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  • Micro examples

    Tim Kannegieter

    This page lists a range of micro examples of IOT across a variety of industries:

    Smart Homes and Buildings: 

    • Security: Remote monitoring of properties can be freed of the need for wiring, making installation much easier. It is also easier to install remotely controlled actuators such door and gate locks. In addition, IoT systems can add a level of intelligence to home security systems, alerting you to unusual activity, letting you know if you are leaving home with a door or window open etc.
    • Toothbrush. One may consider, “Why would you want to connect to a tooth brush?” Currently a dentist would advise you that you need to get your teeth cleaned by your dentist every 6 months but that isn’t necessarily the case. In fact some people might need to get their teeth cleaned by a dentist every 3 months because they’re not very good at brushing their teeth. For some people it could be every 9 months.
    • Air conditioning: The point is being reached where your home can learn about its occupants and their patterns of behavior.  For example a text message could be sent to the owner as notification at 10 am Monday morning advising that the air-conditioning is still on but with no-one at home, asking if the system should turn the air conditioning off.  Intelligence enables a user experience that wasn’t previously possible because the instrumentation wasn’t available.

    • Whitegoods: Whirlpool, is a manufacturer of white goods and they are starting to ship their products now within embedded connectivity. They aim to gain a better idea of how they their products are being used by their customers and to close the loop on the engineering process. They aim to deliver a product into the market in a way that facilitates the feedback to the design and engineering process. This will assist in optimising things like averting unnecessary part replacements, being able to make intelligent decisions about warranty lengths. It can also assist in maintenance by delivering the ability to repair products in place and to diagnose the problem before the technician gets there rather than having to visit firstly to diagnose the problem, order parts and the return later to effect the repair. This would naturally reduce the cost of warrantee repairs for the organisation.

    • Swimming Pools: pHin is a company incubated at Playground Global that provides an end-to-end lifecycle of pool management service around delivery of chemicals, pool maintenance and everything to do with your swimming pool. The device pictured measures the chemical makeup of the swimming pool that it's floating in. It's connected via Bluetooth to a low-power hub and can be managed through a phone. It all started from one very simple IoT idea to build this floating device that would tell the homeowner when they needed to put chlorine in the pool but they've developed the business model out so that it now encompasses managing the entire ecosystem of  your pool. If you need a pool technician, they'll automatically call it out. If you need chemicals, they'll automatically deliver it. They can do preventative maintenance on your pumps. They can help ultimately look at your electricity usage, etc..

    • Child activity: Elanation is a business that encourages kids go outside to play.Kids have a wearable device and they earn points by playing in the physical world so that they can come inside and play on their iPads and play games. There is an associated that runs on Apple devices and an entire backend for managing that business. Their wearable devices are manufactured in China

    • Other devices are: the Quirkey smart egg tray, which lets users know when they need to buy eggs.


    • Asset management: A lot of servicing is typically done on a rules basis such as tightening the bolts every 2 years when in fact every 2.5 to 3 years may be sufficient if a condition based servicing model were used. IOT can be used to more easily instrument all elements of infrastructure to enable this.
    • Another asset management business is SkyGrid which were accelerated through the muru-D accelerator which is Telstra's accelerator. Their whole idea is they can track anything, anywhere, at any time. They're really focused in the asset management space like vehicles, like all of the assets that are on a construction site or on an oil rig. They're starting to do smart hot water systems and working in the plumbing space or making those sorts of devices a much more intelligent pro-active maintenance aspect to their business.
    • Concrete: A concrete truck company was pouring slabs of concrete and had been waiting for about 45 minutes to move on to the next one. The 45 minute period had been determined from some calculations for the worst case conditions such as temperature and humidity, for the concrete slab to harden.  As a result, there was a high-cost for the cement truck and operator remaining idle waiting for a period of time to start the next pour. A simple sensor was created to place in to the concrete, to provide feedback to the operator that the next pour could proceed. The business was able to double its productivity just by that very simple, low cost sensing. The business process was optimized in a manner where commercially and technically it wasn’t previously viable to do so.
    • Bridge monitoring: Sensors can be installed on bridges to measure the fatigue of various components in order to better enable predictive maintenance. It can also enable better measure what what kind of loads the bridge is being subject to. While predictive maintenance concepts have been around for a long time, it has previously been cost prohibitive to hard-wire sensors to large pieces of infrastructure.
    • Safety helmets: A number of companies are designing and producing safety helmets that can monitor the users movement and impacts to the helmet. For example, if it detected a severe impact followed by no movement it may automatically call emergency services right away.

    • Pipeline management: A Victoria water utility called GWM Water covering 71 towns and 32,000 properties implemented a rural pipeline intelligence project. This involved installing telemetry on rural meters and the pipeline network. The business case was around the usual of lower costs, reduced downtime, avoidance of upgrades and improved water security etc. The project used LPWAN technology from Taggle with 46 gateways and nearly 14,000 devices. A remote Terminal Unit was added to each of the existing water meters with a batter life of 10+ years. Data was recorded every hour and transmitted daily.

    • Building information management (BIM) systems: A developing application of augmented reality where high quality digital visualisation glasses can be built into safety helmets for work on a building site. The glasses use sophisticated tracking, laser sensors and stereo cameras to track the user's location and project relevant digital overlays on building features as the user moves around. Building Management Systems will also be greatly impacted. 

    Smart Cities:

    • Parking: Smart parking is dependent on parking sensors. One of the daunting aspects of installing parking sensors is the actual insulation of hundreds of thousands of sensors in the environment.  Ease of installation is a key success factor.
    • Waste management: Rather than emptying garbage bins  on a regular basis sensing allows optimization of the way in which that garbage is collected. Sensors can detect how full the bin is and even odours.
    • Lighting: While sensors can be used to detect movement and light only as required, IoT can take this to a new level by mapping usage of public thoroughfares.
    • Livability: Sensors can be used to determine a whole range of environmental indicators of livability in cities including noise, heat, air pollution, wind tunnel effects etc. 


    • Animal tracking: A lot of people are considering how we track animals. One of the challenges with animal tracking is the replacement of the existing ear tag with a device which allows the location of the beast to be known any given point in time, this will add mass to that existing ear tag. At the moment there are problems where existing ear tags fall out because of their mass, and increasing Tag mass will exacerbate the problem. In this instance ultra-unit cost and additionally ultra-small mass or weight is really important.
    • Cropping: There are numerous case studies now of smart approaches to crop management, e.g. environmental monitoring of crops. Ovass is a startup on smart crop data and analytics focused on reducing scouting effort around pests, disease and nutrition. Cisco has a joint venture with NSW government to improve agricultural practices using IoT. Deploying sensors rather than monitoring manually can improve the quality and consistency of montoring, as manual monitoring can be costly and inaccurate if environmental conditions outside of the monitoring period affect results.
    • FarmBot covers water management. Detecting when animals or irrigation are using water in tanks, the quality of that water and providing that information back to the farm so they can much more closely manage and monitor their water usage across large farms in the middle of nowhere. They use satellite technology to get the data back to the cloud.
    • Ovass does deep data analysis in the agriculture sector, aggregating data from multiple agricultural farms to provide a very, very deep analysis of what's happening inside that farm, using sensors to gather that data such as use of water, use of pesticides, yield of how much that the crops are actually generating etc It's a business that's using agricultural big data to provide some amazing insights that are then being supported by the data they're getting from sensors throughout farms.


    • Pallet Tracking: Pallet tracking is an example where a lot of people think of GPS. They ask for or say that they need a GPS tracker. Now for a truck that might make sense, where for the last 10 or 20 years people have been instrumenting trucks with a really expensive $3000 tracker that takes a lot to install.  Now we’re getting to the point where users wish to not just track the truck but also wish to track the container, the pallets within it and individual boxes on the pallets. For those kinds of application, a lot of the time a pallet or a box might spend its life inside buildings. It may go from one country to another, into a shipping container, into a truck, into a warehouse or into a storeroom. There are some boxes and logistical applications where the device never really sees the light of day, and remains out of GPS range. GPS would be a really poor choice technology for some applications and there are other better options. In application such as tracking moving vehicles, response time and latency become really important.
    • Smart cars: It has been estimated that 25 gigabytes of data is pushed by the average smart car every hour. They have microprocessors and dozens of sensors that collect lots of data including the route of the car, speed, performance of components, road conditions etc. The current challenge is how best to use this data for the benefit of the users.


    • Wildlife monitoring: CSIRO is involved in the continental scaled tracking of flying foxes to research mobility patterns of individuals. It developed a lightweight sensor device weighing 15 grams with GPS on it, including an accelerometer, and a radio transmitter. When the flying foxes stop at a nest, or base camp, then the data is uploaded to a hub and then transmitted to a processing center.
    • Water health: Sensing for leakages of chemicals, sewage, turbidity and other pollution indicators. 
    • Other applications include bushfire detection, water levels in rivers, wildlife populations through listening for sounds etc, 


    • Automatic detection of hazards: CSIRO is involved in a project called Guardian Angel, which automatically monitors where people are in relation to moving machines. It can then take preventative action to stop accidents.
    • Real time monitoring of yield: Before IoT, yield was managed as the end-to-end production from the factory over months or weeks. With IoT, floor supervisors can intervene to improve a situation arising from a machine or worker because this KPI is delivered in real time. There are also opportunities for training workers, safety, and standardisation. One affordable, wearable technology used in manufacturing is Epson glasses, which can provide augmented reality views to pinpoint particular production issues.


    • Caring for the elderly in their home: One example of the application of cognitive computing in IoT is in health care for the elderly in their own homes (curtesy IBM). Asking the elderly to wear sensors is problematic because they may not raise an alert when they should or they alert when they shouldn’t and people stop wearing them after a while. An alternative approach is to instrument other things in the house such as fridge doors, light switches, bathrooms, movement sensors, and maybe infrared sensors etc. The cognitive software can then build up an understanding of what normal looks like. When something abnormal happens, the system can then raise an alert and make a call to the emergency services.
    • Medical aids: One emerging technology is the Proteus pill, a pill with a digestible sensor. It can be used to monitor how much medication patients have taken and when they take it. This allows medical professionals to monitor whether patients are taking their medication correctly.
    • Exercise monitors: The Garmin Vivofit is an example of a wearable exercise monitor.
    • Home monitoring of patients with chronic diseases: The Australian department of health (DOHA) is developing a large scale project with Swinburne University which is studying the health and economic outcomes of introducting IoT home monitoring devices to high-risk patients with chronic disease.


    • Smart metering of water: Australian smart metering company WaterGroup has developed a campus-wide smart metering solution for both water and gas for Australian National University in Canberra, with automatic alerts, data analytics and integration with sustainability management systems. This included a retrofitted data-logging device on existing meters, which converted them to smart meters. This system measures baseflow and detects leaks, and was able to return water savings that provided a return of investment in less than a year. Watergroup has also installed a Sigfox smart water metering system for Coffs Harbour City Council (the first Sigfox commercial smart metering system outside of Europe and North America), which covers around 80% of the population of the council area.


    • Car to Car: Vehicles may be able to talk to each other for safety reasons such as collision avoidance, and for efficiency reasons such as better convoy performance in logistics.
    • Car to Infrastructure: There are multiple ways vehicles could interact with infrastructure such as parking systems, highway safety features etc.
    • Diagnostics: As with many consumer goods, diagnostic information can be sent from the the various things that make up a car and this can be used to deliver superior services to the owner and also to improve design of components. Ti can also improve investigation of equipment faults and better manage the need for product recalls.
    • Sharing economy: Making cars themselves, internet enabled things can improve the ability to automate ride sharing business processes.
    • Ownership changes: Processes around ownership changes of vehicles can be improved when the digital identity of the automobile is  manifested at the point of manufacturing.
    • Personalised Media: Vehicles with common IoT technology may be able to recognise you so that regardless of what vehicle you are in, it will deliver personalised media. This can be used for entertainment purposes such as in rental cars or can be used for business purposes across large fleets used in logistics or public transport.
    • Driver behaviour modification: GoFar have a smart device that goes in your car and it scores your driving. It has a Bluetooth connection to your phone. It's helping you to drive better with logs and scores providing feedback. The economic incentive is to save you a lot of fuel. It helps you track your expenses and monitor / reduce your emissions. They did a successful Kickstarter, crowdfunding. 


    • Energy Demand Management: Economics is the key driver for this application, as it affects the unit price of power. It also has implications for the environment and energy security. Demand can be controlled on the user side by introducing smart metres with circuit breakers.
    • Hybrid Generation Systems: A smart hybrid generation system is used to run the King Island power supply in Tasmania (Hydro Tasmania). It combines energy from wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and diesel generators and also performs demand-side management using IoT devices.
    • Smart metres installed homes allow users to monitor their electricity usage over the internet.

    Sources: The information on this page was primarily sourced from:

    Edited by Tim Kannegieter

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