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The Internet of things (IoT)

Never Assume! Reprographic printers: Digital Printing.

In today’s blog we get a little geeky and look at some emerging leading edge technology that is going to affect our lives.  Both at work, at home, on the way to work, on holiday, on the way to holiday, out shopping, at home watching TV, playing golf, gardening and even while we sleep… Everything Everywhere.

What sort of technology could this be?  We are looking at… The Internet of things (IoT)

Lets start with a definition – According to Wikipedia –

IoT is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

Smart devices collecting and exchanging data, that doesn’t sound like it’s going to change our world.  The thing is, it already has, and the affects IoT will increasingly change our lives.

What’s the big deal with data?  Boringly, most of the IoT devices are simply sensors, gathering, you guessed it … data.  Tracking and reporting data like temperature, pressure, and you.

You!?  An example may help.  Disneyland has swapped park entry tickets for smart ‘MagicBands’.  These are bracelets that allow access to the parks, restricted area’s and rides.  And all the time tracking the wearers movements, interests, waiting times and – spending habits.  What price that data if you are running a theme park, or following up with merchandise offers, or holiday deals, months after their visit?  I think the Americans would say ‘Boom!’ about now.

Another example – Virgin Atlantic 787 aircraft and cargo devices use IoT to track packages and aircraft maintenance.  Most of the aircraft components use IoT to monitor and report status back to Virgin Engineering.  Each flight creates half a Terabyte of data.

The devices can be very smart, our printers and copiers are able to anticipate problems.  In the past the first sign of trouble would be when a machine failed.  Now, smart devices monitor their own health and call for maintenance before failures occur.  The first you would know about this is when the engineer turns up in reception to change a part, low cost, minimal disruption – your business carries on ‘as usual’.

Great isn’t it?  And we are only really bound by our imagination and coming up with new exciting ways to apply the developing technology.  Another example, Milton Keynes Council, the OU and BT have joined forces to build the UK’s first city-wide, open access network for machine to machine (M2M) communications, and the Internet of Things.  The point being to help make Milton Keynes more sustainable, now THAT’s an audacious goal.  How does it work? The network connects many devices that could be used for many things from monitoring car parking spaces, energy and water consumption to checking when rubbish bins need emptying.  And did it work?  Well, it’s an ‘award’ winning project, 2015 Best of Show prize at the Barcelona VMWorld Europe User Awards.

And our businesses can benefit too.  Intelligent Offices are upon us.  Smart Phones, Smart Watches, Smart Lighting, Thermostats, Camera’s, Access Control are common place.  Add more data driven devices, IoT sensors for example, and the FM people can optimise every aspect of our office life.  IoT is at the vanguard of the next development in Human-Computer Interaction.  Here we are, back with the Data and our imagination.

Want another example?  How about the Internet of Cows!  We are serious, another BT project monitoring the location of cows, to prevent theft … now say sorry for laughing.

And as we say, IoT isn’t an idea seen in Star Trek, it’s here, now – Printers and Copiers that just keep working, calling for their own maintenance and support, all you need to do is, load paper, toner and …. Print and Copy.  Want to know more about smart devices for your office?  We are here to serve you.