The IoT Building Blocks for a Smarter Life

Mar 05, 2019

It’s 2025; Paul wakes up to the melodious notes of his wake up call. His IoT empowered wristband running health diagnostics signals a restful sleep cycle and in parallel cues the coffee dispenser to start brewing his morning cuppa. The doorbell rings, it’s a delivery from his favourite grocery store based on the inventory auto-sent by his smart refrigerator. He uses his smartphone to control IoT enabled smart lights, self-regulated thermostat, and smart locks preparing to leave for the day. His smart car then effortlessly navigates to work utilizing interconnected smart city IoT empowered traffic systems and services. This is just a slice in time of what an IoT enable smart life could look like.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming the Internet of Everything!

While technology pundits are very often given to hyperbole when they claim that IoT is poised to change everything - they may have a point! The Internet of Things is evolving into a paradigm where the real and the virtual are converging to create smart environments. IoT is re-engineering cities, energy, transport, and multifarious other facets of our everyday lives creating an interconnected web of high-tech digital services. Gartner[i] predicts that by 2020, there would be 20.8 billion devices worldwide connected to the Internet, generating more than 20 zettabytes of data!

IoT growth in Southeast Asia remains a top priority and many key cities across the region have been undertaking several IoT initiatives. These include Singapore’s Smart Nation drive, Indonesia’s ambitious projects to establish Smart Cities in Bandung, Jakarta and Surabaya, as well as Thailand’s augmented spending in this area that is estimated to reach $973 million in 2020.

Since its inception in 1999 the Internet of Things has been heavily scrutinized and very often side-lined due to its high implementation and maintenance costs and difficulty in integrating with legacy technologies. And yet here we are - two decades later - in an ecosystem where tens of thousands of organizations are making and saving billions of dollars due to the early adoption of IoT. From self-driven cars to algorithms diagnosing deadly diseases using mobile apps - the future promises amazing forays into hitherto uncharted territories!

Let’s just look at a few instances: Geo-fencing - an advanced form of GPS in the transportation industry has increased cost efficiencies and reduced cycle time. In the Internet of (Aircraft) Things, Bombardier showcased its new C-Series jetliner that boasted Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbo Fan (GTF) engine and has 5,000 sensors producing as much as 10 GB of data each second. It also offers AI capabilities to predict future engine demands and provide adjustments. Farmers are utilizing IoT to track equipment location, performance, and getting real-time insights to livestock dietary habits. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) has been mandated by the Malaysian government to develop the National IoT Strategic Roadmap to drive IoT as a new source of growth in catalysing it’s Digital Economy[ii]. IoT supports smart retail by reducing inventory error, optimizing supply chain management and decreasing labour costs.   

No wonder that startups in SE Asia are clamouring to get a slice of this pie!

The IoT phenomenon is on the rise due to its unique value proposition. Its interconnected web of smart sensor enabled devices provides improved connectivity, cheaper technology, miniaturization of devices, edge computing and the ability to collect and analyse data in real time - providing life altering insights and solutions. In its simplest form, IoT has three components - digitization of assets, collection of data from the assets, and computational algorithms controlling the system formed by these interconnected assets that are becoming the building blocks of a smarter life. There are a plethora of real world IoT adoption examples that are a testament to the revolutionary nature of this disruptor. While the applications of IoT are immense across sectors, let’s take a look at its impact in 3 areas – building smart cities, smart buildings, and smart healthcare.

IoT empowering Smart Cities

Rapid urbanization is shifting human populace from rural to urban areas much faster than cities can adapt to this influx. Sixty eight per cent of the world’s population[iii] is estimated to live in urban areas by 2050! What can urban planners do to meet the demands of a burgeoning population? IoT has the answer. Municipalities are already leveraging IoT to improve communication, enhance infrastructure, and reduce costs. From traffic management, to optimal utilization of utilities, to effective waste management and pollution control – IoT is making better use of infrastructure and building smarter cities. An IDC report pegs global smart city technology spending to grow to $135 billion by 2021. In the 32nd ASEAN Summit Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong proposed an IoT empowered ASEAN Smart Cities Network initiative (ASCN) which was approved by all members of the bloc. As part of this initiative Jakarta has launched Qlue – a smart city social media app which allows users to report issues, real-time to governments and businesses. Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative is also building smarter communities with citizen apps that enable people to provide real-time feedback to public service providers and research institutions. The future of IoT empowered smart cities will only grow – offering advanced smart city applications, eco-sustainable initiatives, and critical opportunities for enterprise development.

IoT as the backbone of smart buildings

With new smart building solutions arriving in the form of low-cost, easy to install IoT sensors and switches – these devices are overcoming the capital barriers that limit traditional building management systems (BMS). They are turning buildings from passive infrastructure to intelligent ecosystems, able to interact with their occupants. Smart buildings maximize efficiency, minimize waste, and enhance user experience via a web of connected devices and systems. For instance, smart lighting and thermostats can significantly improve a building’s energy efficiency, connected surveillance systems can boost security, and beacons can help in location and navigation of sprawling premises. Take for example, smart airports that are leveraging digital beacon-linked maps for easier routing, location based retail suggestions, and real-time updates through SMS notifications. The GVK Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport[iv] in Mumbai has an IoT powered navigation app based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons and technologies and provides interactive navigation assistance to passengers. BorderPass Malaysia uses IoT to address the challenge of endless, hours-long of immigration queues in the ASEAN region. McKinsey forecasts automated checkout to reduce cashier staff requirements by 75% - resulting in savings of $380 billion a year by 2025.

IoT at the forefront of a healthier life

IoT is revolutionizing the healthcare industry – from reduced emergency room wait times to remote health monitoring systems. Digital research firm eMarketer[v] reports a $163 billion value for IoT-related healthcare by 2020. Already IoT enabled sensors like smart Continuous Glucose Monitors (CMG’s) help diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels. Bluetooth-enabled weighing scales and blood pressure cuffs linked to a symptom-tracking app help people stay connected to their physicians. Singapore based startups like Healint are increasing public access to affordable, quality health services. IoT has opened a plethora of possibilities in medicine. Ordinary medical devices can now do extraordinary things like collecting invaluable patient data, provide insight into symptoms and trends, permit remote care, and grant physicians and patients more control over lives and treatment.

The smart way forward

While digital transformation and IoT adoption is on the rise across large enterprises, there are still some serious challenges hindering mass deployment. The lack of agility in large enterprises to move at the speed of technological change is the sweet spot for startups in the IoT arena. Large companies are forming and supporting open innovation ecosystems to partner with nimble startups and innovate faster. They are looking for help in areas such as standardized handling of unstructured data, technical skills to use top-tier tools, security and privacy concerns, and forecasted connectivity bandwidth required to handle the enormous IoT data volumes.

IoT has evolved well beyond the hype and is an emergent disruptor and enabler of technical, social, and economic significance. Forecasts[vi] for the impact of IoT are substantial - with an anticipated global economic impact of $11 trillion by 2025. While IoT is on the upsurge - the most significant decision you can make now is how to be a part of it!

To know more about trends in IoT and how you can leverage it for your business, connect with our Interchange Experts.








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