Over the past century, we have seen the emergence of a kind of global data field. The planet itself—natural systems, human systems, physical objects—have always generated an enormous amount of data, but until recent decades, we weren’t able to hear it, to see it, to capture it. Now we can because all of these things have been instrumented with microchips, UPC codes, and other technologies. And they’re all interconnected, so now we can actually have access to the data. In effect, the planet has grown a central nervous system and is developing intelligence. It’s becoming a much smarter planet.
Internet of Everything (IoE)
“By the end of this decade, every little thing—no matter how specialized, mundane or disposable—will come equipped with its own dedicated stash of big-data smarts.” These will be able to communicate with a network system and their output analyzed to draw conclusions, make plans, or make adjustments.
This is otherwise called the Internet of Everything (IoE). CISCO (network suppliers) commissioned a study that identified global benefits from IoE. They found this new wave of innovation could boost global GDP by as much as $15 trillion over the next 10 years, which is like adding a further 25% to the world’s wealth or doubling the size of the US economy.
Sources of Value Created
- Customer experience – $3.7 trillion
- Innovation (time to market) – $3.0 trillion
- Supply chain (eliminating waste) – $2.7 trillion
- Asset utilisation (reduced costs) – $2.5 trillion
- Staff productivity (efficiencies) – $2.5 trillion
Use in Agriculture
Water scarcity in Bali is increasingly critical from tourism demands and will become acuter as climate change make a greater impact. Rice actually grows better when it is less frequently flooded – flooding is used mainly to control weeds. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) has been used to improve productivity with less water and better management and some trials have occurred in Java using sensors to advise (via wireless) and release when more water is needed.
In the rest of the world, sensors are becoming increasingly common in improving crop yields and reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and water. For example, cotton growers in Australia who are using soil moisture sensors have almost doubled their yields per megalitre of water when they vary irrigation rates according to the localized needs of the soil and plants. http://www.smartpaddy.eu/ is an IoE project developed by the European Union for improved rice production yields.
IoE in Your Pocket
You most likely already have an IoE example in your pocket. The average smartphone is full of sensors and the means to communicate via wireless to other systems.
In a recent example of their combined use, Australian scientists used smartphones to measure the level of street noise and its impact on stress. “We only want to sample when the phone’s in your hand, so the program determines if it’s in a bag, pocket or case. By using its light monitor, accelerometer and proximity sensors, to determine its position and unwanted data can then be discarded,” says Dr. Rajib Rana from CSIRO.
“GPS readings are used to determine movement below 6 kilometers per hour. Which is the average speed of the person walking, and a valid GPS signal means they’re outdoors.”
The noise level and GPS coordinates are then sampled every minute and stored along with the location and time. Before being uploaded to the database when a free Wi-Fi connection is detected.
What is demonstrated here is the “network effect” of benefits that you can realize by increasing the interconnection, instrumentation, and intelligence of a cloud of IoE phones.
Secured identification of artwork is a major concern for galleries, owners and artists alike. New identification opportunities available now include Radio Frequency (RFID) tags. Some of which have been developed specifically for Museums and Galleries. These labels can be read from a range of around 4 meters, and you can read about 200 a second.
What does this mean?
- A suitably secured label can be used to maintain the authenticity of the artwork.
- The artwork can be tracked wherever it goes.
- Inventory checks can be performed in seconds without having to look behind paintings or take them (or other artifacts) out of tubes or drawers.
- Artists and gallery owners can get their jobs done easily and quickly, with superb outcomes.
Can you see a use for RFID in your business operations?
Cost of IoE
A passive RFID tag embedded in a thermal transfer label on which you can print a barcode costs from 15 cents and up. Volume is a key factor in price. The price of readers is rapidly dropping too, ranging from under $100 to $750. Distance Readers. Just like GPS systems now, are likely to be available in smartphones by the end of this decade.
In an example of the Human Internet of Things, a Swiss art museum asked visitors to volunteer for an experiment that involved them. Wearing a glove with a wireless RFID sensor plus a wireless heart rate sensor that you fit over your finger. The RFID sensor was able to tell them exactly where volunteers went to the museum. How long they stayed at a particular place, while the heart rate sensor gave them emotional feedback at each location. Other variants of this wearable technology are already being sold. Like the Nike FuelBand, FitBits and Google Glass. Home applications include Nest Thermostat and Revolv.
How can IoE help you in retailing?
- Improved accuracy and time saving by scanning RFID tags instead of keying in product details for receipts and sales.
- Improved information dashboards to advise on sales conversions, inventory effectiveness, staff effectiveness.
- Many stores are suffering lost sales of around 7% just because they are not replenishing store stock. But imagine if you could walk through your store and take a 3-minute inventory to compare with your computer-held stock plan –and you have a list of what you need urgently to improve your sales.
- An RFID tag could let smartphone shoppers know exactly where to go to the shop to find the item.
- You can provide training support to your staff directly to their own phone through an app.
- Shoppers can get critical advice on product benefits and features to help conversions.
- Shoppers can be advised of suitable up-sell and cross-sell products.
- Video displays tailored to a customer’s personal requirements shown on their phone.
Using RFID Tags
Some hospitals are now using RFID tags within staff tags to ensure proper hand washing compliance as a means of reducing infections. Other examples available now: trucks fleet management, medical equipment control, vending machines inventory, construction equipment, gas and electric meters, thermostats, household appliances, advertising display signs, and many others.
Impact on education and Jobs
The impact on people and jobs will be profound and disruptive. Old jobs will disappear, new jobs not even thought of yet will become essential, and existing jobs will often need major reconfiguration. The benefits available from staff inclusiveness and collaboration will require extensive new training. Supporting services for these needs will be a whole new industry in itself.
An example: one key element needed to make the Internet of Everything really fly is the analytical smarts to make use of all that data pouring in. It is estimated that the worlds need for analytical skills will be four times the current availability.
What’s best for you?
Next issue we will examine how you can best apply the Internet of Everything to your own business.