In the past decade, smart technology has pierced through nearly every industry on the planet. IoT, or the Internet of Things, has been reshaping the entire tech ecosystem by allowing seamless connectivity between billions of devices, ranging from small household items like toasters, all the way to large consumer and industrial devices such as vehicles and aeroplanes—and even cities.
Thanks to this new wave of tech innovations, our lives become easier. Plenty of things around us get smarter and more connected day by day, and this trend is likely to continue dynamically in the near future. The Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, ChatBots and Cloud Technology, among others, are all reshaping the world, but in this article, we’ll focus on the impact IoT is having on us.
What Is IoT, Exactly?
In short, The Internet of Things refers to a connected network of physical objects, ranging from ordinary items to sophisticated tools that are equipped with sensors in order to collect and transfer data over a wireless network (the internet) without human intervention.
The term “The Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton in a presentation to Procter & Gamble in 1999. Ashton is a co-founder of MIT’s Auto-ID Lab and pioneered the use of RFID in supply-chain management. IoT gained popularity around 2014 when the first wearables reached the mass public, including Pebble Watch, Misfit, Jawbone, and even Google Glass.
The Internet of Things Over the Years
A decade ago, the idea of having everyday objects connected to the Internet with the possibility to control them remotely seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie. The thought of having objects be smart enough to make independent decisions and adapt their behaviour to certain situations seemed out of reach. Fast-forward a few years and here we are, more connected than ever. IoT reached new levels of “wow-ness,” especially in the past 5 years, both in terms of innovation and revenue. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic boosted the growth of IoT exponentially.
Now, billions of devices are connected to the internet, collecting and sharing real-time data autonomously. According to a 2020 acceleration trend report by IoT Analytics, there are now more than 11 billion devices in the world connected to the internet. IoT Analytics detailed in the report that they estimate this number to increase to 30 billion by 2025. Moreover, a Global Market Trajectory & Analytics report showcases that the IoT market was estimated at $152 billion in 2020 worldwide, and is poised to reach a whopping $1 trillion by 2027.
Connectivity between devices and digital intelligence is crucial, and companies are readjusting their operations in response to current demands, as well as focusing their efforts on perfecting remote access and automation processes. As numerous reports suggest, the IoT market is anticipated to expand across all industries, from home automation to the retail sector and hospitality, all the way to healthcare, agritech, security, the automotive industry, as well as manufacturing and financial services.
Smart Assistants – How Can I Be of Assistance?
When Amazon’s Alexa was launched in 2014, it widened the smart assistant IoT category for the upcoming years tremendously, with various companies trying to develop similar devices. These voicy devices seem to have come into our lives swiftly, offering us a new alternative to surf the web and give commands through voice. What’s great about smart assistants is that you can use them for a variety of tasks, including basic Google searches, playing music, setting reminders, asking about the weather, as well as communicating with other people by calling and sending text messages—all this through voice commands. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Although smart assistants were first developed in the 60s by IBM, they have clearly evolved a lot since then when it comes to personalization. Since Alexa’s main feature is to communicate, it has been proved that it can be quite useful for old people with dementia, by answering repeated questions, telling jokes, riddles, and more.
Voice Assistants are Taking Over the Market
There’s a huge demand for voice assistants like Alexa. A Market Research Future report details that the global voice assistant market valuation stood at $1.7 billion in 2010. The market is projected to reach $7.3 billion by 2023, which equates to a 24% growth. The same report indicates that the number of voice assistants in U.S. homes has increased to 25 million in 2020, and is projected to reach a whopping 275 million by 2023. The conclusion? Better start getting used to talking to objects around the house.
Let’s face it, we all want a voice assistant that fits our personal wishes, whims, and habits. All of this is possible nowadays with the rise of Big Data, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence. And this is where Olly, the world’s first robot with a personality, comes in.
Olly, the World’s First Robot with a Personality
Olly was built by Emotech, a U.K. startup that emerged from the research departments at UCL. The startup is on a mission to bring the best talent from AI, Neuroscience, Engineering, Robotics, Design, and Animation under the same roof and do something amazing in this complex space of personal assistants. They want to build devices with which we can truly connect and understand. Alongside their backend team, we designed and built the app that helps you interact with your personal Olly.
As the motto implies, Olly is the first home robot with an evolving personality – it loves to express itself through sound, color, or movement. The technology is designed to allow Olly to learn how to adapt to you.
Olly’s available features are:
- Vision-enhanced natural voice interaction – it can proactively start a conversation;
- Scene understanding – it uses vision to enhance the beam-forming microphone by visually analyzing the surrounding environment;
- Expressive Visual Interaction System – communicates with you through a custom-built circular LED display;
- Emotional character engine – Olly can understand your facial expressions, vocal intonations, and verbal patterns. This allows it to move and talk to you in an unprecedented way;
- Multimodal user recognition – Olly recognizes you by voice and by image;
- Activity recognition – Olly acknowledges what you’re doing and can also learn the intention behind it.
These are the functions of the mobile app:
- The onboarding screen – where you can see a history of what you have talked with Olly;
- The connected devices – here you can pair it with any IoT devices you have at home, from toasters to the thermostat or even the (smart) light bulb;
- The ‘My Rules’ tab – you can choose a proactive Olly, who can greet you when he sees you, tell you the weather, or turn on the connected devices;
- The ‘Profile & Feedback tab’ – for you to add personal details and send feedback in case something goes wrong.
Mind you, the main purpose of the Olly experience is to use it for whatever you need by using voice commands, with a minimum usage of the mobile app.
Connectivity is Driving the Future of Automotive
Vehicles are becoming incredibly complex as time passes, but for drivers, things are becoming much simpler. While self-driving cars are still in the realms of labs and testing, manufacturers can still make smart cars. With the rapid advancements in technology, car manufacturers are able to offer impressive features and services when it comes to their vehicles.
As cities are becoming more and more congested, the need for smarter solutions is evident. Automatic parking, driving assistance, and re-routing options are just a few of the IoT building blocks for future solutions when it comes to vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and even vehicle-to-everything communication.
Companies are already fine-tuning existing IoT tech to improve both the speed of mobile communications and the technology inside connected vehicles. In the not-so-far-away future, connected transport infrastructure and autonomous driving will completely change the way people think about mobility, as well as how smart cities operate.
The Global Automotive IoT Market
According to a report by GSMA, more than 500 million connected cars will be on the road by 2025. Moreover, connected vehicle services will be worth $81 billion by 2030, making the connected vehicle market one of the highest growth areas when it comes to IoT.
More importantly, the connected vehicle market will greatly improve the safety and wellbeing of citizens and drivers. The same report details that by 2025, connected cars could save 11,000 lives and lead to 260,000 fewer accidents every year.
Hudly – Drive Smarter
Aside from the driverless cars that will soon be expected on the market, giants of the auto vehicle industry work on using IoT technology to prevent ignition starting if the driver’s alcohol levels are past limit, thus avoiding potential accidents, for example.
When it comes to driving safer, GetHudly adapted the technology used by fighter pilots for safer navigation of cars, including an IoT-based Head-up Display (HUD), targeting drivers in the U.S. It’s controlled through an application that mirrors navigation, the vehicle’s overall health (through an OBDII dongle), the speedometer, where you can set a maximum driving speed, as well as music.
Since the purpose of the HUD is to not distract you from the road, you can activate two of these options through the app, with the help of a toggle switch. Also, there is the option to mirror incoming calls and texts. In addition, the Vehicle Health monitor shows a plethora of information, including the RPM, coolant, throttle, fuel, and more. The app also has voice integration, so you can ask Hudly to show the pre-set navigation routes, and to change the music.
Urban & Sustainable Mobility – IoT-enabled Smart Cities
Although we’re slowly starting to live in a technological utopia, traffic congestions are still a serious problem—especially in large and extremely populated cities. Stalled traffic not only harms the environment by poisoning the air with large amounts of toxins, but it also causes frustrations, delays, and serious mobility issues.
Fortunately, many cities around the world are working hard at eliminating these issues by tapping into IoT technology, and leveraging its capabilities as much as possible. When it comes to smart cities, we’re not only talking about saving energy through lights and available chargers; we’re also talking about using IoT connectivity data to decongest roads and provide better commutes.
Intelligent transportation systems, smart parking options, connected public transportation and traffic video surveillance are all significant steps toward increased mobility and sustainability. Additionally, smart lightning, smart waste collection and recycling, as well as utility vehicle monitoring play huge roles when talking about smart cities.
Cities Today details a report by IoT Analytics, which is based on a survey of 50 decision-makers from 31 cities, that connected public transport has a 74% implementation rate in those particular locations. The report shows that 72% of cities have solutions for traffic monitoring and management, as well as water level and flood monitoring, and video surveillance and analytics. In addition, 68% percent have adopted connected streetlights.
Take a RIDE on an Environmentally-friendly Scooter
If everyone on the planet starts practicing environmentally-friendly ways to travel, slowly we can start seeing significant improvements. Take RIDE for example, an electric scooter ride-sharing setup in Australia, for which we’ve built the app. By using the product, users can register as riders to rent scooters for last-mile trips, or sign up as chargers, to collect low-battery scooters, charge them, and earn money.
RIDE has set itself up as an environmentally-friendly company. All scooters are electric and have zero emissions, decommissioned scooters are recycled and parts that cannot be recycled, are disposed of in a sustainable way. As a registered user, you can see all available scooters in your area, and unlock them with your smartphone. The app also tracks your trip and invoices you once you end the trip and lock the scooter.
Using alternative transportation options like RIDE help the environment tremendously, and small IoT vehicles should be implemented in as many cities as possible. The RIDE app also provides a map of areas where you are allowed to use an electric scooter and a timeline of when riding an electric scooter is forbidden.
As we were finishing up the app, we also added a more secure way the user can rent an electric scooter. We implemented a new scooter unlocking functionality based on code scanning. Behind this entire user experience sits a web admin console, that is connected to all the major parts of the operations. This allows the operational department to manage users, track electric scooters, see all the major metrics and change elements of content.
Building Intelligently With the Help of Drone Connectivity
When you think about it, it’s quite amazing how much synergy there is between IoT, drones and construction. With the help of drones, we are able to take ultra-high resolution photos and accurate data of various construction sites, thus replacing very costly and time-consuming site surveying efforts. As technology advances, we can perform a multitude of scans on these sites for a myriad of information, including hazard analysis, precise measurements, and more.
With the help of IoT, this information gets sent to the user in real-time, having instant access to key data from their mobile phone. From scanning construction sites to planning military operations, drones have become essential items for many companies over the years. These unmanned aerial vehicles completely changed the dynamics of surveying and documenting key areas.
The commercial drone market is one of the fastest growing and innovative sectors of IoT. According to a report by IoT Analytics, spendings on drone-related hardware, software and services for both commercial and private markets is forecast to grow 20.5% per year until 2024, surpassing $43.1 billion.
Tap2Map – Capture and Process Aerial Photos
We had the opportunity to work on an app that would allow the user to perform multiple types of surveying and scans with a drone. Tap2Map is a 3D flight planner for DJI drones, made for professional surveyors to collect aerial imagery, following basic photogrammetric airborne survey rules.
With Tap2Map, users can easily define the mapped terrain, plan their drone flight way or import a pre-existing plan, track the drone as it surveys the terrain, and export the photos to the preferred third-party software. The main functionalities of the product are visible in the main navigation menu of the app, where you can find the action screens, the project list, flight logs, and the app’s settings.
The construction business is following suit of the many other industries that are embracing eco-friendly work methods. Construction efficiency has always been crucial, and with drones and apps like Tap2Map, it can actually feel like having an extra pair of hands on the job—or better yet, an extra pair of wings.
It’s safe to say that The Internet of Things is present across all industries, and real-time data sharing and connectivity can ease a multitude of processes in almost any situation. Interconnectivity is a big opportunity for businesses going through a digital transformation process, and it’s very important to acknowledge that mobility is not limited to mobile devices.
With IoT products, it’s highly recommended to think outside the box and imagine interesting scenarios on how a connected device and an app can help ease daily processes, workload or creative work.
Our team at Tapptitude is always happy to share their experience of working on IoT and associated verticals, to help you build a proof of concept, de-risk your product and set up your startup for long term success. While the challenges of building an IoT product and any associated mobile applications can be difficult to navigate, our setup as a fully-functional and hands-on team allows us to work side by side with product teams of all sizes. We’re always open to chat about your IoT startup.
It’s important for us to start each project being fully aligned – so sharing ownership over the product’s success and starting out with a product definition process is normal for us. We’ve adapted our processes to tools and tech stacks of all types, and we’ve never backed down from any challenge once the teams are committed.
A contributing writer at Tapptitude, Robert has a strong passion for technology and a sharp eye for detail. His research skills and tech-savvy approach to any topic guarantee that no stone is left unturned before he puts pen to paper. When he’s not juggling words on a screen, he is usually lost in a video game or movie, or playing his guitar. Robert’s greatest enemy is the blank page.