A future driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) is near.
From automated cars, talking fridges and sound-integrated football fields, IoT is finally gaining a real footing in both residential and commercial spaces that will have a noticeable impact on the way we live and do business.
For me, the IoT path has been a journey just about as winding as the road the IT industry has taken to make IoT look less like ad-hoc solutions serving limited individual needs and more like integrated systems creating truly smart spaces. I began programming and coding in the eighth grade and was always curious about how devices worked and gained early experience in connecting one device to another to understand the process of how they functioned and to collect data that might be used to make them work even better.
Now, with the cloud becoming ubiquitous and processors getting powerful to allow us to ingest data at previously unheard-of rates, the same rudimentary engineering I did as a youth has become commonplace at today’s intelligent edge. I didn’t know what to call it at the time – today’s it’s IoT.
Recently, our Digital Innovation team at Insight worked with a high-end appliance manufacturer. The client wanted to know if it was possible to connect appliances to create a more seamless user experience throughout a kitchen or home. We started out by defining the vision and creating a proof of concept. We took a couple of data points and sought to connect them wirelessly while considering security needs (after all, no one wants a hacker turning on their stove or messing with the temperature in their refrigerator to have their food spoil or, even worse, their home burn down). After this, tons of ideas came into play.
Here’s a typical at-home scenario: Your kitchen appliances are connected to your favorite cooking site, with the ability to process recipes. As you take vegetables from the fridge to prepare them for cooking, the refrigerator takes note of what you’ve removed and adds it to your grocery list. It takes 5 minutes to preheat the oven and 10 minutes to prepare. While you’re chopping the vegetables, the smart kitchen system asks if you want the oven preheated, and you simply respond yes or no. Just like that, life at home is made easier.
In these types of solutions, you must understand what the purpose of an IoT-connected device is in order to produce it at scale. We help our clients understand the potentially deeper value of an IoT solution and how it could create even greater business and quality-of-life outcomes.
Even in production, we’re working on scaling out the amount of data that can be collected. We can use that data to help our customers understand how their devices work, when there’s a maintenance issue, why it fails, and what the conditions were to cause it. Raw data becomes actionable intelligence to give the customer a holistic view that optimizes device performance and the interaction with the people or other smart devices tapped into them.
It’s bringing new ideas to life like this that makes me eager to explore further innovations in IoT. How can we continuously evolve our daily lives through new technology? If a smart refrigerator can open doors to feed our souls – or at least make meals faster and better – imagine what doors will open when our entire cities are connected to run smarter.
Amol Ajgaonkar, chief architect of IoT at Insight Enterprises, contributed to the Arizona Technology Council’s Smart Cities + IoT Conference as an IoT expert during a panel discussion on “From Proof of Concept to Deployment.” He has more than 15 years of experience successfully implementing technology for business outcomes, specializing in architecting and implementing IoT solutions for manufacturing and other industry segments.