This article was first published onblog.nordicsemi.com
Cities around the world are experiencing a period of rapid expansion. According to the United Nations (UN), 57 percent of people already live in urban areas - and this is set to increase to almost 70 percent by 2050.
In the time it takes you to read this blog, approximately 40,000 new IoT devices will connect to the Internet. At that rate, by 2030, we will have 30 billion connected IoT devices worldwide, or so Statista predicts. The numbers are huge, but to paraphrase software company Intuit co-founder Scott Cook, we’re still in the first minute of the first day of the IoT revolution. You ain’t seen nothing yet.
While the average man or woman on the street may still not yet heard of the “Internet of Things”—a term first coined 24 years ago by British computer scientist Kevin Ashton—the reality is it’s changing the world every day, in almost every way. From sustainability, healthcare, and education to our homes, places of work and social lives, the IoT is having an impact on us all in untold ways. Here are some of the wireless IoT applications that could, should, and are, changing our world.
Human beings have certain basic needs. We must have food, water, air, and shelter to survive. The lucky ones amongst us take these needs for granted, but not everyone is so fortunate. At least 345 million people face high levels of food insecurity, according to the World Food Programme, and by 2050, we will have a billion more mouths to feed than we do now.
Food loss and waste occurs throughout the supply chain. According to a Coresight study, farms contribute 21 percent of food waste, processing 14 percent, food service and retail 28 percent, and consumers waste as much as 37 percent of the food they buy.
To address farming losses cellular IoT wireless connectivity supported by AI and analytics is providing farmers a detailed picture of their crops and livestock using a combination of connectivity solutions including sensors, autonomous machines, and drones. Drones can be used for crop health monitoring and disease detection, while autonomous robots can scan harvests from the ground level for signs of pests, weeds, or disease. Meanwhile machine learning (ML) algorithms and GNSS positioning are being used to develop self-driving harvesting machinery, significantly boosting yields and reducing harvesting losses.
At the retail level, a recent study from U.C. San Diego’s Rady School of Management found dynamic pricing could reduce food waste from grocery retailers by 21 percent. Bluetooth LE-powered shelf labels and cellular IoT Cloud-connected gateways have enabled dynamic pricing by applying an algorithm that determines when the price of perishables should be lowered based on their expiration date, and automatically applying the revised price using wireless connectivity direct to the shelf.
Wearable tech has come a long way in 10 years. Today’s wearables powered by sophisticated wireless SoCs are multifunctional devices that can not only provide fitness motivation but also have the ability to play a valuable clinical role. Ironically, to some extent, we have the pandemic to thank for the development of high-end healthcare wearables, but now these devices are playing a vital role in the prevention and management of a host of other diseases from diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea through to neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. Soon enough, high-end SoCs and SiPs running ML routines will enable wearables to rapidly establish health data anomalies, and seamlessly relay the data via the Cloud to our doctors resulting in rapid clinical decisions.
In the education sector, wireless tech is both democratizing learning and simultaneously addressing the digital skills gap. We need more coders, engineers and tech innovators, and devices such as the BBC micro:bit are supporting the next generation of digital innovators. The micro:bit program was launched in 2015, and with a million wireless chips donated by Nordic Semiconductor, the program was up and running. Since then, the tiny yet powerful programmable pocket computers have found their way into the hands of 39 million children in over 60 countries, across every continent. The 11 and 12 year olds that received the first micro:bits are now at university age, and soon we will see these pioneers enter our workforce equipped with the digital coding skills their predecessors lacked.
The IoT might be able to transform our food supply, health, and education, but all of that is pointless without a sustainable planet to live on. And there, arguably, wireless connectivity is making a more telling contribution than in any other domain. Wireless connectivity is providing answers to illegal deforestation, waste management, pollution control, electric vehicles, and ecosystem protection just for starters.
Whether it’s customized cellular IoT devices installed on construction vehicles to prevent illegal logging, smart bins in cities employing optical sensors to better allocate rubbish collection and overflow, connected air quality and climate monitoring solutions to provide authorities with data to help manage traffic and emissions, or Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, and cellular IoT connectivity helping electric vehicle (EV) charging companies manage the complex EV ecosystem to boost clean transport, wireless connectivity is now everywhere, and promising a smarter, greener way to protect our precious planet.