildings are not just limited to the workplace. We’re starting to see a big increase in connected technologies for homes. It’s clear that the tech giants are seeing it as the next big battleground, and recent acquisitions and launches are putting automation and connectivity in the minds of consumers.

More and more, products are becoming embedded with sensors creating the ability to communicate with each other which is fuelling the next technology revolution we’re all anticipating - the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT is admittedly the latest buzzword because our industry does loves buzzwords! But I do feel it’s a good one, and does what it says on the tin.

It’s essentially an expanding network of interconnected internet-enabled devices. Although still presently at the ‘early adopter’ stage, analyst group IDC estimates that by 2020 there will be an estimated 212 billion interconnected things, all in constant communication with each other.

So what does it all mean? When it comes to everyday technology, we mostly think of being connected in terms of communication via computers, tablets and smartphones. However, IoT takes it to a whole new level where anything that can be digitally enabled can be connected and communicate in an intelligent way, creating one huge information system.

According to an article in The Observer earlier this year, tech giants Apple and Google are responding to this trend. At a recent developer’s conference, Apple introduced Homekit, an Internet of Things platform that can co-ordinate third-party home automation devices, allowing you to turn lights on or off or even unlock doors via an iPhone.
Meanwhile Google recently purchased Nest Labs, a home automation company. The company is known for connected thermostats and smoke detectors and is currently developing a raft of other applications for the home, everything from health tracking to security systems.

Beyond our homes, IoT will have a huge impact on how our cities operate, for example transportation systems connecting to the internet will be able to talk to each other thereby helping cities minimise congestion, improve parking facilities and keeping rail networks running on time.

Businesses will be looking at how to best get to grips with this fast-evolving interconnected environment as information networks promise to create new business models, improve business processes and realise new ways of working. They’ll also need to adapt to attract the best talent. Young employees are entering the workplace completely used to using technology for everything they do – if the business environment doesn’t allow them to work how they want, they’ll go elsewhere.

It may sound like another buzzword, but it won’t be long before the Internet of Things touches all of our lives and is embedded into everything we do.

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