The Internet of Things, a great network of smart devices working together to become more than the sum of their parts, continues to change our daily lives in plenty of big and small ways.
One can look at the IoT devices in their personal life, like fitness trackers or smart appliances, and assume that’s the extent of the tech — far from it! In truth, many niches have developed independently. Individuals and companies from a plethora of industries have found ingenious ways in which connected devices, managed through specialized apps, can make their work and lives easier.
To present how diverse IoT solutions can be, let’s quickly have a look at some examples of products we’ve directly worked on at Wolfpack Digital: Storyball - an IoT product that combines a mobile app with a physical toy ball dressed in various skins to entertain and educate children and keep them away from screens, GoalPlay - smart goalkeeper glove that sends personalized advice and exercises to athletes' phones based on their performance (this is one of Oliver Kahn’s projects), or PowerMedic - an IoT tablet app connected to a hyperlaser used in a wide range of medical therapies, including recovery after injury, acupuncture, dentistry, and even fertility treatments. In short, there's a great variety to the IoT.
Let’s focus on the IoT industry as a whole. In 2021, the IoT industry was estimated at $384.70 billion. This year, it is forecast to reach $478.36 billion, and by 2029, $2,465.26. That’s a whopping compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.4% from 2022 to 2029.
One of the top investment management firms, ARK Invest, also predicted exponential growth for the IoT industry. In their annual report called "Big Ideas 2022", the company suggested that the attributable enterprise value for the IoT sector could reach up to $4.6 Trillion by 2030.
The future is full of opportunities and challenges. Still, the big question is how can you and your company benefit from applications that can manage and communicate with physical equipment? In our view, a good first step is looking at the most promising current use cases in your industry and seeing how automation and a combination of software (apps) and hardware can bring improvements and efficiency. This can help inspire the next step!. 🌟As the IoT increases in maturity, it’s finding more and more uses in different markets. New ideas are bound to appear and turn whole verticals on their heads, but we’ll focus on the “now” and show you the most exciting use cases for IoT at the moment. Some of the following points are well established at this moment, while others are still emerging industries. Let’s begin:
Smart devices have proven a great boon in Medtech for many reasons. Chiefly among them is the possibility to continuously monitor biometrics, with the added benefit of a stronger and more informed connection between patients and medical staff.
Telemedicine, or remote diagnosis and treatment of patients, is an excellent example of both benefits. Monitoring devices keep a watchful eye on a person’s health and can act quickly to signal medical emergencies and even begin treatment. It’s also a reliable way for patients and medical staff to communicate regardless of distance, a feature worth its weight in gold during a global pandemic in full swing.
By now, IoT tech that measures blood pressure or blood sugar is pretty widely known. But if you take all the other metrics recorded by biosensors or even regular fitness trackers, add in a powerful app that can process the data and produce actionable insights, then the possibilities are endless. 🙌
Moving away from wearable devices, hospitals also stand to benefit as well. Transmitting test results automatically across several pieces of equipment and centralizing them for the doctors and patients comes to mind. Let’s look at a practical example!
If a patient comes to the hospital due to shortness of breath, the doctors might order a set of blood tests, an X-ray scan of the lungs, and also urine tests to check for certain diseases. By connecting all the necessary medical equipment (in the cloud, for example), doctors can get all the test data as it’s made available and use specialized software to get a complete picture of the patient’s current state. In this case, all concerned parties can receive the relevant data securely, properly formatted, and correlated on their computers or even on their smartphones. Of course, this scenario requires a web and/or mobile app with the appropriate security measures to protect sensitive information and excellent UX to ensure a smooth workflow.
Now let’s look at a couple of other scenarios where IoT can help boost the healthcare experience and make it more efficient.
Placing beacons (small radio transmitters) across large hospitals can help people navigate them easily via their phones. This way, medical staff, patients, and visitors can be where they need to be quickly and efficiently. 🗺️ For hospital staff, native mobile apps would most likely work best, as they can incorporate a large number of useful features besides orientation. For patients, though, a progressive web app is preferable as it doesn’t require any installation, and the user will already be familiar with the browser’s interface.
Something as simple as connecting the lights and heating system to a network means that staff can ensure comfortable conditions while minimizing costs. The option to control a room’s temperature remotely or set it to change automatically once empty can further automate the system. This can work similarly to smart home apps, such as Google Home, or even integrate as separate features to the example native app mentioned above.
On top of that, innovators are still working on entirely new uses for the Internet of Things for Medtech, such as ingestible sensors, smart surgery robots, and devices that detect abnormalities in the brain.
If all this has captured your attention, then you can also check out 4 healthcare app tips for 2022 worth keeping in mind!
Always-on devices that can transmit data via the Internet can increase efficiency and reduce waste in a wide range of industries, but the energy sector stands out here.
For the electricity providers, IoT tech can help with:
In an industry where creating the best results with the fewest costs (fuels, time, or money), the IoT is quickly emerging as an effective solution to many common problems, with smart homes, smart offices, and other smart spaces becoming more and more common.
On the other front are regular people and businesses that consume electricity. Smart meters can reveal wasteful patterns or habits and help us make decisions that save energy. Setting up sensors that control lights and heating can also help everyone prevent needless waste when no one is at the office. Another attractive feature is the option to monitor and control your heating, lighting, and energy consumption straight from your phone via a mobile app. To add extra value, an app can generate personalized advice based on the user’s behavior, helping them reduce costs, for example. 💡
To put that into perspective, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that in 2021 15.5% of the U.S. residential sector electricity consumption went into space cooling, 15.2% went into heating, and 3.9% into lighting. A network of connected devices and technologies can improve all of these figures without negatively affecting the populace.
The manufacturing industry has been one of the biggest investors in smart devices. To give you a bit of perspective, Statista estimated that the industrial IoT market will grow from 216 billion dollars in 2020 to 1,1 trillion in 2028. 💰
So, what benefit does the Internet of Things bring to manufacturers to warrant the investments and changes to their workflow? The short answer is the unprecedented volume of data that one can gather through sensors.
To fully appreciate the full explanation, let’s take a look at the problem: with the incredibly complex manufacturing processes in modern factories, inefficiencies are inevitable and hard to spot. But, by connecting essential machinery to a network, gathering info, and processing the results, we can:
All of the uses mentioned above apply to a single location, but most modern products are built from components sourced from countless factories scattered around the globe. With so many literal moving parts involved, delays and shortages can create a devastating snowball effect.
Or at least that used to be the case.
On the logistics side, vehicles can communicate through GPS, while factories continually monitor their equipment with low-power wide-area networks, and a central HQ can monitor and coordinate all nodes easily through the interface of an application. A complete overview of whole transportation networks leads to better business decisions and lower costs for everyone involved. Courier companies can maximize their cargo and routes while also reducing delivery time.
With enough sensors, a stable network, and a highly advanced app, regular cars can become the fabled self-driving cars we’ve heard about for the past decade. 🏎️ While we’re cautiously optimistic about self-driving cars, it would seem that autonomous truck fleets will be the first to hit the market. As with just about any product, collecting vehicle performance data in real-time can extend their use. Also, even if the cars won’t be driving themselves for quite a while, communicating with each other can help drivers avoid accidents by sending relevant data to their dashboards via automotive embedded software or phones through a dedicated native app.
One last aspect we want to touch on is the use of IoT in public transportation. Connected vehicles offer travelers a whole new plethora of benefits, such as receiving personalized information in real-time, communicating with staff, and accurate vehicle tracking. Transreport is an excellent example that aims to democratize transport and provide a better journey and experience to its passengers across the United Kingdom.
Last but not least on our list, smart cities are a subject near and dear to our hearts. That’s because Cluj-Napoca, where our Wolfden is located, has been awarded as the “Smartest City in Europe”.
Starting from the general idea of making life better for residents, cities have started exploring many different avenues. These include:
Other famous examples of smart cities include Singapore, New York City, San Francisco, London, Barcelona, and Paris.
When looking at modern civil engineering as a whole, technology may play a pivotal role, but the methodologies and concepts behind each decision are just as important at the least. We’d like to highlight an example of such a concept — the 15-minute city.
The basic idea is that every resident has all they need within a 15-minute walking or cycling distance. The challenge is both on the civil engineering front, where vast quantities of data are required for informed decisions, and on the service side, where digitalization is the primary factor in ensuring that whatever isn’t 15 minutes away can be offered online.
What we need to keep in mind about smart cities and the Internet of Things, in general, is that these seemingly small features work together to create a much better experience. Once you add all the benefits, you get human habitats that generate less pollution and use less energy while also catering much better to the needs of its residents. ♻️
This is noticeable once you look at the global smart city market. The top focus area is transportation, the top smart utility is energy, and the top citizen service is smart healthcare — all topics we discussed above.
The Internet has radically changed the way we live, and it continues to do so today. The five use cases we covered will surely see impressive growth in the following years, but who is to say what other areas will go through a digital transformation using IoT?
Of course, there will be plenty of challenges along the way. One of the biggest hurdles will be finding the balance between collecting useful data and being needlessly intrusive. The next will be securing all the information and ensuring that the Internet of Things doesn’t become a hacker’s playground and that the solutions are coherent enough to be easily used together. For that reason, standardization and set protocols are needed.
Now, when all is said and done, let’s get back to the question we posed right at the start — how can you leverage IoT tech for your own product. The five industries presented above are fertile grounds for startups and innovation. But that’s the thing! Your product needs to offer a new or different solution to an existing problem.
Our final advice is to play to your strong suit. If you have experience with a certain sector, problem, or technology, use that knowledge to rise above the existing solutions. Ask yourself: How can automation and certain devices connected to an app help your business or project?
So, do you think this article was useful? Please let us know what else would help you, and feel free to check out how our accumulated knowledge applies to real IoT projects.
And if you’d like our help with an Internet of Things app project, shoot us a message! Until next time! 👐
Stay up to date with the tech solutions we build for startups, scale-ups and companies around the world. Read tech trends and news about what we do besides building apps.