IoT Applications: 7 Real-World Examples Across Industries
Healthcare, supply chain management, agriculture, and manufacturing – these are just a few examples of industries currently being revolutionized by the Internet of Things. Explore 7 types of IoT applications across various sectors, draw inspiration from real-world examples, and see how this technology can reshape your business.
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There’s a reason why the Internet of Things market is expected to be worth over $1 trillion by 2024. IoT applications automate processes and generate brand-new product offerings thanks to the continuous connection between machines, humans, and data. Together with enhanced sensor connectivity and new technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT has the potential to drive innovation across industries ranging from healthcare to manufacturing.
Apart from technology improvements, the Internet of Things also presents a number of solutions addressing the most pressing concerns of our time: climate change, access to healthcare services, and growing urbanization. To achieve their sustainability goals and optimize operations, companies and governments are investing in IoT-based energy and resource management solutions such as smart grid technology or telemedicine.
This article dives into real-world IoT applications that perfectly encapsulate the potential of this technology for solving the most important issues societies are facing now.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for connecting and sharing data with other devices and systems over the Internet.
The global number of IoT devices is expected to nearly double, from 15.1 billion in 2020 to more than 29 billion in 2030.
IoT technology has emerged as one of the most important technologies in recent years, enabling us to connect common objects to the internet (embedded devices) that include things such as kitchen appliances, vehicles, vibrators (like OhMiBod), digital displays (like Loop), thermostats, and baby monitors, building seamless communication between people, processes, and things.
Thanks to IoT, physical objects can exchange and gather data with minimum human interaction using smart sensors, the cloud, big data, analytics, and mobile devices. Such digital systems can record, monitor, and alter each interaction between linked devices in a hyperconnected environment where the physical and digital worlds come together
What are the core components of IoT?
Device connection layer
The device connection layer is made up of devices and sensors. Smart sensors continually collect data from their surroundings and relay it to the following layer. The most recent semiconductor technology approaches can manufacture tiny smart sensors for a variety of applications.
Some common types of sensors include:
- Thermostats and temperature sensors,
- Pressure sensors,
- Light intensity sensors,
- Humidity/moisture level sensors,
- RFID labels.
Connectivity via wireless networks
The majority of current smart devices and sensors can connect to low-power wireless networks such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, ZigBee, Z-wave, LoRAWAN, and others. Each of these wireless technologies offers unique advantages and disadvantages in terms of power, data transmission rate, and overall efficiency.
An IoT gateway is responsible for managing the bidirectional data flow between multiple networks and protocols. The gateway can also translate multiple network protocols and ensure the compatibility of linked devices and sensors.
Gateways can be set to locally analyze data obtained from thousands of sensors before passing it to the next level. With higher-order encryption algorithms, IoT gateways provide a certain level of security for the network and transmitted data, serving as a barrier between devices and the cloud.
The Internet of Things generates vast amounts of data from devices, apps, and users, which must be managed efficiently. The IoT cloud provides the capabilities required for collecting, processing, managing, and storing massive volumes of data in real-time. Businesses and services can access this data remotely for enhanced decision-making.
The Internet of Things cloud is essentially a complex, high-performance network of computers designed to do high-speed data processing on billions of devices, traffic control, and precise analytics.
Transforming analog data from billions of smart devices and sensors into usable insights that teams can use for decision-making is a vital part of IoT.
For IoT systems to be managed and optimized as a whole, they need smart analytics solutions. For example, real-time smart analytics lets engineers find problems with the data devices collect and act quickly to prevent a minor issue from snowballing into a massive problem.
IoT applications / simple websites equipped with user interfaces are the visible, physical components of the IoT system that users can interact with. Modern approaches propose a more interactive design to simplify complicated processes into an understandable interface – for example, simple touch panel controls.
In today’s competitive market, user interface design is a key factor in customers’ purchasing decisions. Users are more likely to purchase new devices or smart gadgets if they’re easy to use and compatible with popular wireless protocols.
Do all IoT projects require the same components?
In IoT (Internet of Things) projects, the components such as devices/sensors, gateways, cloud services, analytics, apps (user interfaces), and wireless networks can vary depending on the project’s specific needs and objectives.
- Devices/sensors and wireless networks are essential in every IoT system for data collection and communication.
- Wireless networks are a fundamental component in the majority of IoT systems, facilitating the transmission of data from devices/sensors. While almost always necessary, there are some IoT setups where alternative communication methods (like wired connections) might be used, especially in environments where wireless communication is impractical or poses security risks.
- Gateways, which link devices/sensors to the cloud, are commonly needed but may be omitted in simpler setups where devices directly connect to the cloud.
- Cloud services are widely used for data storage and processing in IoT, although some projects might manage these tasks locally or through decentralized methods.
- Analytics plays a key role in projects focused on data analysis and decision-making, but might not be central to basic data-gathering tasks.
- The user interface, whether it’s a mobile/web app, an Apple Watch app, or a simple web page, is critical when human interaction or monitoring is required, but it is not necessary for automated, behind-the-scenes processes.
To sum up, while certain components like devices/sensors and wireless networks are almost universally present, others, such as gateways or cloud services, may vary based on the complexity and specific needs of the project.
Why is IoT important today?
Businesses can boost efficiency and production by deploying IoT devices to automate and optimize operations. IoT sensors, for example, help to monitor equipment performance and detect or even address possible issues before they create downtime, lowering maintenance costs and increasing uptime.
Smart devices provide massive volumes of data that teams can use to make better-informed business decisions and create new products. IoT applications also provide insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and operational performance.
IoT technology also helps organizations save costs and boost profitability by automating repetitive tasks and reducing manual processes that are prone to human-made errors.
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The Internet of Things plays a role in customer experience as well, helping businesses build more tailored and engaging experiences for customers. Retail is a great example of that – a store can implement IoT devices to track client movements in stores and give targeted offers depending on their actions.
Finally, there’s the sustainability benefit of IoT. Take the concept of smart cities as an example. It emerged as a potential solution to the environmental issues caused by growing urbanization. A survey from 2019 showed that 4 in 5 people believe that such cities can be created with IoT. Today, this number is likely even bigger.
7 Popular IoT applications across industries
Before we delve into the details, let’s take a brief look at the most popular types of IoT applications and their impact on changes across various industries:
1. IoT in healthcare
Connected devices in the healthcare industry, also known as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), are one of the fastest-growing segments of the IoT space, with a projected market value of $177 billion by 2026.
Here are some examples of IoT applications in healthcare:
- Patient health monitoring – Doctors can use IoT applications to remotely monitor high-risk patients at home, such as the elderly and those with chronic conditions. Good examples of that are continuous glucose monitors (CGM) that use sensors placed into the skin to monitor diabetes patients, giving a bird’s-eye perspective of the patient’s hyperglycemia trends. Since these devices provide real-time and continuous data, doctors can adjust prescriptions and propose modifications as needed.
- Improved access to patient medical records – The Internet of Things also improves access to patient medical records by making real-time data available across various departments and professionals.
- Real-time data enhancing medical research – Until now, medical research has always relied on data obtained in a controlled setting or generated after the event. Vast amounts of real-time data via IoT significantly benefit research.
- Improved drug development and production – IoT is used by pharma companies to enhance the pharmaceutical production process. Lower medicine prices are the direct result of this. Another use case is smart inventory management.
- Telemedicine – During the COVID pandemic, the Internet of Things started to be used in a variety of ways, from telemedicine to vaccine cold chain monitoring.
A real-life example of a healthcare IoT app: QardioCore
QardioCore is a smart device that works as an ECG monitor, which lets users better monitor health issues such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also provides data to healthcare facilities, which monitor illnesses like diabetes, heart problems, and weight gain without requiring physical visits.
QardioCore monitors heart rate and heart rate variability, skin temperature, respiration rate, and activity monitoring in addition to continually collecting ECG data, offering clinicians a better understanding of their patients’ entire heart health and behavior.
2. IoT & smart cities
A smart city is a city that uses sensors and cellular or wireless technologies in common areas like lampposts, electricity, and heat systems, as well as water and waste management systems.
Here are a few ways to incorporate IoT into the running of a city:
- Air pollution control – Air pollution is a major issue in every country throughout the world. Temperature, CO2 levels, smoke, and humidity can all be easily measured using current sensors. Modern cities use IoT to collect data on air quality and build mitigation strategies.
- Traffic management – Road sensors and traffic lights send data to IoT systems via smart lighting systems. When gathered over time, this data enables officials to examine traffic patterns during peak hours and develop bottleneck remedies. Commuters can use this data to evaluate which regions are busy and which other routes are available.
- Parking – Parking may sound trivial, but it plays a vital role in traffic management. Smart parking systems provide vehicles with real-time information about available unoccupied spaces.
- Waste, water, and electricity management – Sensors installed internally or externally in water meters help with water management, helping cities better understand consumption patterns. Water waste trends can be used to design an effective water recycling system. An IoT-powered smart waste management system creates a geographical map of trash production, starts the clearing process, and improves garbage segregation.
- Infrastructure management – Maintaining public infrastructure such as streetlights, roads, parks, and gas supply lines is expensive. Repair work in any of these creates disturbances in daily operations. Maintenance and monitoring systems based on IoT seek out symptoms of wear and tear while evaluating trends, helping cities save a significant amount of money thanks to predictive maintenance.
- Management of disasters – Disaster-prone locations can be linked to a warning system using the Internet of Things. A forest fire, for example, can be discovered and extinguished before it spreads out of control.
A real-life example of a smart city app: Parker
Available across many cities in the United States, Parker directs drivers to available on-street and off-street parking lots/garages in real-time. Users can easily find prices, time limitations, operating hours, and parking regulations to park without anxiety. Users also benefit from easy mobile payment methods.
In places where Parker has real-time sensors, the app can provide real-time guidance with dynamic routing. It also features an automatic “Find My Car” feature that helps users locate their vehicles.
3. IoT in supply chain management
Supply chain management (SCM) is all about streamlining the flow of products and services from raw material purchases to customer delivery. Inventory management, fleet management, vendor connections, and planned maintenance are all part of this field.
Many companies were impacted by supply chain concerns during the pandemic, which inspired them to incorporate modern solutions based on IoT. The number of companies using IoT in supply chain management increases by 27% on average year over year.
The Internet of Things is used throughout the supply chain management process:
- Trackers – Shipping businesses often struggle to keep track of assets. This is where trackers help. They also let companies examine shipping routes to determine the quickest and most fuel-efficient routes. Other use cases are monitoring and regulating other characteristics such as container temperature and humidity.
- Smart routing – The Internet of Things technology lets teams redesign the supply chain process by offering smart routing options. This enhances the durability of supply chains.
- Real-time and remote fleet management – This solution guarantees a great experience for both managers and customers. Any transportation delays or problems can instantly alert the proper people thanks to the end-to-end communication between vehicles and managers and between vehicles and drivers. Aside from asset management, IoT also monitors vehicle health, ensuring that emissions regulations are obeyed.
A real-life example of a supply chain management IoT app: ZillionSource
ZillionSource combines the power of hardware with new technology, providing companies with insights into their asset monitoring or supply chain goods. In addition to global map tracing and trip notes, the IoT platform analyzes data and presents it in reports and graphs.
Even with millions of devices, the scalable and expandable platform runs seamlessly. Customization and security devices are handled via its business cloud application for dynamic control and its advanced pattern-recognition rule engine, which allows users to adjust and define rules according to their preferences.
4. IoT in agriculture
Agriculture stands to greatly benefit from the Internet of Things as governments around the world prioritize the expansion of agricultural systems. Farmers are using technology in farming to improve production yields and, at the same time, fight climate change by making their operations more sustainable. The global smart farming market will reach almost $30 billion by 2023.
Here are some common IoT applications in agriculture:
- Sensors – They offer data on soil chemistry and fertilizer profiles, as well as CO2 levels, moisture, temperature, acidity level, and the presence of adequate nutrients. This data is key for understanding future harvest
- RFID chips – Agriculture companies can use them for livestock tracking to maintain track of an animal’s vitals, vaccination data, and whereabouts.
- Smart greenhouses – Instead of relying on changing weather patterns, a smart greenhouse uses microclimate to grow food. Sensors monitor and regulate all parameters, and light and water systems are automated.
- Smart irrigation – This is an Internet of Things application that regulates and effectively uses water in agriculture. The IoT system only starts the water flow when the soil reaches a specified level of dryness. It also cuts off the flow when a particular level is reached to cut down on waste caused by human error.
- Prediction farming – This is a technique of honing and implementing agricultural strategies based on information gathered over time. The data generated by sensors enables farmers to choose the best growth parameters and fertilizers.
A real-life example of an agriculture IoT app: Farmalyzer
Farmalyzer is a platform that connects IoT sensors, weather data, climate analysis, and horticulture advice. Users can get free weather data, soil maps, topographical maps, and satellite pictures.
The app also lets users manage weather stations and soil sensors. It includes a smartphone location service, AR mode for quickly locating sensors and effective recommendations for optimizing local growth management by accounting for microclimate differences.
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5. IoT in energy
Utility companies are looking to IoT to improve energy efficiency. Energy meters, transmission lines, manufacturing plants, and distribution terminals can all have appropriate sensors to create a smart grid.
According to a McKinsey estimate, IoT in the energy sector might provide annual advantages of $40-70 billion by 2025.
Here are some examples of IoT applications in the energy sector:
- Sensors and the smart grid – Sensors have a rich array of use cases: they can generate notifications in the event of a power transmission breakdown at any point, detect line irregularities, keep track of energy consumption, and collect data on consumption at the regional, organizational, and individual levels.
- Reduction of carbon footprint – Data coming from sensors helps everyday users assess their energy use, take steps towards energy saving, and reduce their carbon footprints. It’s also a solution for reducing expenses when energy prices soar.
- Bringing together multiple energy sources – Utilities companies are departing from fuel-only systems and instead relying on a number of energy sources, including renewables, heat pumps, biomass, and others. Using a smart grid, they can easily switch between these various energy sources and make sure that specific parameters are in line with user expectations.
- Predictive maintenance – Smart grids and intelligent energy meters enable predictive maintenance, which significantly reduces operational costs.
A real-life example of an energy IoT app: Oma Helen
Oma Helen is a mobile app from the Finnish utilities provider Helen that offers unique insights into energy statistics and the fundamentals of energy consumption to individual users.
The app helps users manage their contract-related issues, get information on the energy use and output, right down to the hourly level, and see how their individual use affects the fixed pricing component of the contract.
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6. IoT in manufacturing
The Internet of Things is all about bringing physical items into the digital spotlight. What better place to use this than on the production floor? The Internet of Things (IoT) at the industrial level is known as Industrial IoT (IIoT), also called Industry 4.0 or the fourth wave of the industrial revolution.
The worldwide IoT manufacturing market was valued at $50.0 billion in 2021 and is expected to produce $87.9 billion by the end of 2026.
Here are some common applications of IoT in manufacturing:
- Maintenance management – Most manufacturers use enterprise asset management (EAM) and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS). Combining them with IoT-enabled sensors increases the machine’s physical life while also ensuring availability and dependability.
- Real-time device monitoring – This allows predictive maintenance and optimal machine health. Condition-based maintenance (CBM) is a maintenance method that monitors asset health and conducts maintenance only when necessary. IoT facilitates this while also lowering expenses.
- Optimization of product development and quality testing – This area of innovation has the potential to enhance everything from packaging to management. The IIoT can automate many manual maintenance tasks, which in turn automates mass manufacturing, and leverage machine learning systems to constantly improve the output.
A real-life example of: Digital Factory Wizard
Digital Factory Wizard is an app that allows users to track their factory floor activities in new ways. All the linked “things” are transformed into valuable data to help companies operate their businesses. Dedicated reports help to continually improve everyday procedures and employee performance.
7. IoT, wearables and consumer tech
Wearable technology is another tangible manifestation of the Internet of Things. Smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart eyeglasses, and even connected fabric are all examples of wearable technology. The worldwide consumer IoT technology market was valued at $221.74 billion in 2022, and it’s expected to reach $616.75 billion by 2032.
Here are a few examples of IoT wearable devices and their functionalities:
- Notifications and reminders – Smartwatches can do anything from read text messages and display notifications to monitor locations and display reminders.
- Fintech wearables – Wearable payment devices include clothing, gadgets, and accessories that let users make contactless payments. Smartwatches, belts, jackets, fitness trackers, and even rings are the most popular types. They link the smartphone to the consumer’s bank account through services such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay.
- Augmented Reality – When combined with head-mounted augmented reality (AR) equipment, wearables give surgeons access to patient history, previous data collected, and real-time current data during surgery.
A real-life example: OhMiBod
OhMiBod for Apple Watch – it’s a remote intimacy app that allows partners to connect and control one another’s pleasure gadgets from anywhere in the world. It was launched at CES 2019.
A real-life example: WHOOP
WHOOP is a wearable device and mobile app that monitors sleep, strain, recovery, stress, and health biometrics 24 hours a day. The product provides individualized coaching based on user goals to help them achieve peak performance.
WHOOP converts data into actionable next steps and recommends anything from when to sleep to what habits to adopt to help users attain their objectives. WHOOP measures heart rate variability, resting heart rate, sleep, and respiratory rate to determine how prepared the user is to perform.
The future of the Internet of Things
Thanks to its ability to link a wide range of equipment and sensors to the internet, IoT has already transformed numerous industries, from manufacturing to healthcare. The potential value of IoT is growing. McKinsey estimates that its value will grow to $12.5 trillion globally by 2030. But what’s in store for this fast-growing technology?
IoT security is one of the biggest challenges that impact the adoption of this technology trend. A solution to that is the shift to edge computing, which involves analyzing data on the device itself rather than transferring it to the cloud. Edge computing has the potential to reduce latency, increase dependability, and improve privacy and security.
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Another IoT trend is the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to evaluate data from connected devices. Businesses can obtain insights into IoT data by applying sophisticated analytics to it, but only systems based on machine learning algorithms can deliver accurate and valuable insights when circumstances change.
Moreover, alongside these advancements in AI and ML, there’s a growing integration of blockchain technology in the IoT landscape. It’s being used to improve security and privacy in the IoT as well. Data from an IoT device could be kept in a decentralized, tamper-proof ledger using blockchain, making it more secure and less subject to attack.
Our experience in IoT app development
If you’re looking for an IoT application development company, you’re in the right place. With over 10 years of experience, we specialize in building both native and Flutter-based IoT apps. Just to name a few, we’ve created OhMiBod, OhMiBod Remote for Apple Watch, and Loop.
IoT applications – wrap up
The Internet of Things has a bright future ahead of it, with numerous applications poised to transform industries and enhance our daily lives. The potential for IoT devices, systems, and apps is essentially unlimited, ranging from edge computing and AI to smart cities and smart farming.
We can expect even more fascinating advancements in the next few years as developers and businesses continue to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible when using an IoT device.