The Internet of Things (IoT) is all around us, but has yet to achieve its full potential. Gartner predicts the Internet of Things will reach 26 billion devices by 2020, which will be more than three times the anticipated number of PCs, tablets and smartphones combined. The Internet of Things consists of individual, specialized units with embedded technology, capable of communicating with and sensing and/or interacting with internal or external conditions. In 2009, the IoT was only 0.9 billion, which means there will be an almost 30-fold increase by the year 2020.
Why an increase in the IoT?
The IoT connects things such as manufacturing facilities and transportation systems to the internet. These devices make valuable data available in real-time. IoT enabled units are available in road, railway, and automotive sensors, advanced medical devices, factory automation sensors, industrial robotics, agricultural sensors, and electrical transmission sensors. In fact, IoT devices can be found in virtually any area which involves tracking and tracing of information.
The huge volumes of data collected via the Internet of Things in laboratories or manufacturing facilities would benefit from the storage and organizational capacity of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). Those organizations that capture and analyze this wealth data efficiently will reap tremendous benefits from the Internet of Things. LIMS are used in clinical, biological and chemical laboratories for instrument management and analytical activities. They can help track information in the production process and supply chain for businesses across a variety of industries. Data management systems which offer the ability to marry the online data captured from IoT sensors with offline analytical results provide a huge value proposition for engineers looking to track and trend production operations. The Internet of Things is an evolving technology which will work hand-in-hand with next-generation LIMS installations.
Thermo Fisher Scientific provides one such next-generation LIMS solution. Thermo Scientific™ Core LIMS™ software is used by customers across R&D industries. It is tailored to match customer workflow and automation needs to help with inventory management, automated data capture and analysis, workflow management, reporting and more.
IoT and Consumer Goods
Many companies are including IoT capable components in consumer products today, as an investment in the future. These mechanisms consist of: a set of hardware, embedded logic, communications components and information services enabling this technology. The technology is inexpensive; so embedding the necessary “dormant” equipment in newly manufactured products, ensures the potential for connectivity which may be activated at a future date. According to Gartner, IoT product and service supplier revenue is expected to reach $300 billion by 2020, however no one can really be sure of what the new products and services will entail. Peter Middleton, research director at Gartner, has the following prediction:
“By 2020, component costs will have come down to the point that connectivity will become a standard feature, even for processors costing less than $1. This opens up the possibility of connecting just about anything, from the very simple to the very complex, to offer remote control, monitoring and sensing. The fact is, that today, many categories of connected things in 2020 don’t yet exist. As product designers dream up ways to exploit the inherent connectivity that will be offered in intelligent products, we expect the variety of devices offered to explode.”
IoT in smart devices can help transform medicine. Dr. Anthony Jones of Philips Healthcare, describes how the Internet of Things can lead to more sophisticated and more continuous patient monitoring. For example, constantly streaming data with information on a patient’s vitals can provide a continuously measured and monitored dataset which is a more accurate and more easily monitored than the current system of scheduled checks by hospital staff. With continuously monitored data transmitted to a central repository, data trends can be analyzed and more intelligence programmed into data collection.
The rapid growth of IoT implementations will lead to many positive uses, including improvements in efficiency, safety, security. A wide range of health devices and services, medical advances, sensor informed transportation services and smart building services and consumer products are only a few of the new anticipated benefits. To put the big data generated from IoT sensors into proper context, scientists and engineers will require data management solutions capable of scaling to deal with the volume, velocity and variety of complexities attributes to these devices. Effective data management solutions will be required to correlate IoT sensor information with more traditional offline analytical laboratory results to establish correlation and enable predictive analytics.