By Ramneek Kalra, IEEE Member
The shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, has transformed the way we think, live and work. It has also pushed for a chance to explore emerging technologies, and opportunities in every space. Moreover, it has advanced the modification and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) to support various sectors making IoT play an important role in shaping the new-normal.
In the world we live in, close to 75% of all electronic devices we currently own and use can connect to cloud-based services on the internet, and be IoT enabled. With IoT, devices now have the ability to communicate and integrate with each other through the cloud. As per a research report by Gartner, it is expected that there will be 20 billion internet-connected devices by 2020. This consists of connected cars, vending machines, jet engines, among many others. These statistics are already becoming a reality with new technology solutions helping in the fight against the coronavirus and helping businesses to function smoothly.
IoT in Remote Working and Online Schooling
With the situation of work-from-home, virtualization forms the core base of connectivity for employees. Data is being shared and uploaded on user-layer, and cloud layer is playing a major role in analysing and pushing out predictions using the internet.
Remote workers have access to almost all of the tools they need – making working from home nearly indistinguishable from working in the office. IoT will make remote-working easier, especially with its further advancements.
On the other hand, a large number of schools and institutions have adopted online teaching methods, virtual learning portals, online examinations and connected video lectures broadcasted over the internet. Connected virtual classroom technology increases collaboration and also keeps students, parents, and teachers updated with the latest attendance, grades, and news.
IoT in Healthcare
Healthcare is obviously at the center of the pandemic. The healthcare sector poses a crucial demand of being connected to bring in resources and provide the same in emergency situations. Specific IoT health applications are seeing a surge in usage.
IoT technology is allowing user data of millions to be fed into databases, to enable real-time maps showing where symptoms like fevers might be spiking. Wearables and sensors are using the power of IoT to track temperature, blood oxygen levels and heart rate. Certain types of fitness trackers can be IoT enabled as well.
Another application of IoT in the healthcare sector is via robotics. While robotization has often allowed surgeons to better perform extremely complicated procedures, it is also proving to be useful at this time of the pandemic. Connected robots have been distributing masks and dispensing sanitizers to people in public places. They are also bringing food, water and medicines to patients in many hospitals, and disinfecting areas.
With factories reopening, they will need to scale up adoption of smarter manufacturing processes – many of which will be powered by IoT and other emerging technologies. The data that is fed to models based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), often comes from the industrial IoT network on the manufacturing floor. Hence, we will get to see accelerated deployment of Industrial IoT as well.
Having integrated sensors on tools and machines can reduce errors and bolster safety in the workplace, as well as improve efficiency in factories. Most of these sensors powered by IoT can gather data, store it wirelessly, and use analytics and machine learning to perform actions.
Technologies like IoT and AI have come a long way and are being used in the fight against COVID-19. However, they are yet to reach their true potential of usage. It is up to us to push these developments forward. The new-normal would definitely be dependent on working virtually and on assisted technology for advancement to a greater extent.
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