IoT (Internet of Things) is nothing else than learning from the human and the nature around us in order to replicate a similar sensing/analyzing/reacting framework while aiming to get it even more under control.
The human body as an example is just an inspirational amazing network of interconnected sensors linked to many different cells, organs or muscles, which are reacting to the various signals received by the sensors based on either years of learnings or native automatic connections.
Today’s major digitalization trends and IoT in particular are just trying to replicate that model through technologies by building many sensors and connecting them together like our senses and nerve system are connected with our different part of the body. Digital Health is of course the obvious example of mimicking the human body but many other examples even in the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) are doing the same. Measuring the real-time ongoing power consumption of a drilling machine in order to adapt its required speed based on the size of the hole and the nature of the material where the hole has to be drilled is nothing else than what is done with a sport athlete who is getting prepared for his next competition. Additionally the collected data could be used to maintain the machine and anticipate potential expensive breakdowns through addition of some Artificial Intelligence (AI) collected from the manufacturer and all the similar connected machines. This is improved preventive maintenance the same way as it could be done for patients providing ongoing basic health data to their doctor instead of waiting for their next regular complete health check-up every 6 months or more.
The human system is just an example which it itself would still inspire many future IoT and IIoT opportunities but our mind should not just be limited to that. Many other examples in the animal life and nature around us would be other infinite inspiration sources for IoT and IIoT to improve our daily experiences at home and at work. A simple flower who is opening when the sun is coming up and closing when it becomes dark is another inspirational example of simple IoT solutions, which are already in use since many years around the world at work and at home based on daylight sensors.
One of the main challenges of IoT would be to develop tons of new reliable sensors and connections while developing new learning patterns. Managing and analyzing the tremendously increasing amount of new data provided by those new connected sensors while adding AI (Artificial Intelligence) would open a completely new world to all of us in our daily life in a more or less short term horizon.
Another key IIoT challenge and which is not so trivial would be how to connect older equipment and technology which are still quite common and in use in a classical manufacturing environment. Building new manufacturing facilities based on the new available technologies is a different challenge than upgrading older facilities to that new technology standard and capabilities especially under today’s cost challenges and expensive manufacturing equipment and production lines. Small flexible and adaptable microchips or devices, which could be easily added to older equipment in order to kind of upgrading its technology without having to completely change and replace bigger expensive machines/devices exists already but need to be further developed and adapted.
That leads inevitably to the final overarching challenge on top of developing all those new connected microchips, sensors and solutions which would be to address its accessibility to everybody mainly from a costs point of view in order to address equally poorer and maybe be even more in need population. Thus, while keeping in mind that half of the people around the globe still do not have access to internet yet (as of June 2017 only 51% of the world’s population had access to the internet).
Philippe Gerwill is an executive leader and visionary with strong focus on IT Strategy, new technologies and Innovations.
He is a worldwide recognized speaker at events not only in Europe as he is living in France and working in Switzerland since many years but also in other continents and especially in Asia where he acquainted quite some experience and expertise on the ground as well.