The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network connecting the world of tangibles to that of the intangibles, that is, a network of physical objects connected to the software cloud. Basically, Internet of Things (IoT) means making the everyday objects ‘smart.’ It involves the installation of sensors and controllers in the devices, allowing them to stay connected, communicate, and share data over a network. The interesting catch here is that any device that can generate data falls under the umbrella of ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), including smart homes, drones, wearable devices, smart vehicles, health monitoring devices, and a range of sensors.
A range of IoT devices can be connected over a network and have data pouring in from all directions. Smartwatches send data about workout activities, while smart thermostats send data on temperature fluctuations, and smart switches send electricity usage data. That sure is a lot of data.
But how do we make sense of all this data to obtain valuable insights about customer’s health, home, and electricity consumption? That’s where data mining comes to the rescue. If you look at the whole data, it might appear as junk. However, hidden patterns can be traced and extracted by leveraging smart data mining algorithms to collect and inspect the data to provide useful analytics.
The data obtained from IoT undergoes several steps before any useful information can be derived from it. The data preparation stage involves the integration of data from various data sources and cleaning the data. On the other hand, the data mining stage is one where algorithms are applied to find and evaluate the patterns from the data. The final stage is the data presentation stage where the data is presented to the user to obtain useful insights.
However, the process of big data mining from IoT comes with its own set of challenges such as disparate datasets, large volumes of data, and the integrity of data sources. With the increasing popularity of IoT, new solutions and data mining algorithms are being developed to tackle such problems.
According to a study by Gartner, the number of devices connected through IoT already outnumbers the current world population and by 2020, it is estimated to reach up to 20 billion. The growing number of connected devices simply indicates growing business opportunities for IoT companies.
In 2015, CES was held at Las Vegas, and it witnessed some of the leading tech companies, including Intel, Samsung, and Firefox, announce their plans to venture into the IoT ecosystem. It’s 2018 and where exactly are these tech giants today in the IoT sector?
With a range of smart devices, including the Echo smart speakers, Amazon was one of the very first tech giants in the IoT space. Apart from its ventures into artificial intelligence applications and cloud services, namely the Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon is also the world’s biggest online marketplace. This is where Amazon ingeniously integrated IoT with its autonomous robot-equipped warehouse to boost efficiency and transform its operations and logistics. Relentless in their mission to use IoT to not only boost business but simultaneously improve customer experience, Amazon has opened its checkout-free Amazon Go convenience store.
Another product similar to Amazon’s Echo smart speakers is Google’s very own smart assistant – Google Home. The functionalities of these smart assistants are usually similar and revolve around playing music, providing answers from the web, controlling lights in a room, and so on. Google also owns Nest, the maker of a range of connected devices, including smart thermostat and security systems.
Google’s R&D is heavily invested in their driverless cars. This involves dealing with a wide range of sensors, machine learning algorithms, and artificial intelligence applications — all of which are fragments of the larger IoT picture. Google also recently announced a chip to be integrated with the IoT devices that can directly mine data before transmission to the cloud.
With the smartphone revolution, app developers needed a platform like iOS and Android created by Apple and Google. Similarly, in the case of IoT, these tech giants have been expected to set the protocols, infrastructure, and an established framework for the future development of IoT. Microsoft’s Azure platform is at the heart of providing an underlying framework for connecting a range of sensors from connected cars, smart cities, healthcare organizations, and industrial warehouses. The company offers an expansive suite of software developer tools for IoT. While others are focused on providing an absolute IoT experience to the end users, Microsoft’s IoT development services pay attention to what lies behind the scenes for seamless integration of sensors and data.
Another example of IoT development service is IBM using IoT in the retail space. IBM Real Estate Strategy & Operations (RESO) manages the global IBM real estate portfolio, which includes 1,400 locations and 82 million square feet in over 150 countries. Vast amounts of data are collected from the buildings. IBM Watson, with its advanced analytics, AI capabilities, and machine learning algorithms, is also involved in data mining to help provide crucial insights.
Companies like SAP with their product line provide real-time insights to their customers from the data collected by the sensors. Leonardo is a stand-alone IoT platform that collects and utilizes sensor data.
Several other tech giants, including Apple, Intel, Cisco, Facebook, Adobe, and IBM, are also operating in the IoT space.
Since the time the term ‘Internet of Things’ was first coined in 1999, IoT has come a long way. IoT devices and applications are spread across various industries ranging from retail and manufacturing to mining, agriculture, healthcare, and energy. The widespread scope of IoT increases the demand for technology-driven solutions that work with IoT devices. And as more and more IoT companies focus on embracing the ubiquity of IoT, this sure is the ‘next big thing’ in the technology industry after the smartphone era.