The Internet of Things has been much hyped, but the number of mainstream applications remains limited. There has been plenty of industry buzz surrounding connected cars and IoT thermostats, but away from automobiles and smart homes, many other industries are quietly getting to grips with the technology. Although some businesses remain tentative about the Internet of Things, rightly exercising caution regarding security and privacy worries, more agile startups are already preparing for a more connected future.

[easy-tweet tweet=”CTC is talking #Connected farms and lesser known #IoT uses with @BSquared90 ” user=”comparethecloud”]

One of the less obvious industries beginning to embrace the Internet of Things is agriculture. With the convenience provided by the modern supermarket it is easy to forget the complex processes needed to transfer masses of crops from field to fork. In less developed countries, the agricultural industry is even more perilous and technological innovation is likely to prove necessary in order to meet the  food demands of a global population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. The “Towards Smart Farming” report, issued last year by Beecham Research, found that the Internet of Things, combined with big data analytics, would enable farmers to gain more detailed insights about their crops, optimising efficiency and maximising productivity.

the move towards smart farming is being encouraged through various projects and programmes

“In Europe, the move towards smart farming is being encouraged through various projects and programmes funded by public and private money. These include EU initiatives and projects at a national level,” says Saverio Romeo, principal analyst at Beecham Research and joint author of the report. “While the M2M agricultural sector is still emerging, M2M and IoT technologies will be key enablers for transforming the agricultural sector and creating the smart farming vision.”

Already, a number of agricultural firms are trialling IoT technology. Hahn Estate Winery is utilising IoT sensors, alongside overhead drones, to combat ongoing drought in the US state of California. By collecting data on pathogens, moisture levels, humidity and a number of other metrics, agricultural firms like Hahn Estate can boost production levels. Other examples of IoT crop monitoring are also being employed in cocoa farms in Indonesia, connected farms located entirely within shipping containers and many other places all over the world. There are so many factors that contribute to the success or failure of a particular crop and by using the Internet of Things, farmers are gaining better visibility and control.

[easy-tweet tweet=”#IoT crop monitoring is giving farmers more insight into the successes and failures of their crops”]

The Internet of Things is also making a major impact on the healthcare industry. Connected devices are not only expected to give medical practitioners greater insight into the wellbeing of their patients, they are also predicted to put greater emphasis on self-care. For example, the Philips Medication Dispensing Service automates the pill taking process so that patients can manage their medication when at home. The device is connected to the user’s phone line and issues an alert if it’s time to take their medication or if it needs refilling. Similarly, UroSense automatically measures body temperature and urine output for catheterised patients, allowing doctors to diagnose potentially life threatening conditions faster than previously possible.

In addition, the growth of wearable technology is also helping to provide healthcare services with vital information. Monitoring vital signs can give loved ones peace of mind that elderly family members are healthy or simply keep doctors abreast of your wellbeing. Whether from smart wristbands or connected appliances, The Internet of Things promises to harvest and store vast quantities of information about our bodies. When coupled with analytics programs, doctors may be able to use this data to reduce the time it takes to diagnose and treat patients, ultimately saving lives. 

the future benefits of IoT devices could be broader than we previously envisioned

Although the Internet of Things will certainly bring advantages to the automotive, finance, marketing and home appliance industries, other business sectors also stand to benefit. In fact, both agriculture and healthcare are already demonstrating that the future benefits of IoT devices could be broader than we previously envisioned.