IoT devices can include smartphones and smartwatches, but the term generally refers to technologies such as smart home devices and industrial sensors. IoT devices constantly communicate with other devices. An IoT sensor, for example, doesn’t just collect data; it autonomously and wirelessly reports the collected data to an IoT gateway.
IoT devices can also transmit data to other sensors and automation tools. An employee could monitor the operation of an automated assembly line in real time without going to the factory.
As the IoT industry continues to mature, the world is sure to see new use cases for this communication technology and expanded functionality for current devices. Knowing the specifics of IoT devices and their use cases can help IT administrators use the best-fit software and policies to ensure that IoT device deployments go smoothly, integrate easily with older infrastructure and are secure.
1. Smart home devices
Smart home devices are the most common consumer IoT products. AI assistant speakers, smart locks and connected devices are just a few smart home device examples that help people live more efficient and connected lives.
An IoT-connected fridge can tell homeowners when they are low on specific groceries. Similarly, an IoT doorbell could detect when someone approaches the front door, even before they ring the bell.
Smart home devices have been the subject of controversy regarding security. Hackers have strategies to take advantage of these devices and access to homes. Smart locks are particularly infamous for smart home hacking. These devices can be easy to hack because anyone can access a smart home device with a simple password or by pressing a button in a smartphone app.
2. Industrial sensors
Industrial IoT (IIoT) supports use cases in automation, security, and data collection. With industrial sensors, companies can gain valuable information and capabilities in the workplace, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and construction sites.
Industrial vehicles and machinery can be equipped with IIoT sensors that track performance and output. These sensors also enable predictive maintenance, which prevents costly breakdowns, costly repairs and downtime.
IoT sensors also monitor various processes, such as inventory management in warehouses. Organizations of all sizes can implement digitized inventory management with IoT sensors that monitor the status and condition of items. The most tech-savvy companies are known for double their revenue per employee compared to companies without a lot of technology buy-in.
3. Industrial robots
Industrial organizations are also using IoT technology in robots. For example, many warehouses use autonomous courier robots. These robots are equipped with IoT sensors that report their location and performance on the warehouse floor. IoT sensors make navigation easier and can scan QR codes throughout the warehouse to guide their route.
In industrial fields, IoT robots can fill labor shortages and improve operational efficiency. Managers should train employees on how to work safely alongside these robots. Inadequate training can lead to accidents or misuse of robots, even though they can operate largely autonomously.
Managers should ensure that they choose the right connectivity option. Large facilities like warehouses may require a specialized approach to achieve reliable connectivity everywhere. Since Ethernet, Wi-Fi, low-power WANs, satellites, and cellular networks can all support IoT devices, organizations should research which option is best for their robotics deployment.
4. Health Devices
In healthcare facilities, IoT devices are crucial for patient care. IoT medical devices help nurses remotely monitor patient vital signs so that healthcare teams can better care for their services.
Healthcare IoT technology can also monitor patient health outside of the doctor’s office. Remote home monitoring helps protect patients and avoid repetitive and costly hospital visits. Even smartwatches have become valuable medical IoT tools that provide EKGs and accurately track vital signs, such as heart rate and blood sugar.
Reliability and security are the main challenges of IoT health devices. Like any IoT device, the convenience of connectivity makes these medical devices vulnerable to hacking. In addition, if the device loses its connection or malfunctions, it must have strong safeguards to prevent injury to the patient.
Healthcare providers must have strong cybersecurity protocols in place to protect sensitive patient data collected by IoT medical devices.
5. Connected cars
The IoT has continued to evolve in the automotive industry. The technology is found in vehicle entertainment, navigation and maintenance monitoring systems.
Adoption of IoT for automotive use case will only grow as autonomous vehicles become more advanced and more common; many consumers now have advanced driver assistance systems that detect nearby cars or can even help parallel park the car.
The IoT makes life easier for drivers and automakers. With IoT, a car’s entertainment or driver assistance system can receive updates remotely without the driver needing to take the car to the dealership.
Over-the-air software updates also help automakers stay one step ahead of potential security risks. Unfortunately, IoT-enabled vehicles have been hacked, including rare cases on the road.