After spending quite a bit of time in the conventional manufacturing sector and having spent most of my career in modernizing Supply Chains for large companies, last year I shifted my focus to something entirely new – the world of sensors and data which propelled into the exciting world of Internet of Things (popularly known as IoT). The story of my involvement with these increasingly popular technological tools began when my own metal export business took a hit owing to the global fluctuations in the economy. It forced me to search for an alternative business sector which may look lucrative enough for me to pursue further.
Over the last couple of years, I had been studying in online magazines about a wonderful ‘new kid on the technological block’ – Internet of Things, popularly known as IoT. However, at that time my half-baked knowledge of IoT largely remained confined to the stories, talks and lectures that I accessed on internet. But as time progressed and my interest grew, I started giving this emerging field a serious thought.
What is IoT
According to Wikipedia, the Internet of things (IoT) is the extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects. Embedded with electronics, Internet connectivity, and other forms of hardware (such as sensors), these devices can communicate and interact with others over the Internet, and they can be remotely monitored and controlled.
The definition of the Internet of things has evolved due to the convergence of multiple technologies, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems. Traditional fields of embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, control systems, automation (including home and building automation), and others all contribute to enabling the Internet of things.
In the consumer market, IoT technology is most synonymous with products pertaining to the concept of the “smart home”, covering devices and appliances (such as lighting fixtures, thermostats, home security systems and cameras, and other home appliances) that support one or more common ecosystems, and can be controlled via devices associated with that ecosystem, such as smartphones and smart speakers.
From Manufacturing to IoT
For me, the transition from manufacturing to IoT was a gradual shift as at first, I started learning about this technology by reading online articles, watching DIY videos and then getting to know more from scholarly articles how IoT is expected to transform our lives in the future. Then, towards the end of 2017, I traveled to San Francisco, the most happening place for geeks and all the incredibly nerdy people. There I got a chance to see some of the things first hand and my decision was made. Once I got more convinced about the usability and future of this relatively new technology, I started exploring the real-world applications of IoT.
Luckily, a couple of young friends of mine whom I knew for a long time, had already got their hands dirty after experimenting with this technology. They were able to successfully build up a business of smart environmental monitoring solutions with the help of this newly gained knowledge of sensors and IoT. When I joined hands with them things looked pretty exciting to me and I started getting more and more involved with their fledging ventures, NextSense Technologies and E&E Solutions.
The Promise of IoT
IoT is so vast that it can virtually be applied to almost any field. To start with, it has already seen a lot of industrial applications in manufacturing, retail, environment, meteorology, defence, transport, construction, education, healthcare as well as smart home automation and much more.
Currently we are focusing on industrial IoT applications especially environmental sector, for example, air quality monitoring, weather monitoring and groundwater level recorder. These applications are mainly useful in oil and gas, cement, healthcare, hospitality industry as well as a few other sectors.
Our plan is to expand into broader areas such as smart cities and smart home solutions in the near future. The good thing is that the combined revenues with our environmental and IoT businesses already touching US$1.5 million, we have turned profitable in a short period of time. Now, the next step is to aim for external funding so that we can scale up quickly. The opportunity simply looks huge but at the same time, our young team needs to take the right decisions at the right moment.
As I take the baby steps into this new and exciting world, I am learning new things at each step. This keeps me motivated and I am looking ahead towards a greatly exciting future in IoT. Over the course of time, what I plan to do is to merge my existing skillset with this newly acquired knowledge of IoT to think of better solutions.