Almost all of us drive automatic cars. Why do we have a manual Internet of Things?

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This article was written by Mathieu Hoffmann, Customer Success Manager at Wiliot, a Sensing-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform company.

According to CarMax, 97% of American drivers drive automatic cars. This share is lower in other parts of the world, but even in the UK, for example, sales of automatic cars have more than doubled in recent years and now represent the majority of new cars on the road.

It’s good technology. Automatic cars rely on sensors to change gears, rather than a manual shifter and clutch. They are easier to drive. And with more and more automatic electric cars rolling off the assembly lines, the days of manual transmissions seem numbered.

Automation is good. Things tend to work better the less we rely on human intervention. We expect the Internet of Things to reflect this, with products and materials communicating wirelessly to enable a range of digital applications, from food tracing and asset tracking to monitoring. medication adherence. But until now, IoT has been a largely manual exercise, characterized by RFID tags, QR codes, and scanners. People are expected to forge the connection between the Internet and things through a series of taps and scans, and build an infrastructure of communications interfaces more expensive than they need to be.

For better supply chains, truly smart buildings, greater sustainability, and an Internet of Everything rather than the Internet of Expensive Things, a new standalone IoT is needed.

Create an overview of everyday products for good

Earlier this year, during a test of various IoT technologies, The Sustainability Consortium, in collaboration with Arizona State University, published a study on the feasibility of using digital labels to measure the use of clothing throughout its lifecycle. The aim was to promote more sustainable production and consumption of clothing through better information on durability, longevity, repairability and reuse.

The Sustainability Consortium found that digital labels in clothing – NFC (near field communication), QR codes, RFID (radio frequency identification) and Bluetooth tags – could measure their use to a positive effect, and that consumers would find positive effects. value by accessing the data. from labeled clothing. The challenge, however, lies in the way the data is collected. The study’s authors wrote: “Until a passive system is technologically and economically feasible, incentives will need to be developed for people to reliably engage over a period of time. In other words, today’s IoT technologies require too much manual intervention to take full advantage of such a system.

These current IoT technologies, including RFID, NFC and QR codes, have taken us a long way. But on the outskirts of IoT – clothes in people’s closets, food in their refrigerators, medical supplies throughout the healthcare system – IoT is still dark. Companies have made great strides in using IoT technologies for things like vehicles, appliances, shipping containers, building systems… the expensive Internet of Things. But they’ve only just started taking on the challenge of connecting raw materials, finished products, product packaging, and most of the things around us to the Internet of Everything. This type of connectivity requires a standalone IoT, based on ubiquitous technologies like Bluetooth and cloud solutions.

How to connect the billions

The evolution from the expensive Internet of Things, measured in tens of billions of connected objects, to the Internet of Things, which includes trillions of goods and materials, requires not only cheap and produced digital labels. in series, but also a communication infrastructure with an infinity of climbing.

The labels needed are disposable, near-zero cost, Bluetooth-enabled IoT stickers to keep everything smart. The elements that IoT stickers are affixed to become aware of their own location, condition and environment, communicating this information to a cloud-based sensing platform. The infrastructure is made up of all the Bluetooth radios in existence today, with more coming online every hour. Most people don’t carry an RFID scanner with them to initiate IoT communications. But they’re carrying what amounts to an always-on Bluetooth scanner, their smartphone. In addition, our homes are starting to fill up with bluetooth-connected devices, including smart speakers, security cameras, and even our refrigerators and washing machines.

The Autonomous Internet of Everything works like Apple’s new AirTag device, which communicates its location through a large existing network of nearby hotspots and Bluetooth-enabled iPhones. All of these wireless radios act as scanner-sensors, and the more able they are to read and communicate information from an AirTag or IoT sticker, the more accurate and reliable they can be on everything from location of a product at its temperature. And once initiated, communication is automatic.

The intelligence of everything

Wiliot believes that this autonomous Internet of everything – this intelligence of everything – marks the beginning of detection as a service (SaS). Once the trillions of goods and materials now ‘obscure’ for IoT, without detection or connectivity, begin to communicate securely through IoT stickers and distributed sensor networks based on artificial intelligence, industries around the world will gain unprecedented insight into their operations, supply chains, customers, and more.

For example, products gain intelligence during manufacturing thanks to IoT stickers; stickers monitor temperature sensitive items from distribution to retailers to consumers; they allow item-level visibility in stores to ensure shelves remain stocked and consumers are engaged in real time; and finally, the products people use every day come to life and communicate encrypted and secure information about usage and condition, ultimately helping us reduce, reuse and recycle. A technology, secure and private, offering value throughout the life of the products.

Going forward, brands and retailers, including food and beverage companies and others, will benefit from continuous insight and SaS. Supply chains will evolve into demand chains, with real-time monitoring, consumer analytics, traceability, and more. Pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers will automatically have access to information about drugs, vaccines and supplies to ensure authenticity, proper condition and handling, and efficient shipment.

The Internet of Things has brought us here. Now, an autonomous Internet of Everything will be needed to generate the intelligence companies need to constantly reinvent themselves.

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