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Go-To Guide: IoT Automation

IoT and automation are interconnected technologies that enable innovation in nearly every industry. Over the past ten years, IoT and automation have been refined and redefined, while the cost of implementing these solutions has come down enough for even small businesses and individuals to take advantage of them. In this article, we walk through some of the specific intersections of IoT and automation, and how these nascent technologies can be applied in disparate sectors.

What is IoT?
“IoT” stands for “Internet of Things,” and refers to any device that connects to another device over a network. Beyond smart home devices, the Internet of Things includes technology such as soil moisture sensors, heart monitors, and mechanisms for manufacturing. The central difference between IoT and the regular internet is that on the internet, most users are people. On the Internet of Things, data is sent and received by machines. The first device on the Internet of Things was a vending machine built by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. Read more about IoT in our blog post What is IoT?

What is Automation?
At its simplest, “automation” describes any time a machine performs a task independently. The payoff for the human overseer cannot be exaggerated. The history of automation from the wheel and pulley to the airplane or factory is long and complex. Key inventions like the steam engine, electricity, and computing are well-known, but other developments, such as feedback sensors, integrated circuits, and control theory, had as much to do with getting us where we are today. Find out more about automation in our Go-To Guide to Automation.

Combining the Two: What is IoT Automation?
IoT-connected devices collect and transmit a large amount of data, but automation is required to make that information actionable. A simple example would be an industrial refrigeration system. Sensors that monitor the temperature of the system can provide useful information, but automation allows the system to regulate itself. Discover the technologies that enable IoT automation in this article from Automation Anywhere. Future developments in IoT and automation will continue to bear out the revolutionary potential of these two technologies. 

IoT Fast Facts
The statistics of IoT automation are impressive. Let’s take a look at some facts and figures.

  • 1 million IoT devices are going to be purchased and installed each hour in 2021.  (Source.)
  • 3.5 billion cellular devices that will include IoT connections by 2023. (Source.)
  • B2B IoT device connections have increased from 2.5 billion in 2017 to 5.4 billion in 2020. (Source.)
  • 80% of US retailers will use IoT by 2021. (Source.)
  • 66% of cities in the US are making investments in “smart city” IoT technology. (Source.)
  • In 2019, worldwide sales of connected cars are estimated to have hit 28.5 million units. (Source.)

IoT Automation for Business
As discussed in our blog post How IoT Technology Will Shape Your Business’ Future, IoT automation has rippling effects across many industries, but logistics, fleet management, and corporate security are some areas that are seeing a particular concentration of innovation. 

Supply chain logistics and fleet management require knowledge of precise location and timing, as well as other conditions like weather, temperature, fuel levels, et cetera. Keeping track of all of these factors, and conveying that information to multiple parties, is made simpler by IoT automation. GPS trackers are only part of the equation: route optimization software, automatic door openers, smart thermostats, and humidity controls are just a few of the ways IoT devices and automation can be combined to make logistics operations more efficient. The same technologies can be applied across industries such as agriculture and food processing. Delve into more benefits of commercial IoT and automation as told by IoT for All.

As discussed in our podcast episode What is Modern Security?, keeping assets safe is a process with many components. When it comes to corporate security, access to valuables and areas needs to be limited to certain personnel, and the business requires prompt notification if an item leaves its designated boundary. IoT automation offers solutions to common security issues in the form of devices such as wearable badges and smart locks. GPS trackers with automated alerts ensure that assets can be recovered if a theft is discovered. Biometric sensors and other futuristic technologies will ensure further developments in the field. For more information about IoT automation in cybersecurity, take a look at IoT World Today’s article on rising automation trends.

The Future of IoT Automation
IoT automation offers nearly limitless opportunities to develop systems that work around the clock and require less human action than ever. Theoretically, humans will be freed to work on more worthwhile and complex projects. However, exciting possibilities also exist at the intersection of human and computer, whether it’s a heart monitor that alerts your smartwatch to irregularities, or a door that opens at the correct person’s touch. The Internet of Things already goes far beyond appliances and has been incorporated into our very bodies, which has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry. 

Automation will allow information collected from IoT devices to be acted upon immediately, which will continue to make the Internet of Things more useful and exciting. The only question is what we will do with the new technologies available to us.

For a broader look at automation, check out our latest blog series:
Automation Go-To Guide Part 1: What is Automation?
Automation Go-To Guide Part 2: Automation in the Workplace