Typically a college student is asked two questions: “What are you studying?” and “What would you like to do with your degree?” In my case, I always answer with “Computer Science” and “I have no idea”. Lately, the field that has grabbed my interest the most is the Internet of Things (IoT). The concept of data transfer and communication between ordinary utilities is going to revolutionize the way we go about our day to day tasks. Home automation is a key example of this. We have found ways to expedite those pesky tasks that nobody enjoys doing by simply automating them.
I’ve come to realize that there is data everywhere; we just need to take the opportunity to use it. I’ve done this in a few small side projects around my apartment. Is the door locked? Are my lights on? Did the refrigerator door completely close? These are all examples of data that is useful to me at any point in time. The trick is making it available. Using a low power microcontroller and a few sensors, I’m able to host this data and view it at any point in time. IoT has the capability of effectively improving our energy efficiency, security, and productivity simply by making data readily available.
Likewise, these same concepts apply to industrial automation. I’ve spent the last few months developing a web application to demonstrate Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The web app simply hosts a live feed of data from a conveyor system. From any computer on the network, we can see crucial data such as conveyor accumulation, sensor status or even maintenance needs. Once this data is made available, we can even automate the analysis. For example, on a conveyor, we can look at the number of packages that go by every day. A simple script that increments by one for every passing object can give a very accurate representation of day to day productivity. More intense algorithms could analyze trends in mass quantities of data return valuable results. All of this is done simply by making data continuously accessible.
According to Business Insider, by 2020, there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet and that there will be $6 trillion spent on incorporating and integrating IoT. As a student with a passion for technology, I see a lot of potential in this field. So next time I’m asked what I plan on doing with my degree, I might say an IoT developer. It’s a fascinating subject that only has room to grow.
To learn more about IIoT visit www.balluff.us.