What is The Internet of Things (IoT)?
The term “Internet of Things” refers to physical devices that can be controlled by a computer connected to the internet. IoT devices are often referred to as smart devices because you can operate, monitor, and collect information from “things” using your desktop computer or mobile device. The IoT revolutionizes the way you can interact with everyday devices like lights, switches, sensors, locks, security cameras, appliances, and HVAC equipment.
Why are IoT Devices So Popular?
- IoT devices save money.
- IoT devices streamline processes.
- IoT devices provide useful information.
- IoT devices can be proactively managed.
For example, consider an office with standard locks and keys versus an office with IoT access controls. In the traditional environment, when an employee leaves the company, you must re-key all your locks to prevent them from gaining access to your building. You’ll also need to redistribute new keys to your employees. This is a huge hassle and locksmiths are expensive. With IoT access controls, just a few clicks and you’re good to go! And with IoT access controls, you’ll have the added benefit of knowing who entered your building and when they entered.
Common Applications of The Internet of Things
Traditional office lighting fixtures use fluorescent bulbs and require AC power. It’s possible to retrofit these fixtures with LED bulbs or replace them with LED fixtures. LED lights will save energy, but the fixtures are still unintelligent because they are not connected. The magic happens when you add an Ethernet port (the same way you connect your desktop computer to your network). The connection gives you the ability to control your lighting fixtures using software. Some fixtures go one step further by allowing you to power the fixtures over the Ethernet cable (POE), eliminating the need to run costly AC power to each device. These fixtures cost a little bit more than traditional fixtures, but the return on your investment will be quick, in most cases less than one year. The cost savings come from much lower energy bills and lower maintenance costs. Imagine never having to replace ballasts again and dramatically reducing how often you need to replace bulbs.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of smart commercial lighting is the ability to implement human-centric lighting. With human-centric lighting, you’ll be able to use color and intensity variations to create an environment that will increase the productivity or your employees.
Building Access Controls
Traditional building security requires locks and physical keys. When you need to grant access or remove access to your building, it involves a time consuming and expensive re-keying of locks. Modern access controls allow you to access your building via key cards that are easy to enable and disable using software. The key benefits are the ability to grant or deny access instantly and to track who entered the building or secure areas.
Security Cameras & Systems
Traditional building security systems use expensive cameras, recording devices, and a bank of monitors. All of this is tied together with special cabling and switching gear. With IoT, all video is captured using inexpensive digital cameras and is transported and stored on your computer network, or in the cloud. The benefits are that anyone (provided they have rights) with a desktop computer can view what’s going on, low-cost storage, ease of retrieving and viewing a video, desktop control of cameras, and the ability to monitor your building from a remote location inexpensively.
Traditional building management systems work OK but are very expensive and difficult to configure and maintain. Modern IoT thermostats are inexpensive and are easy to install. You’ll never have to run around and set up your thermostats using tiny screens with complicated menus. All of your thermostats and other control devices will be managed by easy to use applications that will run on your desktop or mobile device. You’ll have complete control of your building’s heating and cooling, be able to set schedules, and easily make adjustments.
In the past, your phone system and your computer network were two distinct systems. Phone systems that use the internet to manage your voice traffic are less expensive and offer many features that will streamline the way you work. Imagine seamlessly making and receiving calls from your computer, being able to share your screen with others easily, and collaborate with co-workers effortlessly. It’s all easily within reach with IoT powered voice.