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    Smart Things Will Get Smarter

    The cloud has changed everything. It enables the internet of things (IoT), the industrial internet of things (IIoT), the artificial intelligence of things (AIoT), and the internet of medical things (IoMT). These modern networks, when connected together, will make things even smarter. But what can we expect next?

    How Smart Can Manufacturing Get?

    Robotics for Assembly

    The manufacturing sector is under constant pressure to lower costs, increase profits, and minimize risk. According to McKinsey, manufacturing is already the most automated sector, and it still has not fully realized the potential for more automation.

    Robots are the perfect vehicle for automation. This is because robots can be used for high-volume, repetitive, or dangerous tasks being that they do not become fatigued, make mistakes due to exhaustion, or get injured. There are already multiple types of industrial robots specialized for transporting, processing, assembling, or inspecting parts.

    Combining the internet of things (IoT) and robotics into the IIoT will complement the efforts of human workers, who are adept at performing nuanced tasks, fine-tuning processes, solving unforeseen problems, or formulating creative solutions. For example, connected robots have been trained to navigate the factory floor to perform more tasks. Also, linking robots to the company’s central cloud can help managers monitor international operations remotely and in real time.

    Identifying Hazards

    The IoT can help reduce workplace hazards by collecting and analyzing the data from many locations in a facility. Such information makes it possible to identify inappropriate personnel or materials in restricted areas or workers who are too tired or distracted to work. For example, wearable sensors embedded into helmets or wristbands can help managers make sure the workers are wearing the proper protective equipment, performing the work procedures correctly, and not becoming overheated or exhausted. Also, the sensors can help alert the managers when the level of radiation or toxic gases is too high.

    Using the IoT/Digital Twins to Speed Product Design and Testing

    In addition to aiding automation, the IoT can help accelerate product design and testing. By combining data collection and analytics, the IoT can create a digital replica, or twin, of the product or prototype.

    For example, by using digital twins to simulate the performance of the different profiles of a jet engine, developers will be able to obtain the resource without actually building multiple jet engines for testing. The design can then be optimized with data simulations.

    Are You Living in a Smart City Now?

    Traffic Control: Traffic Lights, Redirecting Traffic

    We are already living in cities with systems or buildings that can be adjusted to work more effectively. Developments within the IoT are expected to connect more parts of a city’s infrastructure to make it smarter.

    For example, after all the traffic lights and control points are connected, the IoT can adjust the timing of stoplights at particular locations to reduce congestion. Also, the city’s IoT traffic control system can be connected to real-time weather and traffic data. That information can allow drivers to avoid accident scenes or areas experiencing hazardous weather conditions. 

    Smart Buildings

    In addition to bolstering security, the IoT can help improve the management of individual buildings. For example, sensors embedded into elevators can analyze when maintenance should be proactively scheduled to prevent breakdowns. Meanwhile, sensors installed in bathrooms can assist in aligning cleaning schedules with use patterns: more cleaning when foot traffic is high and less cleaning when foot traffic is low. Also, sensors can help building managers determine which rooms are used more than others. Lighting, heating, and cooling can then be adjusted in accordance with this data.

    Using the IoT to Identify Infection Hot Zones and Track the Spread of Viruses

    The IoT can also be used in public health. Previously, using mobile data to track the spread of a transmissible disease was mainly an academic discussion. However, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, mobile data has been used to track the spread of Covid cases and identify the persons potentially at risk of infection.

    What is Inside a Smart Home?

    Remote Control of Temperature and Security

    In the earlier days of the IoT, a thermostat or a door would be connected to a mobile phone to control the house’s temperature or grant a person access to the house remotely. As more appliances are connected to a central hub, their management will become increasingly efficient.

    For example, the IoT’s AI component provides various types of access control to a home. These include facial recognition, voice recognition, fingerprint, and/or iris analysis technology.

    Smart Appliances

    Connected heating and lighting systems, smart TVs, and smart stereos can coordinate to create a home atmosphere matched to the resident’s mood. Also, connecting the fridge or pantry to a virtual assistant can help place orders as needed for the purpose of restocking such essential items as food, pet supplies, and coffee pods.

    Monitoring of the Elderly

    Lastly, as the elderly population increases, more seniors want to live independently despite their high likelihood of having dementia or other age-related illnesses. The IoT can help track the location and health of seniors, giving their family and caretakers peace of mind.

    What is a Smart Hospital?

    Remote Patient Monitoring and Remote Surgery

    Hospitalization is increasingly expensive. The number of hospital beds has been decreasing, and hospitals are constantly short of staff. On the other hand, the number of persons with chronic conditions is increasing. Remote and continuous monitoring can take the place of hospitalization for individuals with chronic conditions. Outpatient care is more appropriate for some patients and offers a less costly alternative to hospitalization. Wearable devices connected to a central hub in the hospital can help facilitate outpatient care. Doctors can use the devices to monitor many patients remotely and implement preventive measures to enhance patients’ health or alleviate symptoms, minimizing the number of hospitalizations. Remote surgery is also taking remote patient care to the next level, fueled by the recent growth of 5G, which has enabled significant improvement in terms of connectivity performance.

    Restocking Supplies

    Hospitals can rely on the IoT to help maintain their supply of essential tools and kits. Being understocked means delayed procedures, underutilized rooms and equipment, and increased cost of care. Thus, proactive, automated restocking will reduce time wasted looking for and ordering supplies.

    Equipment and Patient Tracking

    Similarly, the IoT will help cut down the time that staff spends looking for equipment. According to an industry survey, nurses spend more than 10% of their working hours looking for hidden or misplaced equipment. Misplaced equipment also increases the cost of care, as the underutilization of equipment is registered as a loss. Hospital equipment is used by multiple departments, and when busy, staff may not return the equipment to the place where it is supposed to be stored. IoT-based solutions can help track this equipment to make it easier to find and also notify staff if it is out of place and needs to be put back in its rightful spot.

    Reduce Staff Fatigue and Improve Patient Care

    Repetitive tasks such as data entry add to the level of fatigue that the hospital staff experiences and could affect decision-making. Also, staff fatigue is related to burnout, leading to high turnover. The IoT can automate data entry similar to the way in which it automates repetitive tasks in manufacturing, thereby reducing workers’ tedium and fatigue. In some hospitals, after patients’ vital signs have been measured, not only will the information be entered into a local device automatically, it will also be transmitted to the centralized server whereupon caretakers can then access this information remotely.

    What Does a Smart Car Look Like?

    Most traffic accidents occur when the drivers are distracted by their phones, drowsy, under the influence, speeding, or not wearing seatbelts. Also, more accidents happen at night or under unfavorable road conditions such as storms and rain. Moreover, accidents are caused by other drivers’ incorrect or erratic behavior, such as sudden braking, lane switching, or speeding.

    Detecting the Driver’s Condition

    The AI component of the IoT can help analyze a driver’s condition, such as his or her state of alertness or the alcohol level in the driver’s breath. If the driver is under the influence or too tired to drive, the IoT system can make a decision and direct the car to pull over to the side of the road.

    V2V Communication

    The IoT can also connect all the cars on the road with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication and enable the cars to manage their respective movements better. For example, if there are accidents or slowdowns ahead, all the cars from behind are notified to slow down accordingly to avoid rear-end crashes without actually knowing that there are accidents ahead.

    Speed Adjustment to Avoid Accidents

    Cars will be able to rely on the IoT to “talk” to the road and traffic lights to gather the data necessary to inform vehicles when to slow down or accelerate to help lead to the least amount of wear and tear. The IoT’s AI component will also help the car identify obstacles and brake for pedestrians or animals that suddenly rush onto the road. This vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication protocol, as it’s now being referred to, will most likely come after V2V.

    The Smart Future

    The IoT will affect many aspects of our lives directly and make them more enjoyable. It will also indirectly improve the quality of our lives. For example, thanks to the IoT, we can expect to see increased efficiency of renewable energy generation, an acceleration of progress as it relates to medical research, and improvements to agricultural production that are more efficient and less wasteful. Indeed, as the IoT continues to grow, there will be many lessons learned that can apply to many new sectors.

    ELE Times Bureau
    ELE Times Bureau
    ELE Times provides a comprehensive global coverage of Electronics, Technology and the Market. In addition to providing in depth articles, ELE Times attracts the industry’s largest, qualified and highly engaged audiences, who appreciate our timely, relevant content and popular formats. ELE Times helps you build awareness, drive traffic, communicate your offerings to right audience, generate leads and sell your products better.

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