As Westbase.io celebrates our 30 years in the tech industry, we reflect on how the Internet of Things has had a positive impact both on business and society.
To this end, we have hand-picked 30 of our favourite IoT inventions as part of a new blog series which we will run throughout 2019. In this article, number 1 of 3, we take a look at our first 10 IoT inventions.
One – Closed-loop Insulin Delivery System
Known as the “closed-loop insulin delivery system” or “artificial pancreas”, patients with type one diabetes can more easily monitor the delivery of their insulin and glucose levels thanks to this automated device. Data taken from the Continuous Glucose Monitoring device joins the insulin pump (which is attached to the patient) and, using software and algorithms, the patient can be injected with a more accurate dose of insulin or glucagon as and when needed – with all information recorded on an app. Patients today still need to monitor their dosage needs, as closed-loop insulin delivery is still a relatively new technology, with completely automated insulin delivery systems still in trial phases.
Two – Automated Systems
Automated systems in the manufacturing and processing industries are revolutionising the way in which machinery and data are functioning as one, creating faster working and more consistent processes, safer working environments and, of course, reducing overall costs. This new-found speed and reliability thanks to automated robotics and systems has resulted in consumers now experiencing faster processing and delivery times, changing the B2B and B2C buying and delivery experience.
Three – Body Cameras
Body worn cameras have become an integral part of our emergency services’ kit, acting as an added layer of security and insurance. Not only do body worn cameras record in real-time but thanks to IoT integration they can live stream and share video content with remote teams. They also commonly feature active GPS, have an increased battery life, and include integrated security software. In addition to acting as a safety tool, body worn cameras are capturing vital information which can be used as evidence when needed.
Four – Precision Farming
Water management in farming is becoming an increasing concern due to the pressures on food production. To combat water wastage and increase annual crop yields, precision farming technology such as Drip Irrigation and Variable Rate Irrigation is becoming more common. Drip Irrigation with embedded IoT technology regulates water dosages to crops with the use of automatically managed pumps and valves that only issue the required water levels while reducing wastage. Similarly, Variable Rate Irrigation allows farmers to distribute water and nutrients to individual plants as opposed to a “blanket” approach, as regulation varies greatly between different agricultural types and climatic regions. Although expensive to install, farmers are now realising the long-term investment of smart irrigation systems.
Five – Early Warning Systems
Early warning systems, such as smart meteorological sensors, can be placed in and around cities and other areas of habitation to monitor environmental parameters. These could include water and air quality, noise, humidity, wind change, temperature, pollen count and more. The data collected from these sensors builds a bigger picture for the authorities as it highlights when drastic changes in weather conditions may occur, allowing them to proactively allocate resources in preparation for a possible threat such as a storm, drought or earthquake. The information gathered by authorities can also be shared with the public to inform them of potentially dangerous conditions so they can act before the disaster occurs – for example, by issuing evacuation notices earlier than previously possible and therefore potentially saving more lives.
Six – RFID Technology
RFID technology has revolutionised the way in which data can be automatically recorded, tracked and received when attached to almost any object. As the RFID “tags” are small, cost effective and easy to adopt, the technology has become popular in various industries including retail, manufacturing, transport/logistics and processing, replacing old and often unreliable methods of manual calculating and monitoring. Providing information such as location, delivery status and real-time stock availability, RFID helps improve product visibility by allowing businesses to regulate stock flow, reduce unnecessary costs, and provide accurate stock information to customers. RFID has also been adopted by some retailers for advanced theft prevention, helping to reduce the thousands lost due to shoplifting every year.
Seven – CCTV Systems
Smart CCTV systems allow the authorities to monitor any location remotely, using different cameras to provide a 360-degree view at any time. This element of flexibility can help in critical situations, for example by alerting emergency services to an exact incident location and providing detailed information on the situation. AI-enabled CCTV systems, alongside analytical algorithms, also have facial recognition capabilities which can pinpoint individuals that authorities may be interested in.
Eight – Smart Inhalers
Like many health conditions, asthma can have a devastating effect on an individual’s quality of life as its classic symptoms (shortness of breath and chest tightness) can be brought on by simple day-to-day tasks. Smart inhalers have been developed to provide some relief for asthma sufferers, by using a sensor which is attached to an existing inhaler or Bluetooth spirometer that when connected to an app, can provide allergen forecasts and air quality readings while also tracking when and how much medication has been received.
Nine – Fault Detection Diagnostics
Fault Detection Diagnostics (FDD) integrated with analytical systems can be deployed inside and outside buildings that may be at risk of structural damage. By detecting unusual building movements and vibrations, the system can notify engineers if structural work needs to be completed before it becomes critical.
Ten – Blockchain
Blockchain allows the creation of tamper-proof, real-time records, and was originally created as a by-product of the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Though not a direct IoT invention, by combining Blockchain with the IoT, we can potentially create a verifiable, secure and enduring way of recording the data processed by smart devices. This offers many benefits such as: increased transparency for better analysis; the ability to identify weak spots and tackle them quickly; the removal of human interaction for increased accuracy and security of the data; the ability to facilitate automatic “smart contracts” when certain conditions are met; and an overall increased layer of security which leverages the most robust encryption standards available.