The Rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its Impact on Our Lives

Internet of Things (IoT) and its Impact on Our Lives

A technological trend that started in its infancy years ago is now proliferating: the use of the Internet of Things (IoT). The term IoT was coined in 1982, as described by research by Farooq, Waseem, Mazhar, Khairi, and Kamal (2015). They describe the first IoT project as a modified Coke machine, which was network-enabled and connected to the Internet. The Coke machine could remotely identify the number of cans in the machine and whether they were cold over the Internet. In 1991, Mark Weiser, a visionary who worked at Parc Xerox, had a contemporary vision of IoT, back then called ubiquitous computing. Weiser envisioned embedding microprocessors in everyday objects so they can communicate information. Kevin Ashton, in 1999, proposed the term “Internet of Things” to describe a system of interconnected devices. The basic idea of IoT is to allow the exchange of information between invisibly embedded different real-world devices around us.

The IoT devices connected to the Internet by 2022 are estimated to be 18 billion IoT devices out of 29 billion connected devices to the Internet, as pointed out by Ericson (2016). These devices are physical objects with an IP stack, enabling two-way communication. Many different industries use IoT. Lin & Bergmann (2016) point out a few disrupting the industry verticals. Examples are smart home, industrial or manufacturing, automobile or transportation, healthcare, retail or merchandising, and wellness and living.

IoT devices, in most cases, are usually low-powered and slower CPU chipsets that collect data and are transmitted over a network back to a place to be centralized and turned into actionable information.

IoT networking methods are divided into short-range and wide-area networks. Examples of short-range networks consist of devices connected by unlicensed radio devices with a normal range of around 300 feet, as described by Ericson (2016). Networks of this type are Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and devices connected over fixed-line local area connections. The wide-area network devices are connected using cellular connections or unlicensed low-power technologies, such as Sigfox, LoRa, and Ingenu.

The motivation for using IoT sensors has become essential to the daily activities of many people and organizations. Applying a sensor that collects data over time assists in making decisions, some more critical than others. As the IoT sensor collects data, big data techniques and machine learning assist in turning the information into valuable and actionable information.

One exciting use of IoT is using sensor data from fitness monitors, such as Fitbit, to assist in lowering healthcare premiums. UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm have created a partnership called UnitedHealthcare Motion, where wellness programs enable a person to earn up to $1,500 a year by meeting specific goals and receiving health insurance premiums, as described by UnitedHealth Care (2017). The UnitedHealthcare Motion device tracks the number of steps a person takes. Once collected, the data enables people to earn up to $4 per day as a credit to their healthcare plan payment. The goals set are to measure the frequency of walking by the participant. The examples that UnitedHealth Care (2017) points out are walking six times per day with 300 steps within five minutes at least one hour apart, intense walking with 3,000 steps within 30 minutes, and finally, the tenacity walk is taking 10,000 total steps in one day. Using an IoT fitness sensor to provide financial reimbursement incentives to employees and companies is one way that IoT technology is reducing the cost of premiums for employees in the business.

References

Ericson (2016). Ericsson Mobility Report On The Pulse Of The Networked Society. Retrieved from https://www.ericsson.com/assets/local/mobility-report/documents/2016/ericsson-mobility-report-november-2016.pdf

Farooq, M. U., Waseem, M., Mazhar, S., Khairi, A., & Kamal, T. (2015). A review on Internet of things (IoT). International Journal of Computer Applications, 113(1) https://research.ijcaonline.org/volume113/number1/pxc3901571.pdf

Lin, H., & Bergmann, N. W. (2016). IoT privacy and security challenges for smart home environments. Information, 7(3), 44. https://doi.org/10.3390/info7030044

UnitedHealth Care. (2017). UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm Integrate New Wearable Devices with Wellness Program; People Earn Millions of Dollars in Financial Rewards for Being Active Press release. Retrieved from https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/newsroom/2017/1117unitedhealthcarequalcommwearabledevices.html

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