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Internet of Things

A Safer and More Environment-friendly Planet is no Longer a Dream

What was once a hyped up dream is a reality today, and connected innovation with extremely low power sensors is starting to benefit every part of our incredible planet
A Safer and More Environment-friendly Planet is no Longer a Dream
Image credit: shutterstock
President & CEO, Semtech
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The technology industry today is centered around making our lives easier. The Internet of Things (IoT) has played a central role in this, turning the devices around us into data-gathering end nodes to bring the information from around the world at our fingertips. However, the IoT industry is in its infancy and its true potential, both in terms of productivity enhancements and improving efficiencies, as well as creating a safer and more environment-friendly planet for all, is just starting to be realised. 

Every enterprise in every industry needs to recognise and be accountable for its own environmental footprint and play its role in helping conserve natural resources and reduce waste globally. Today, monitoring and managing the use of our natural resources, such as water, is becoming an essential and critical priority for all cities, states and countries. Low power sensor networks that connect our natural resources to intelligent machine learning (ML) engines that analyse and synthesise billions of data bits into meaningful information is enabling the emergence of a much smarter planet. Information gathered and connected enables smart, simple but timely decisions to be made when needed. This is the way of the future for our planet. For instance, monitoring and managing water by using low power leak detectors, low power flow and usage meters, and low power actuators to turn off water valves as required, is rapidly becoming the smart water system of choice globally.

Smarter energy usage is another area that is transforming industries as the use of smarter thermostats, smarter lighting controls and smarter electric outlets are enabling businesses to cut down on energy consumption and energy bills. Furthermore, energy management systems can work with smart devices to schedule non-essential operations at off-peak hours when energy demand and prices are lower. And finally, the promise of connected smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and connected air quality sensors, brings a much higher level of safety to buildings and homes and the general environment we live in. Utility companies have been slow to adopt IoT, but increasingly the promise of both cost savings and enhancing the ability to monitor and manage energy during rough weather conditions or disaster situations has opened the door for potential changes globally to how utilities manage energy. The availability of very low power sensor networks, which are easily maintained and connect over tens of kilometers, is disrupting the energy industry globally as these low power sensor networks enable true smart connectivity.   

Today, the largest IoT segment is connected consumer devices. The emerging industrial IoT is likely to dwarf the consumer segment in terms of the number of connected sensors in the future. Industrial IoT is driving the use of sensors to monitor equipment function, predict malfunction, and track and monitor asset location and adherence to specifications during the life of the asset. The food and medical industries require strict temperature management during the life and transport of an asset. Connecting these assets with extremely low power sensors that can be tracked indoors or outdoors, while in fridges or ovens, while in a moving vehicle or from a fixed location, enables an enterprise to guarantee that assets have maintained their original spec. through their journey. This form of asset tracking enables enterprises to predict core temperatures of different food or pharmaceutical items and automatically adjust the temperature levels in compliance with safety regulations. In addition, the ability to track and locate human resources, whether they are working in a large manufacturing or construction site, or in a theme park or shopping mall, enables a level of safety and security that has been dreamed of for many years.

Healthcare is another industry that has been revolutionised by the IoT. Connected devices can help monitor high-risk patients around the clock, enabling overworked medical staff and caretakers to provide better care and improve patient outcomes. In addition to monitoring devices, other types of healthcare wearables include connected hearing aids which offer a longer-lasting and more reliable hearing solution. Advanced audiovisual (AV) applications are also enabling medical professionals to provide better quality of care. Today, medical AV applications can connect to a variety of sources such as camera scopes, operating room live feeds, heads-up displays, and X-ray machines, providing critical information for surgeries and other medical procedures. Additionally, dynamic digital signage in hospitals and care facilities can improve the patient admission processes and provide easily accessible information to visitors, so staff can focus their time where it is needed the most. Once again, connected low power sensors are enabling a smarter healthcare system and the smart hospital is coming.

Low power sensor networks that can be easily maintained and managed, and whose connectivity range over tens of kilometers, change the smart planet vector. What was once a hyped up dream is a reality today, and connected innovation with extremely low power sensors is starting to benefit every part of our incredible planet.

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