Can internet of things sensor technology bridge the gap between the digital and physical world?

With every passing day the Internet of Things is bringing more devices, vehicles, buildings and other items to life. From 2013 to 2014 M2M connections grew by more than 100% YOY in manufacturing, finance, insurance, and media/entertainment with many other industries seeing growth numbers approaching 100%. Not only is IoT growing, but it’s transforming our everyday tangible objects into a full blown ecosystem that can provide tremendous value to our lives. But while IoT represents the link between the digital and physical world, it’s the sensors that are the unsung heroes which bring IoT to life.

Without sensors, IoT would simply not be possible. The current sensor technology living within our smartphones, fitness tracking devices, wearables, gaming consoles, and smart home products are constantly vibrating and monitoring; detecting and measuring; gathering and analyzing; and transmitting and reporting. They are the eyes and ears of our current state of interconnectivity. The age of sensor technology is upon us and it’s exciting to consider the possibilities it will bring.

Defining an IoT sensor

Human beings are innately drawn to ways that can enrich our lives, and our surrounding environment. IoT sensors can do just that by collecting, processing, and transmitting the data they collect across the internet. This data can be used to help consumers make informed decisions and optimize business operations through improved efficiencies. The positive effects simply cannot be understated as IoT sensors are here to disrupt the traditional ways in which we conduct business. Yet, for an IoT sensor to truly make an impact, it must be considered “smart.”

There are four core elements that must be present in a smart sensor include:

  • Data collection
  • Data procession
  • Data transmission
  • Internet connectivity

Overall, smart sensors, as the name implies, make people, places, and products smarter. They can be found all around us (e.g. smartphone devices, wearable technology, etc.), but the reason for the recent surge of interest is due to the advances in sensor technology. The current technology is now beginning to closely imitate human beings in terms of sensing abilities. They are beginning to collect different types of individual data from multiple sensors in order to provide a more accurate and vigorous analysis.

Transforming our day-to-day lives

Here’s a potential real-life scenario to consider: you are away from home when a smart home sensor detects an abnormal amount of moisture. This may signal a bursting pipe, a leaky faucet, a running toilet, etc. The sensor sends a message to your phone regarding the unusual water activity. Because of this alert, you’re able to contact a neighbor and ask them to investigate the issue. You then remotely unlock your front door, allowing the neighbor to enter your home. From there, your neighbor can assess the damage, and relay the information back to you.

This is just one example of the many ways in which the knowledge, ease, and convenience of IoT sensors can improve our day-to-day lives.

Gauging consumer interest

Consumer interest in IoT has not waned over the last few years and is steadily gaining traction—especially in terms of home monitoring and security. However, companies and government organizations make up the greatest number of sensor technology users. For government organizations, remote sensors can inform when a traffic stop light is malfunctioning, or if a building is emitting larger than normal toxins into the environment. For companies, sensors can be used to capture employee behaviors or to enrich the brand experience of paying customers.

The applications of IoT will garner more attention on the consumer front as they start involve more of the home, security, health, electronics, wearables industries and disciplines—and this is a future that is quickly approaching.

The IoT will soon interconnect all different types of products and devices across every industry. Its ubiquity is on the horizon and its potential to redefine our day-to-day lives and the way we conduct business is absolutely thrilling to watch as it unfolds.