The article was updated on October 01, 2020.
35 billion IoT devices will be installed worldwide by 2021.
IoT market was valued at $193.60 billion in 2019.
$13 trillion in ROI generated by 2025.
The predictions voiced by IDC make it pretty clear: the Internet of Things will take off really soon. In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, businesses across a number of domains are already investing heavily in IoT initiatives.
Indeed, there is a huge potential in connected devices and the capabilities they provide. That is why keen business owners are looking for new ways to capitalize on this opportunity. And there is no industry that will remain untouched by the IoT.
In this article we will further explore the current use cases for the Internet of Things applications across industries and share our firsthand experience building successful products in this sphere.
Businesses are traditionally the first to adopt new technologies. In addition to providing a competitive advantage, innovations can have a great impact on your bottom line. Namely, the proper use of IoT technologies can reduce the overall operating costs, help you increase your business efficiency, and create additional revenue streams through new markets and products.
The following IoT examples used across the major industries further prove the point.
1. Retail and supply chain management
This industry was probably among the first to be made “smart”. Take for example proximity-based advertising with Beacons and smart inventory management technologies used at Amazon Go no checkout store.
However, the use of IoT devices and apps in retail isn’t limited to shopping and supply chain management. It’s an opportunity for restaurants, hospitality providers, and other businesses to manage their supplies and gather valuable insights.
This might give retailers full control over their supply chains, eliminating the human factor. This will allow business owners to avoid over-ordering, effectively restrict staff members who abuse their privileges, as well as better manage the logistical and merchandising expenses. The listed benefits, in turn, result in high adoption rates for all IoT products in retail.
QueueHop is another example of an innovative inventory tracking and theft prevention IoT solution. Smart tags attached to the items on sale unclip automatically only after the payment is made.
The system speeds up the checkout process by offering mobile self-service capabilities and allows business owners to manage their inventory in real time.
As a result, this technology has the potential of disrupting the whole shopping process, by allowing business owners to reallocate resources for better efficiency and improved customer service.
Internet of Things benefits in retail and supply chain management:
- improved transparency of the supply chain;
- automated goods check-in and check-out;
- monitoring goods location, and warehouse storage conditions;
- predictive maintenance of equipment;
- managing inventory and preventing theft;
- improving the shopping experience and customer service;
- pinpointing and timely notifications about any issues during transportation;
- warehouse demand-alert; and
- route optimization.
2. Home automation
It is impossible to ignore the impact that IoT technologies have had on our homes. Smart appliances, lighting, security, and environment controls make our life easier and more convenient. Nest is among the leaders in this sphere. With a number of smart devices, including Nest Thermostat, indoor cameras, and alarms, the company helps you better manage your home.
The thermostat learns about your preferences and automatically adjusts the temperature. In addition to a comfortable environment at home, it will help you save on heating and use your energy more efficiently. Nest Indoor and Outdoor Cameras together with smoke and CO alarms make your home a safer place.
The best part about Nest smart home products is the fact that you can monitor and manage all of these devices with your smartphone using a dedicated app.
The company also offers various partnership and cooperation models, providing full documentation and API access to independent developers and businesses. Thus, you can build on the success of the Nest products and introduce new revenue channels for your own business.
Benefits of IoT in home automation:
- smart energy management and control,
- centralized management of all home devices,
- predictive maintenance and remote functionality of appliances,
- enhanced comfort and security,
- remote control of home appliances, and
- insights and analytics on smart home management.
Multiple wearables that flooded the IoT market recently can all be roughly classified as health and fitness devices. Apple, Samsung, Jawbone, and Misfit wearables all represent this area of IoT use.
Such devices monitor heart rate, caloric intake, sleep, track activity, and many other metrics to help us stay healthy. In some cases, such wearables can communicate with third-party apps and share information about the user’s chronic conditions with a healthcare provider.
In addition to the personal use of health wearables, there are some advanced smart appliances, including scales, thermometers, blood pressure monitors, and even hair brushes.
Smart medication dispensers, such as HERO, are widely used for home treatment and elderly care. The appliance allows you to load the prescribed pills and monitor the intake.
The mobile app paired with the device sends timely alerts to the family members or caregivers to inform them when the medicine is taken or skipped. It also provides useful data on the medication intake and sends notifications when your medication is running low.
A huge number of projects developed by both leading tech powerhouses and startups, clearly indicate the demand for IoT solutions in the health & fitness domain.
Benefits of IoT wearables:
- remote diagnostics and health monitoring,
- advanced personal care options for patients,
- early disease detection and prevention, and
- data-driven approach to fitness and personal care.
We at Eastern Peak are currently working on a related project with the focus on women’s health. Modern technologies used to collect and analyze the data from the IoT devices allow us to process the required measurements and identify the current ovulation state with the highest possible accuracy. The device and the applications, both web and mobile, are being built completely by our team.
Loaded with smart sensors, our cars are becoming increasingly connected. While most of such solutions are provided out of the box by car manufacturers (Take Tesla for example), there is a third-party solution to make your car “smart”. One of such solutions, Cobra Code – remote control and monitoring of your car, was built by Eastern Peak.
The mobile application connects to a connected device, which allows you to control such functions of your car as opening/closing the doors, engine metrics, the alarm system, detecting the car’s location and routes, etc.
While connected or even self-driven cars have already become a reality, automotive IoT use cases are actively expanding to other types of ground transport, including railway transport.
An example of such an initiative is represented by the latest GE Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive, loaded with 250 sensors measuring over 150,000 data points per minute. Thus, your car can be controlled directly from your mobile phone with information from your routes and car stats which are stored safely in the cloud.
IoT benefits in automotive:
- improving and streamlining car manufacturing processes,
- remote vehicle monitoring and control,
- smart road infrastructure for drivers,
- monitoring drivers’ conditions,
- smart car insurance,
- car and smartphone integration, and
- preventive vehicle maintenance.
Smart farming is often overlooked when it comes to the business cases for IoT solutions. However, there are many innovative products on the market geared toward forward-thinking farmers.
Some of them use a distributed network of smart sensors to monitor various natural conditions, such as humidity, air temperature, and soil quality. Others are used to automate irrigation systems.
One such example of IoT devices, Blossom, offers both. This smart watering system uses real-time weather data and forecasts to create an optimal watering schedule for your yard.
Consisting of a smart Bluetooth-powered controller and a mobile app, the system is easy to install, setup, and manage. While the product is initially designed for use at home, similar solutions can also be applied to larger scales.
Internet of Things benefits in agriculture:
- crop, climate, and soil condition monitoring;
- livestock monitoring;
- precision farming;
- watering and fertilization automation;
- automating detection and eradication of pests;
- greenhouse automation; and
- higher crop quality and better yields.
Freight, fleet management, and shipping represent another promising area of use for IoT. With smart BLE tags attached to the parcels and items being transported, you can track their location, speed, and even transportation or storage conditions.
This is one of the use cases for an innovative IoT platform by thethings.iO.
The company’s smart sensors, Cold Chain and Location Trackers, paired with a powerful cloud-based dashboard provide reliable, real-time monitoring of the temperature and location for their logistics.
IoT benefits in logistics:
- remote vehicle tracking and fleet management;
- monitoring cargo conditions;
- improved last-mile deliveries;
- monitoring driver activity;
- detecting exact vehicle locations; and
- advanced routing capabilities.
IoT is playing a major part in the digitization of healthcare helping improve both clinics’ operations and patients’ outcomes.
End-to-end clinical management suites like RTLS by CENTRACK are some of the most vivid examples of the use of IoT in the healthcare industry. RTLS places smart sensors to track every aspect of patient care and clinical operations from asset management and regulatory compliance to staff satisfaction and the quality of patient care. By collecting real-time data, clinics can monitor the state of medical equipment and avoid breakdowns by scheduling timely repairs.
NHS test beds used in the UK’s national healthcare system are packed with sensors and use video monitors to track patients’ data in order to notify physicians about their immediate conditions. IoT systems like QUIO also monitor drug intake and help patients with chronic conditions adhere to their personalized treatment plans.
IoT benefits in healthcare:
- saving wait time and cutting expenses,
- early diagnostics and disease prevention,
- improved functionality of healthcare devices,
- reduced hospital readmission rate,
- improved patient care, and
- enhanced efficiency of clinic processes.
8. Industrial business
Industrial IoT solutions are disrupting business domains like manufacturing, warehousing, energy, and mining. Successful examples of IoT solutions for manufacturing include the equipment-maker Caterpillar: using a combination of IoT and AR to give workers a comprehensive view of equipment conditions, from fuel levels to parts that need replacement.
In the energy sector, IoT systems like TankClarity use sensors to alert companies when their clients are running out of oil and gas. In smart warehousing, IoT helps monitor the state of merchandise, ensure immediate goods check-in and check-out, and streamline daily operations. In industrial mining, companies increasingly use IoT solutions like WellAware to monitor the state of pipes and mining equipment, avoid disruptions, and ensure employee safety.
Benefits of IoT in industrial business:
- improving employee safety;
- increasing operational efficiency;
- avoiding equipment failure and scheduling repairs;
- improving time-to-value; and
- reducing operational expenses.
9. Smart cities
IoT has all it takes to improve the quality of urban life and the experience of its city dwellers. Increasingly, smart cities across the world use IoT to resolve issues with traffic and transportation, energy and waste management, etc.
Platforms like Digi Remote Manager help smart cities become more energy-efficient. The solution also enables them to control surveillance cameras, wi-fi coverage, electronic billboards, and other mission-critical devices like environmental sensors and charging stations.
Some of the most prevalent examples of internet of things applications for smart cities include tracking, routing, and fleet management solutions for public vehicles, such as Fleetio. The IoT sensors help detect the exact location of a vehicle, monitor drivers’ actions as well as vehicle conditions and the state of the core systems.
Smart cities also use IoT for infrastructure management: controlling the state of water supply and sewer systems, street lighting, waste reduction, garbage collection, etc.
Internet of Things benefits for smart cities:
- enhanced energy-efficiency;
- improved traffic management;
- reducing pollution and waste;
- eliminating crime and increasing safety;
- better infrastructure management; and
- improving the quality of life of its citizens.
10. Smart buildings
IoT is also gradually transforming real estate: smart buildings are the examples of how Internet of Things applications are taking our quality of life to an entirely new level.
IoT helps track the state of assets of the entire building and deliver metrics that help indicate its overall condition. By monitoring the state of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, building administrators can ensure optimal maintenance and schedule timely repairs.
Tracking energy efficiency by providing real-time access to water and electricity meters is another indisputable advantage of using IoT in smart buildings. Another example of Internet of Things applications in smart buildings are systems like ZATA, used for measuring and controlling air quality.
IoT benefits for smart buildings:
- tracking the state of core building assets,
- energy consumption monitoring,
- controlling air quality,
- collecting data for smart building analytics systems, and
- Improving the experience of its tenants.
As we can see from the IoT examples listed above, every solution in this sphere typically consists of two components:
- Hardware – usually a Bluetooth low energy sensor connected to the Internet. It can be a third party device (like Beacons) or a custom-built product (like the ones mentioned above). In some cases even the user’s smartphone can be used as a hardware component of an IoT solution.
- Software – the underlying cloud infrastructure and mobile app/web dashboard. This part allows you to control your IoT hardware, manage the IoT data collection, and access the information sourced by your sensors.
While the hardware part is usually more difficult to implement, the software aspect of your IoT project also deserves your attention.
It can pose a number of challenges you need to consider in advance. Those include security and privacy concerns, connectivity issues, compatibility, data collection and processing.
Read more about major challenges posed by IoT, and become inspired by some of the IoT ideas for business in our recent article – Connecting the World: IoT Ideas for Business
How to get started?
The product discovery phase is the best first step you can take to lay a solid foundation for the development of your app. It includes a functional specification, UX/UI design, and a visual prototype that will give you a clear vision of the end product. On average, this phase takes 4-6 weeks.
The product discovery phase can help you:
- define a full scope of work and develop a roadmap for the project
- set a realistic budget for your MVP and plan your resources
- test the waters with your audience using a visual prototype
- craft a convincing investment pitch
- get to know your team
In order to build a reliable and powerful IoT product, you need to get a professional technology consulting team on board. We at Eastern Peak are helping businesses and startups bring their IoT ideas to life. Thanks to our vast experience in this field, we can help you safely navigate possible pitfalls and tackle arising challenges with ease.
Contact us now to book a free consultation with our IoT experts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Internet of Things and how it works?
The Internet of Things refers to the assembly of electronic devices (“things”) connected via the internet for data exchange. IoT uses sensors or controllers to collect data, coupled with analytics software to process it for actionable insights.
IoT uses protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G/5G, NFC and ZigBee for data transmission.
What are the benefits of IoT?
IoT provides real-time insights into the state of ‘things’ and enables users to take timely action based on this data. Benefits of IoT for businesses include:
- increasing operational efficiency;
- reducing expenses;
- improving workplace safety;
- boosting customer satisfaction;
- increasing revenue; and
- accelerating time-to-value.
How is IoT used in business?
IoT captures and analyzes data on business-critical processes, company assets and equipment, customer behavior, employee wellbeing and security. This data is then used by companies to improve business outcomes.
How to start a business with IoT?
Starting an IoT business involves 7 logical steps:
- Identify a problem that you want to address with your solution.
- Choose an optimal IoT platform.
- Build an MVP.
- Test market acceptance and gain stakeholders’ approval.
- Create an IoT solution.
- Promote your IoT product.
- Ensure 24/7 support and maintenance.
Many businesses prefer to build in-house IoT platforms integrating sensors, gateway devices, communication networks, data analytics software and application interfaces. If pre-build options are not for you, partner with a reliable developer to build your custom IoT platform.