All Things Smart: Where Does IoT Head For?

With over 10,700 attendees, IoT Tech Expo 2018 in London put new questions on the agenda by introducing tracks related to smart cities, connected transportation, and data analytics for IoT and artificial intelligence. Our team shares some insights, real-life implementations, and lessons learned from the conference.

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Cities get smart, so must we

As Rome wasn’t built in a day, so transforming a metropolis into a smart city, obviously, takes time and resources. One of the key thoughts voiced at the Expo reminded that such a grand ambition should be backed up by a thorough plan. In its turn, the plan has to be brought to life in phases, step by step, on a regular basis.

We see many of these steps already in force in our homes, on our streets—making this big screen future happen here and now. Stuffed with sensors of all kinds, our homes are already smart enough to analyze temperature / humidity outside and achieve a satisfying ratio inside. Smart cars use either less or no petrol at all, thus minimizing air pollution.

Spittelau, a waste incineration plant in Vienna, is not only a touristic landmark for its ingenious architecture, but also a power supplier to heat 60,000+ city households yearly.

Start with yourself

While governments and decision makers look for an overall strategy and the means to implement it, citizens should be ready to introduce changes locally. Whatever pathetic it may seem, it all starts with an individual, with a desire to swap old habits for new, healthier ones. So, why not following the example of a Crown Princess of Denmark who takes her children to a kindergarten on a bicycle?

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Source: Press Association Images

In terms of a city, changing a car for a bicycle reduces air pollution, traffic jams, and a number of car accidents on the roads. It means cleaner environment, better transportation, and improved safety. In terms of an individual, it means regular physical activity, which results in a healthier state, less time spent stuck in a jam, less money spent on a car maintenance.

With improvements in personal health, less money would be poured into the healthcare insurance sector, let’s say, which means it can be allocated to the sectors that may trigger even bigger improvements—scientific research to deliver more efficient medication, for instance.

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“What I personally find very important is that IoT solutions should operate in a constant symbiosis with us, people of the planet called Earth,”

says Angelina Moroz, Head of Industrial IoT at HQSoftware.

Just customize it!

The penetration of IoT in almost any possible walk of life and a broad spectrum of industries is naturally pushing away solutions that cover just a particular minimum of the problems faced. For instance, simply gathering and storing data is long ago not enough. Platforms capable of gathering, storing, and analyzing data to recognize patterns, make predictions, and enable predictive maintenance are on the rise as never before.

Though platforms of the kind are provided by such industry giants as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and others, enterprises and organizations of different scale still seek customization. The reasons are quite straightforward in many cases. Some do not want sensitive data to be exposed to risks, some won’t tolerate a mere possibility of a vendor lock-in, some just can’t afford to pay the bill. This is why developing turn-key IoT solutions to meet particular, complex needs is a growing trend.

It’s all about real world

The breakthrough of bare IoT, as well as bare metal, is long gone. The intersection of IoT and artificial intelligence, for instance, is what makes the technology applicable to real-world problems. (And this is what makes technologies fascinating.) In the course of the event, multiple companies showcased solutions that are expected to drive innovation into real life.

John Deere powers agriculture with IoT and AI

For example, John Deere, one of the world leading manufacturers of agricultural machinery, is developing a solution that aims at improving the way we deal with weed or any undesirable plants in the field. A traditional approach of treating unwanted plants is to spray them with herbicides. The problem is that applying herbicides so that it won’t affect the harvest and, eventually, food in our plate is a hard thing to do.

John Deere’s solution is to install cameras right on the arm of a tractor that sprays herbicides. With computer vision algorithms under the hood, the cameras are to distinguish between the crop and undesirable plants, and the system is to point the sprayers directly onto the weeds.

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Source: John Deere

The solution may help to both bring safer food to a table, reduce costs on spraying herbicides, and minimize water consumption by agriculture.

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“IoT is yet another instrument on the gentleman’s set to solve real-world problems,”

as commented by Vasil Tarasevich, CTO of HQSoftware.

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“The agriculture sector is estimated to consume around 70% of the world’s fresh water resources. By implementing IoT solutions, such companies as John Deere help to minimize wasteful water use, as well as reduce water pollution. Can you only imagine how things may have changed dramatically if more and more companies would follow this example?”

wonders Angelina Moroz, Head of Industrial IoT at HQSoftware.

StreetDrone tests self-driving vehicles

One more example is a platform for giving your self-driving initiatives a test-drive. Developed by StreetDrone, the platform is actually a self-driving car based on Renault’s Twizy. Packed with numerous actuators/sensors/cameras/lidars and a powerful computer to process data gathered, the solution enables autonomous teaching, research and development, and testing in the domain of self-driving cars.

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Source: Mickael Hiver

Dilemmas come along

While “think big, start small, scale fast” was one of the dominating talks during the conference, some other concerns were also on the agenda. For instance, efficient management of a vast fleet of IoT components at a place. Engineers face the challenge of building architecture components and elaborating algorithms that won’t contradict each other and enable systems to operate as expected.

Meanwhile, manufacturers face the reality where goods produced have to come with a service. Common example is brick-and-mortar stores versus online shopping. Brands, either a novice on the market or already a century in the game, go online, go mobile to win customer loyalty with special offers available through an app.

In today’s world, being competitive means being able to digitally transform and offer innovative services, and “smart” is a part of it. Take a fridge, for instance. Just keeping food is already not enough. Customers want their fridges to automatically set an optimal temperature, avoid the need to manually defrost, prevent foul smells, warn if food goes off, etc. To make it possible, manufacturers leverage an array of technologies, including IoT, big data, and artificial intelligence.

This was a third consecutive year our team participated in the conference, and we observed a multifold of ideas and real-life implementations inspired by IoT and its intersection with other innovative technologies. So, we believe that such experiments do let a better future settle in.