The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the billions of interconnected physical ‘devices’ or ‘things’ all around us, exchanging data and communicating between each other over the internet – with numerous examples from sectors including retail, healthcare, agriculture, and industrial.

Advancements in digital technologies and the increasing pervasiveness of wireless networks have made it possible to turn almost anything, in the real world, into an IoT device for use in daily life.

Examples of IoT can be seen everywhere – from smart light bulbs at home, to automated robotic arms on the factory floor – or – from a tiny pill that tracks when medication is taken, to a smart city spanning hundreds of square miles. Today, IoT is woven into the very fabric of the world we live in.

Objects all around us are being embedded with sensors, software, and networking technologies, enabling them to exchange data and communicate with each other, without human intervention.

In this article, we explore the latest examples of Internet of Things (IoT) implementations and discuss how this new paradigm is transforming businesses and adding value to customers.

What are the Most Common Examples of the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT may be a breakthrough of the 21st century, but its origins can be traced back to the early 1980s.

In 1982, tired of making empty runs to the Coke vending machine, graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University’s computer science department connected the machine to the Internet. Specifically, they coded an application which would relay how many bottles were left in the machine, as well as the temperature of those bottles. Unbeknownst to them, they had created the world’s first IoT device.

In 2022, the most common examples of the Internet of Things (IoT) are wearable health monitors, connected home appliances, home security systems, autonomous farm equipment, smart factory solutions, and logistics tracking technologies.

In fact, we are already using a number of IoT devices on a daily basis. From fitness trackers, to voice controlled home devices like Amazon Alexa, to the connected cars we drive – IoT is making our lives more convenient and productive.

READ MORE: Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT – Connecting Devices

According to recent estimates by technology analyst IDC, there will be 55.7 billion connected IoT devices by 2025, generating almost 80 zettabytes of data. While Ericsson’s Mobility Report forecasts around 29 billion connected devices by 2022, out of which around 18 billion will be related to IoT.

Comparison of Forecasts for Connected IoT Devices in 2022
ForecastConnected IoT Devices in 2022
Cisco14.6 billion
Ericsson18.0 billion
Gartner14.0 billion
IoT Analytics Research14.4 billion
Statista13.1 billion

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, previously predicted the dramatic rise of IoT devices during a panel at the World Economic Forum back in 2015. Particularly, he stated:

“The Internet will disappear. There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time”.

Statista predicts that overall worldwide IoT spending will exceed $1 trillion in 2022, with discrete manufacturing alone accounting for investments of almost $120 billion. Additionally, process manufacturing ($78 billion), transportation ($71 billion), and utilities ($61 billion) were the other industries expected to be at the top of global IoT spends.

Consumer IoT spending is forecasted to exceed $108 billion, with smart home, personal wellness, and connected car entertainment accounting for the bulk of these expenditures. Finally, cybersecurity has also emerged as a major concern with IoT devices, as critical vulnerabilities have increased 170% year-over-year, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Consumer Internet of Things (IoT) – Examples at Home and in Retail

It is difficult to overstate how comprehensively IoT has become a part of everyday life. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, U.S. households now have on average a total of 22 connected devices.

Owing to benefits such as increased comfort, convenience, safety, and efficiency, the adoption of consumer IoT devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, intelligent thermostats, voice-controlled devices, home security systems, and smart bulbs have more than doubled in the last five years.

Google Nest is one of the most popular consumer IoT solutions available. The product line includes several smart devices, such as learning thermostats, security cameras, door bells, smoke alarms, streaming devices, and speakers, to help people better manage their homes. All of these devices can be easily monitored and managed from a smartphone or a Nest Hub.

Still, it is not just people who can enjoy the benefits of IoT, as even animals are now connected to and interacting with these new devices. To this end, the global IoT pet care market was estimated to be worth $5.6 billion in 2021, with nearly 300,000 pets wearing IoT tracking devices. These solutions come in the form of IoT-powered collars, tags, and smart feeders, which allow owners to observe, monitor, track activity, and even play games with their pets.

READ MORE: Internet of Things (IoT) Devices – What’s Smart in 2022?

How is IoT Impacting the Retail Industry?

The retail industry was among the first to embrace the ‘smart’ revolution. For example, Amazon’s cashless and cashierless convenience stores, known as Amazon Go, are a prime example of the Internet of Things’ potential to transform the way consumers shop. With the help of computer vision, deep learning algorithms, sensor fusion, and a whole lot of cameras, Amazon created an advanced shopping experience where customers can just walk in, pick up what they need, and walk out.

Overall, this ‘automated checkout’ retail IoT solution is becoming increasingly commonplace. Indeed, McKinsey estimates that automated checkout can reduce staffing requirements in retail by up to 75%, resulting in savings of $150 billion to $380 billion a year in 2025.

Healthcare – Examples of How IoT is Used

There was a time when doctor-patient interaction was limited to in-person visits and telephone calls. Outside of hospitalization, it was not possible for healthcare providers to monitor and provide treatment according to a patient’s fluctuating health conditions. However, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) has radically changed this outlook.

IoT technologies such as remote patient monitoring sensors reduce the need for time- and cost-intensive hospital visits, which, in turn, lower healthcare costs, accelerate treatments, and help doctors make life-saving diagnoses.

The current pace of innovation and adoption is reflected in the IoMT market, which is estimated to be worth $158 billion in 2022, up from $41 billion in 2017. Furthermore, in 5 years time, the % of connected medical devices is expected to rise from 48% to 68%, as shown below:

% of Connected Medical Devices – Today and in 5 Years
Connected IoT Medical Devices Today and in 5 Years Examples
Source: Deloitte.

IoT’s most significant impact on the healthcare industry is perhaps the creation of electronic health records (EHRs). Instead of several systems in different hospitals holding multiple patient records, EHRs are stored in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere. In fact, EHRs have reached 98% penetration in U.S. hospitals.

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is another IoT technology making a dramatic impact on patient care. Leveraging the power of connected medical devices with IoT sensors, doctors can now receive a continuous stream of real-time data on parameters like heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, and body temperature. This is proving to be extremely useful in chronic disease management and post-hospitalization care.

Even the hospital beds are getting smarter. For example, NHS test beds used in the UK’s healthcare system include sensors and monitors that can track a patient’s vital signs and inform physicians about their conditions.

Additionally, smart medication dispensers are a widely used example of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare, especially in home care for the elderly. These appliances send out alerts, dispense prescribed pills, and allow all stakeholders to track the intake of medication.

Security Devices – Examples of How IoT is Used

IoT-enabled devices are being rapidly deployed to greatly improve traditional security systems or replace them altogether.

Common examples of IoT security devices include smart locks and surveillance cameras for homes. At an enterprise-level, these devices include a variety of sensors that are useful in inventory tracking and asset monitoring.

The IoT security market is predicted to grow from $14.9 billion in 2021 to $40.3 billion in 2026, as the industry continues to protect against widespread and more frequent vulnerabilities.

READ MORE: Internet of Things (IoT) Security – Next-Generation Protection

Smart home security solutions leverage IoT-enabled devices to allow people to remotely monitor and manage the security of their homes. These include smart doorbells, smart locks, smart cameras, smart thermostats, and smart smoke alarms.

Electronic ankle tags used by law enforcement departments, which ensure individuals adhere to their probation or bail conditions, have also become sophisticated with IoT. Currently, offender trackers come with advanced sensors and geofencing capabilities to notify authorities if and when there is a breach.

A common security concern in manufacturing industries is the loss of inventory due to internal and external theft. With so many moving parts in modern supply chains, inventory visibility at all times is paramount.

IoT-based inventory tracking allows businesses to monitor the real-time location, condition, utilization, and chain of custody for products around the world and rapidly respond in situations where theft or misuse has occurred.

Fleet Management – Examples of How IoT is Used

Fleet vehicles are a key component of urban mobility today, especially as application-based ride hailing becomes a global phenomenon with companies like Uber, Lyft, and Grab.

IoT devices have greatly simplified fleet management, especially vehicle tracking, maintenance, driver operation, and cargo movement. Also called IoT-enabled telematics, these systems capture data on vehicle performance, route, and passengers, which is useful to improve business and sustainability.

One of the most significant contributions of IoT in fleet management has been to reduce fuel costs and idle time, which according to a recent study costs the industry $3 billion globally every year.

Intel and viso.ai have co-created a solution for asset security and vehicle operation using deep learning with visual representations. Leveraging 360-degree cameras and sensors, this solution helps fleet vehicles avoid accidents and theft.

Idle time and unscheduled maintenance can be extremely costly to fleet owners, with industry estimates pegging the average cost of downtime at $448 to $760 per day, per vehicle. IoT telematics solutions help fleet managers address these issues ahead of time, by detecting when the vehicle is in need of an oil change, battery replacement, or tire change.

Managers can also increase efficiency through improved cargo utilization. Lineas, the largest private rail freight operator in Europe, used Bosch’s fleet management solutions to increase capacity utilization by over 40%.

As connected cars inch closer to becoming a reality on the road, the same IoT-based technologies are finding use cases in railway transport as well. One example of this is the GE Evolution Series Tier 4 Heavy-Haul diesel locomotive, which has 250 sensors that can measure over 150,000 data points per minute.

Agriculture – Examples of How IoT is Used

Farming and the broader practice of agriculture are set to become more important than ever in future decades, with IoT playing a fundamental role. The United Nations predicts that the global population will hit 9.7 billion by 2050 and to meet demands, agricultural production will need to increase by 69% during that time.

Meanwhile, shrinking agricultural land and a declining workforce have left few options available for farmers to increase their yields. Thankfully, smart agriculture is helping to tackle these problems.

IoT technologies in agriculture take many forms such as weather forecasting, drones, precision farming, automated irrigation systems, smart greenhouses, and predictive analytics.

READ MORE: Internet of Things (IoT) Analytics – Understanding Data

Climate monitoring IoT devices combine data from farm sensors and weather stations to remove ‘guess work’ from assessing changes in climate conditions for farmers. As shown below, IoT devices are able to measure the % change in a farmer’s crop yields due to climate change:

% Change in Crop Yield Due to Climate Change
Agriculture Internet of Things Change in Crop Yield Due to Climate Change
Source: FutureLearn.

Cloud-based software such as CropX enables farmers to make data-driven decisions on their land. Known as precision agriculture, farmers can collect a vast array of information to make educated decisions on managing soil composition, lighting, temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, and pest infections.

Smart irrigation systems like Soil Scout are helping farmers optimize water usage in their fields by constantly measuring soil moisture levels. These technologies are especially crucial for growing difficult crops, as illustrated in this linked example of kiwifruit being grown in Italy.

Drones have become an invaluable tool for farmers to survey their land, perform field analysis, and gather real-time information. They are also used for planting seeds and can spray fertilizer up to 40 to 60 times faster than doing so by hand.

Manufacturing – Examples of the Industrial Internet of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is revolutionizing the manufacturing process for companies and the way they distribute their products. Through a combination of sensors, computers, and networks, companies are able to deploy smart machines and tools on the factory floor, leading to improved efficiencies and reduced costs.

READ MORE: How the Industrial Internet of Things is Transforming Business

The most prominent examples of Industrial Internet of Things devices in manufacturing are in automation, remote monitoring, supply chain optimization, digital twins, and predictive maintenance.

According to IndustryARC, the global market size for IIoT is estimated to be $187 billion in 2022, the highest among all industries deploying IoT devices.

Tesla’s smart factory is a notable example of how Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies, robots, and workers come together on the factory floor to create the world’s most advanced cars. Indeed, every vehicle that rolls out of a Tesla factory is first tested using a digital twin. Data from thousands of Tesla vehicles on the road are used to run each car’s simulation in the factory. Artificial intelligence interprets data from the digital twin to determine if the car is working as intended.

Utility providers in several ‘smart cities’ around the world are using smart meters to track energy usage of homes, allowing companies to predict demand, identify outages, and conduct preventive maintenance. By using smart meters, utility companies are expected to save $157 billion by 2035.

When it comes to the smart city revolution, Singapore is leading the way globally, with its much-touted smart city initiatives. Through its Smart Nation project, a staggering 94% of the country’s government services have been made digital from end-to-end.

READ MORE: 5G Use Cases in 10 Different Industries

Adam Simmons covers Towers for Dgtl Infra, including American Tower (NYSE: AMT), Crown Castle (NYSE: CCI), SBA Communications (NASDAQ: SBAC), Cellnex Telecom (BME: CLNX), Vantage Towers (ETR: VTWR), IHS Holding (NYSE: IHS), and many more. Within Towers, Adam focuses on the sub-sectors of ground-based cell towers, rooftop sites, broadcast / radio towers, and 5G. Adam has over 7 years of experience in research and writing for Towers.

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