IoT: Are we really making the best of it?

While the concept has been around for many years, the extent by which the vision has been realised, is debatable.

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IoT: Are we really making the best of it? Alexander Sophoclis Pieri, Editor, Arabian Computer News.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  July 10, 2016

I’d like begin by first welcoming everyone to the latest issue of ACN, and as it’s my inaugural editor’s letter, I’d also like to take this opportunity to introduce myself, Alexander Sophoclis Pieri, as the new editor for Arabian computer news.

This month, I’d like to delve into the topic of the Internet-of-Things (IoT). While the concept has been around for many years, the extent by which the vision has been realised, is debatable. We live in an era where at any given moment, the surrounding digital environment comprises of numerous connected devices, whether a private residence or crowded workspace.

Despite the illusion of multiple devices connected together however, it is often the case that these systems are in fact not ‘connected’. Though they operate within the same digital ecosystem, the various connections, whether a smartphone, security camera, or a building’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC), are simply not interacting with each other. Equally as important, the data generated by these systems through daily usage is simply going to waste.

Take for example a situation where you have a highly advanced office structure that has been embedded with numerous sensors and an automated building management system (BMS). We already have environmental control systems, which includes lighting that activates or deactivates depending on whether it detects someone in the room.

Taking it a step further however, consider if the system was capable of identifying the person it detected, either with security cameras equipped with facial recognition, or RFID-tags embedded in the person’s clothing.

This can open up new possibilities in how the system should then react to that person. From a security standpoint, the BMS would consider who the person is, whether they have access or access at a specific time of the day, or even whether a security officer or a supervisor needs to be alerted on their respective mobile device.

On the other hand, the BMS might react to the individual in a more personalised way. When a manager arrives at work and the building detects them, the system can fire up the environmental controls in their offices to their preferred settings. The BMS may also assign a lift specifically for the executive, and even alert the pantry staff to prepare their favourite coffee.

Once devices begin to truly communicate, the data produced from their interactions with the end-user will prove to be a valued resource for organisations. Companies would be able to utilise collated information to devise strategies for optimising business processes, the research and development of future products, as well as implementing improvements towards end-user interaction.

A direct and constant connection with customers would allow businesses to monitor how their products are utilised, implementing upgrades to existing modules, or introducing wholly novel ones, as the need arises. Similarly, as flaws are also revealed through usage, hotfixes and patches can be deployed to address technical issues. Companies would also enable businesses to customise their offerings based on the individual’s personal preference.

IoT will not only affect how end-users interact with their surrounding environment, but it will dramatically impact how businesses view and target their respective customer base.

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