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On IoT Day, Let's Look at Five Surprising Uses of IoT


By Suresh Madhavan, Senior Director, Business Development and Partnerships at MachineQ, a Comcast company

It's that time of year - World IoT Day is April 9. It's a day to bring together the IoT community, celebrate the advancements of IoT, and continue the discussion on the technology's potential and its future. The world's first IoT device dates back to the early 1980's, when students at Carnegie Mellon University created a way to get a vending machine to report on its contents through a network, including how many cans were available and if they were cold.

Over the past 40+ years, we have seen IoT spread to many areas within industrial and commercial markets, with applications ranging from asset management, environmental monitoring, food safety and compliance, predictive maintenance, smart buildings, smart cities and more. Some of the top industries using IoT include manufacturing, transportation, energy, retail, healthcare, construction, and foodservices, but the list could go on and on. Even at the consumer level, smart home devices with voice controllers can operate light switches, door locks, doorbell cameras, appliances, and speakers - and more new applications and devices are being invented all the time. According to Statista, the number of connected IoT devices worldwide is expected to reach 30.9 billion units by 2025.

At MachineQ, a Comcast company, we work with a network of partners who specialize in bringing these unique advancements to specific markets. We power their solutions with our enterprise-grade network connectivity platform that securely captures sensor data at the edge, transmits the data to the cloud, and delivers to the end application. We've compiled a list of our top five surprising - and interesting - applications that most people would not know is solved using IoT.

Concrete curing - Most people may not realize that there is an exact science to the curing and drying of concrete in real-time. IoT-powered sensors can monitor and report on this process, which is affected by temperature, humidity, and time. Too much, or too little of these elements could negatively affect the process and potentially impact the integrity of the concrete in a building's foundation. Embedded wireless sensors automatically track these variables and report on them through a mobile app. The data enables general contractors, structural engineers, and project teams to make better decisions, save time and money on projects, and improve construction quality.

Pest control - Unwanted rodents like to make themselves at home in apartments, offices, restaurants, and other buildings, creating challenges for building owners and operators. The earliest mouse trap design dates to 1897, yet it has not changed much from the traditional product that many use today. But now, new IoT-based "smart" mousetraps can monitor and manage rodent control. They provide 24/7 visibility for pest control professionals who can easily identify traps that have been "activated" without having to check each one, at each property, in person. These IoT-enabled smart mousetraps deliver new levels of automation and offer efficient ways to get rid of pesky problems.

Connected restrooms - Public restrooms are not exciting and tend to have a negative connotation - dirty, germ-filled, etc. And while there have been advancements like automatic flushing and touchless faucets, IoT brings new innovations to the bathroom business. Now, with a smart monitoring system, building managers can be more proactive in providing well-maintained and well-stocked bathrooms using automation, while collecting data to improve the maintenance, experience, and perception of a public restroom. This is especially helpful during the COVID-19 era when patrons have increased their awareness of and desire for improved facility cleanliness, and as they begin returning to public areas such as airports, stadiums, shopping malls and other places with high-traffic public restrooms.

Wastewater monitoring and maintenance - According to the (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website, wastewater treatment facilities in the U.S. process approximately 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day. And uncontrolled stormwater runoff can have many negative impacts on humans, fish, property and more, according to the Department of Energy and Environment. Thanks to specialized IoT-based systems, cities and utilities companies are able to streamline monitoring and maintenance of sewer infrastructure by leveraging wastewater data capture and analytics. These IoT-enabled solutions can track water depth, velocity, flow, and temperature, and wirelessly send the data to a dashboard that includes a map, real-time weather data, and alerts that may affect the sewer system. And there is a lot of water to monitor.  

Industrial condition monitoring - The cost of downtime for industrial equipment can be very high, potentially shutting down entire production lines until issues are resolved and repairs are made. Today, IoT-based tools and systems enable continuous condition monitoring to help companies get the most from their assets by minimizing downtime and maximizing availability using wireless sensors. As one example, we have all been on roller coasters and experienced heavy vibrations during the ride. Of course, roller coasters need regular maintenance to ensure passenger safety and proper functioning. However, many may not be aware that IoT sensors collect vibration data from the ride's infrastructure and inform tasks such as predictive maintenance. This data also improves system performance and streamlines regulatory compliance.

From improving efficiency and reducing waste, to reducing costs and driving revenue, to delivering automation that helps us do more with less, IoT is making life better for many of us in many different ways. The next frontier in IoT may be in areas and applications that we don't know about or have yet to realize benefits from. But for now, on World IoT Day, let's take a moment to think about and celebrate what existing-and sometimes surprising-IoT solutions do for us every day, and imagine what it might be able to do for us in the years ahead.




Suresh Madhavan is Senior Director, Business Development and Partnerships at MachineQ, an enterprise IoT company within Comcast. He actively looks at new concepts, trends and business models that challenge the status quo of IoT-then identifies and expands upon external business relationships to uncover the next wave of disruption in the IoT space. 

Published Thursday, April 07, 2022 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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