The term ‘Internet of Things’ refers to the linking of computing devices, sensors, actuators, etc., embedded in physical objects through wired or wireless networks. In a sense, it means the connection of objects to the internet. This may seem mundane, but the implications of this growing interconnectedness are vast.
The term was coined in 1999 in reference to the adoption of new technologies in supply chain management. However, it was not until 2010 with developments to Google’s Streetview service and the Chinese government’s inclusion of IoT as a strategic priority when the term really rose to prominence. At that time, it was estimated that ten to twenty billion devices were connected to the internet. By 2020, that number is forecasted to be forty to fifty billion, or about five connected devices for every human on earth.
Much of this accelerated growth is due to the ready availability of low-cost sensors. Accelerometers, barometers, gyroscopes, ambient light sensors, thermometers, and many more have dropped dramatically in price in the past ten years and as a result more OEMs are including sensors in their devices.
The ability to tap into these data sources provide opportunities to increase worker accident prevention, provide data-driven insights, increase workplace efficiency, and provide workplace guidance through predictive analytics. The trends apparent in the rise of IoT offers untold opportunities to a blue collar workforce in how they do their jobs.