While most of us know and use the internet in a variety of ways every single day, we also interact on a much more digital level through what’s called the Internet of Things (IoT for short). The Internet of Things is a network where interconnected devices communicate with one another. Through the use of sensors and digital technology, devices are able to remotely connect and share information with one another, which is the broad concept of IoT technology.
Everyday household devices have been revolutionized by the IoT. Consider being able to send data to a printer while in another room or being able to talk hands-free via Bluetooth in your car – this kind of technology represents just the beginning of the new IoT world.
The Internet of Things isn’t a new concept. In 1989, an internet-connected toaster was introduced at the Interop Technology Expo in Las Vegas. Although it was considered a novelty at the time, inventors knew they had stumbled on something with great potential. Twenty five years later, we are standing on the cusp of an interconnectedness that’s never been seen before.
This technology isn’t just for individual consumers — it’s also helping reshape vital industries that at first glance seem far outside the scope of the internet and advanced networking.
Consider, for example, Ambyint, a Calgary-based tech firm that’s brought the advanced technological applications of IoT to Canada’s oil and gas sector. “Ambyint’s technology allows oil and gas producers to not only operate more efficiently, but to also better understand the obstacles in their way to greater efficiency,” Nav Dhunay, President and CEO of Ambyint, explained. “At Ambyint, we’ve created a product that delivers big data analytics to the oil patch, using a device that’s no larger than a cell phone.”
With a long history in developing tech startups, Nav Dhunay believes the possibilities for IoT applications are almost limitless. “These technologies have the potential to transform and modernize a wide span of industries; we’re not just talking about technology-based industries,” said Dhunay.
He also pointed out the ecological benefits that IoT offers. “Better efficiency in the oil and gas sector is a benefit to the environment,” Nav Dhunay added. “Interconnected technology can also radically improve response time in the event of an oil or gas well emergency.”
Through IoT, inherently dangerous industries like mining can also be made much safer than before. Sensors could warn of impending cave-ins and weak points. Mining companies will also have the ability to find the minerals and precious metals they are looking for with more precision and accuracy than ever before. “Mining needs this technology,” writes industry analyst Kelly Prowse in Techvibes. “But, many companies haven’t yet realized the potential for long term cost reductions in ore targeting and processing, energy management and maintenance – key industry woes.”
Early adopters are reaping the benefits of embracing new technology; after all its been shown that big data and IoT systems can reduce energy expenditures by as much as 40 percent. This is an enticing proposition for mining companies who are looking to cut spending across the board, particularly in the current price environment.
Last summer, over 70 industry executives from around the world were surveyed, and the majority of executives reported feeling ‘highly optimistic’ about the future of mining and technology. With total spending on information and communication technologies in the mining sector projected to top $26.1 billion by 2018, their optimism can be further bolstered.
The boundaries to the possibilities of IoT applications are only limited to human creativity. Nevertheless, IoT is about to change the way we interact with the world, one another and technology, all for the better.