Apps That Will Drive the IoT

    New technology is a vital tool for the enterprise, but its real value stems from what it can do for you, not what it’s made of.

    This holds true for the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), which comprises a long list of some the most advanced technologies ever created. In the end, however, it is the applications that will make or break the IoT, not the sensors or analytics or even the artificial intelligence. So in that vein, it’s probably worth our while to see what kinds of applications are already up and running and what is likely to emerge in the future.

    Already, the IoT is having a major impact on industries ranging from finance and health care to manufacturing and transportation. Among the services that has compiled are such well-known tools as intelligent traffic cams and stop lights that will one day support the smart city with improved traffic management and service delivery. As well, new wearable applications like glucose monitors and heart-rate devices should improve our health and, perhaps, even lower our health insurance premiums.

    At the same time, businesses ranging from farms to the latest high-tech firms will benefit from the improved logistics, quality control, process management and other advantages that come from monitoring data points throughout complex infrastructure to weed out inefficiencies and reveal hidden opportunities.

    Perhaps nothing will help bring the IoT into the mainstream of modern society more than its impact on the home, however.’s list of the coolest emerging apps includes the smart toothbrush, equipped with sensors to improve oral health, and the child/pet finder, should they wander (or be taken) from the home. As well, get ready for smart shelves and smart refrigerators that keep tabs on what you have and what you need to get on your next shopping trip, and even smart shoes and clothing that can change color, designs and other features on-demand and even be used to contact friends, call ride-share services and perform other tasks.

    Perhaps the strangest list, however, is found on Design News, which highlights such odd creations as the Bed Bug Catcher, which captures and kills the nasty creatures in the home or in hotels and then notifies the owner to take preventive measures. For new parents, there is the Yucky Diaper Sensor that alerts mom or dad that someone needs to be changed. And from Japanese food company Nissin comes the Otohiko Fork, which provides noise-cancelling technology and cell-phone connectivity so you can slurp your noodles as loudly as you like without bothering nearby diners.

    This is only the beginning of what will probably become the next big phase of development. Already, companies like Amazon are launching IoT-targeted coding environments that are easy to set up and utilize. The company’s IoT SiteWise platform, for instance, enables industrial-scale data collection, conditioning and search, while the Events module provides tools to detect and respond to sensor and application streams. These can be used in conjunction with the Things Graph tool that manages the interaction between devices, and the Greengrass Connectors system to bring in third-party applications, services and software.

    As these and other platforms become increasingly automated and empowered with AI-driven chatbots and other tools, we could very well be on the verge of an era when literally anyone, even young children, can create and deploy apps with no technological experience whatsoever.

    Going forward, the IoT is bound to provide a rich ecosystem of services – some silly, some life-saving. It will be a challenge to adjust to this new world, although those of us who have had our fill of millennial techy smugness will sit back and laugh as they struggle to understand their own IoT-savvy children.

    One thing is certain, however: It won’t be boring.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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