The introduction of IoT has progressed in various fields, and IoT has become a familiar word. Even if you are in contact with things connected to the network, there is no concrete explanation of what the concept of IoT is, how it works, what kind of data is acquired, and what will change with IoT.
There are many things you can’t do. If you do not understand specific examples of IoT usage and how it works, you will not be able to use it effectively. This time, I will introduce the basic concept of IoT, what it can do, and what it can change. Let’s check the introduction points and points to note when introducing while looking at the introduction case.
Table of contents
What is IoT?
IoT (Internet of Things) is called “the Internet of Things”, and refers to a mechanism for acquiring data from things and remotely controlling them by embedding information transmission functions into things and connecting them via the Internet.
Background of popularization
IoT has evolved with the spread of wireless communication technology. Although it seems to be a recently born concept, the term IoT first appeared in 1999. That year, the Auto-ID Lab, established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, developed a wireless automatic identification device and was conducting research toward its practical application.
The term IoT is said to have been coined by Kevin Ashton, one of the co-founders of the Institute.
But the idea of connecting things to things existed even earlier. The concept of “ubiquitous computing” announced in the United States in 1988 is said to be one of them.
Among the various concepts emerging, the radio frequency automatic identification device being researched at the Auto-ID Lab is said to be the dawn of major IoT technologies.
However, it took a long time for IoT to spread. It wasn’t until the late 2010s, more than a decade later, that IoT became generally recognized. The background to this is the advancement of technology to popularize IoT.
Speaking of 2010, is also an era when many people started using smartphones. Softbank released the iPhone 4 following the iPhone 3G in 2008, and it was around this time that the spread of smartphones exploded. And IT companies have started to utilize IoT as a style they aim for in the future.
In addition, with the entry of smartphones into the IT industry, the unit price of sensors essential for data acquisition decreased, making it easier to install them in various things.
IoT has begun to spread at an accelerated pace due to the evolution of such technology and the resulting reduction in device costs.
What you can do with IoT
What can be done with the introduction of IoT?
Can be operated from a remote location
For example, remote control can be used to move or stop an object in a remote location. Lighting equipment and air conditioners are familiar items. For example, for crime prevention, it is possible to turn on the lights in the entrance or room from outside so that people will not know that you are away. You can also operate the air conditioner before returning home to make the indoor temperature comfortable, or you can turn off the air conditioner that you forgot to turn off when you left the house.
These functions are also used in factories, schools, and hospitals.
Status can be known from a remote location
By using IoT, even if there is no one on-site, it is possible to know the status of the work site, etc., based on the data sent by IoT from a remote location. For example, it is used in unmanned factories, nursing homes, and farms.
Use in unmanned factories
You can check whether the machine is operating normally, such as when the machine is running unattended on holidays or at night.
In addition, when an abnormal operation of a machine or production line is detected, the information is sent to the registered place (person), and the machine or line can be stopped remotely.
Furthermore, it is also possible to grasp and notify signs of anomalies before they occur. This function makes it possible to prevent loss due to an emergency stop of the line, etc.
In addition to the remaining amount of spare parts, you can also manage and notify the timing of the order. The staff will check the inventory of parts and the timing of replenishment each time, and the machine will automatically detect and respond without ordering or replenishment work.
Use in nursing homes
By attaching a sensor to the leg of the bed used by the resident, it is possible to detect when the resident leaves the bed and notify the caregiver. For example, when dealing with residents with dementia, even if caregivers are not around, it is necessary to always understand the behavior of residents who develop peripheral symptoms such as wandering, especially when they leave their beds. there is. By utilizing IoT, it is possible to provide a fulfilling nursing environment while reducing the burden on nursing care workers.
When cultivating vegetables in greenhouses that anticipate the season or produce vegetables that are difficult to grow in the area, it is necessary to manage the temperature, humidity, and illuminance suitable for the plants. It takes time and money to perform such management by checking the temperature inside each greenhouse and checking the moisture content of the soil. By utilizing IoT, such data can be grasped from a remote location such as a home, making it possible to manage greenhouses unattended. It will be possible to manage the same crops with less manpower.
How IoT works
The concept of IoT was born in the latter half of the 20th century, and it has become a reality due to the development of communication technology. Until now, things that could not be done or investigated without people working on the spot can be managed, operated, and improved efficiently even from a remote location by using IoT. became.
Let’s take a look at how IoT works to see why this is possible.
The basic mechanism is a technology that connects and cooperates with the Internet
IoT is a technology for equipping various things with communication functions, connecting them to the Internet, and linking them with other things. Communication functions can be installed in various things. Apple’s Apple Watch is widely known as a watch equipped with a communication function. When we talk about IoT, what we refer to as things are devices. Of course, PCs and smartphones are called devices, but refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, clocks, doors, etc. are also devices.
To connect things to the internet
PCs and smartphones are equipped with the ability to connect to the Internet from the beginning. On the other hand, with IoT, home appliances that were not connected to the Internet, such as refrigerators and air conditioners, will now be connected to the Internet.
So how do home appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners send and receive data? Let’s see how it works.
IoT uses the following devices to connect things to the Internet:
- Device: A device that collects data with built-in sensors and communication capabilities. The equipment you use will also depend on what kind of data you collect.
<Examples of devices that collect data>
Sensors: Devices that acquire data such as temperature, humidity, acceleration, illuminance, vibration, and magnetism.
Beacon: A device that emits radio waves at regular intervals and is mainly used to ascertain location information.
- Gateway: A communication device that bundles data collected from devices and connects them to the network.
- Application: Software for visualizing data. The role of the application is to analyze and process the data sent from the device through the gateway to make it easier for the user to use. Applications are generally available on web browsers as cloud services.
- Network: Refers to communication equipment and radio waves. Telecommunications companies such as Softbank provide line facilities. You will be able to connect to the Internet through the network.
Dual role of device
So what role do network-connected devices play? There are two main possibilities. sensing and feedback.
Sensing refers to the mechanism by which the device itself collects the state as data and notifies it. For example, the refrigerator door is left open. An electronic component called a sensor makes this sensing possible.
There are various types of sensors such as light sensors, sound sensors, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, magnetic sensors, and image sensors. These are not only used individually, but by combining multiple, it becomes possible to collect more specific and complex data.
Feedback is the role of displaying data or taking action. Feedback can be categorized into three types. Visibility, notification, and control.
( 1 ) Visualization: Enables recognition on the screen. (
2 ) Notification: Sends a notification when a certain condition (state) is met. (
3 ) Control: Changes the device state when a certain condition (state) is met.
In this way, by equipping objects with sensors and communication functions to collect data, we can receive notifications even when we are far away, control objects remotely, and operate without our instructions. Even if it is, it will work automatically, and added value that was not possible before will be created.
Industries starting to use IoT -Case studies-
I have explained that IoT is a mechanism that creates some added value by connecting various “things” to the Internet.
For example, by incorporating an information communication system into televisions and air conditioners, IoT has come to be used in people’s familiar lives, such as making it possible to check and operate remotely when you are not at home. rice field.
In addition, IoT is being applied not only in home appliances but also in various industries and is being used to improve productivity and ensure safety.
From here, let’s look at examples of actual IoT utilization in several industries and local governments.
1. IoT utilization in local governments
Local governments nationwide are also considering the use of IoT.
Fujieda City, located in central Shizuoka Prefecture, has started a demonstration experiment using SoftBank’s IoT platform. Twenty-one private companies selected through open recruitment participated in the experiment and provided various services. The data accumulated in the IoT platform is shared with participating companies through LPWA (power-saving, long-distance wireless communication technology) gateways installed in 30 locations in the city. Used for water level observation function, etc. It has been confirmed that it will help improve the safety and convenience of citizens.
In addition, in Munakata City, Fukuoka Prefecture, we are using IoT to train new farmers to grow strawberries. The city introduced “e-Kakashi” and clarified the differences between veteran farmers and young farmers by comparing data. In addition, by collecting and analyzing farm work data from veteran farmers, we can visualize cultivation techniques that were largely dependent on experience and intuition. Using this information, we created a situation in which even young farmers can do the same work as experienced farmers. As a result, we achieved an average increase in revenue of approximately 800,000 yen per 10 acres. In addition, profits increased not only for young farmers but also for veteran farmers.
2. Utilization of IoT in the automobile industry
The automotive industry is often cited as an industry that is actively using IoT. It is used in various ways to improve driver convenience and safety. Among them, a representative example that is attracting attention is the “automated driving system” to reduce traffic accidents.
In particular, in Japan, which has become an aging society, there is a trend toward an increasing number of drivers who want to drive safely even when their motor function and cognitive speed begin to decline physically. It is beginning to spread as a technology that can provide safer and more comfortable driving for such elderly drivers.
For example, Toyota’s “ITS Connect”. Direct communication between “roads” and “cars” or “cars” and “cars” using dedicated frequencies for ITS (intelligent transport systems) exists in blind spots that cannot be captured by conventional sensors installed in cars. It informs the driver of “people” and “vehicles”.
In addition, there is also a function to alert the driver with a buzzer if the driver may have missed a signal or become distracted.
3. IoT Utilization in the Logistics Industry
IoT is widely used in the logistics industry, such as inventory management, receipt/shipment management, and delivery management.
As the scale of warehouse management and operation grows, there is a limit to what people can do. In addition, inaccurate and unreliable warehouse management can lead to delays or errors in customer deliveries, which can affect sales.
In 2018, Sanritsu, which provides comprehensive logistics services such as packaging, transportation, and warehousing, introduced Swisslog’s automatic robot control picking system AutoStore. AutoStore uses a dedicated container to automatically perform warehousing and shipping. Then, the port manages the expiration date of each product, an inspection of defective products during inventory, etc. In this way, expiration date management and inventory control within distribution centers become easier, and it is possible to issue appropriate delivery instructions according to the inventory status of each distribution center, leading to improved operational efficiency.
4. IoT utilization in agriculture
The use of IoT is also progressing in agriculture. What is worth noting is that the use of IoT has made it possible to overcome the aging of farmers, labor shortages, and lack of successors. We are building an environment that makes it easy for new farmers to enter by converting experience values such as cultivation intuition that has been cultivated through experience. Aiming to solve a similar problem, Semboku City in Akita Prefecture introduced e-Kakashi
, an IoT solution for agriculture provided by SoftBank, to two rice farmers in the city as a demonstration experiment in 2019. e-Kakashi is a system for installing sensors in fields, collecting data on the cultivation environment, and making it possible to check it on the management screen through an app. Furthermore, by accumulating data, it is possible to receive guidance on cultivation from SoftBank staff with AI and an agricultural doctorate (academic). As a result, even young farmers with low experience can expect to improve productivity. In addition, scientific approaches that could not be noticed by intuition cultivated through experience are also possible. By building a farm work management system that utilizes IoT, the possibilities for the development of agriculture are expanding even in a society with a declining birthrate and an aging population.
5. Utilization of IoT in the medical and nursing care industry
The use of IoT is progressing in various areas in the medical industry, such as improving patient safety measures and services and reducing the burden on doctors and nurses.
Nipro, a medical device manufacturer, has developed the “Nipro Heartline” system to support telemedicine. The results of measurements taken by patients at home, such as body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse rate, are sent to medical institutions in real-time and shared with relevant parties. In addition, the videophone function makes it easy to share image information of the affected area. In addition, if the value deviates from the value set in advance by the doctor, a warning will be sent, making it possible to respond quickly even from a distance. It is also expected to be used in regions where there is a shortage of doctors.
IoT is also being used in the nursing care industry. The nursing care industry continues to face a serious labor shortage. In addition, as the population ages, the number of elderly people with dementia who use nursing homes is increasing. Under these circumstances, IoT beds that notify people when they are out of bed are attracting attention as a way to help elderly people living in nursing homes live safe and secure life. For example, if a user leaves the bed at a time when they should be asleep, the caregiver will be notified. As a result, it is possible to quickly detect wandering behavior and prevent accidents such as falls and wandering. In addition, IoT-enabled beds collect data such as body weight and breathing while sleeping, which can be used as data for health maintenance.
6. Utilization of IoT in the manufacturing industry (factories)
Japan’s “manufacturing” with high technological capabilities is well-established around the world, but there are various problems such as labor shortages and excessive reliance on skilled workers. As a solution to these problems, the manufacturing industry is also using IoT.
Yamaguchi Seisakusho, which engages in metal press processing and mold manufacturing, is utilizing IoT to understand the operating status of production equipment, leading to efforts to further strengthen the company’s strengths. Introduced the tool “Sigma Gunshi” provided by KMC. The tool can be installed on many types of production equipment, and the company has installed it on eight machines. As a result, it has become possible to collect information on machine tool operating conditions and present it to customers as needed. In addition, since it is now possible to grasp the production process with data, it is also used to review waste to improve efficiency. We have achieved short-term delivery of 70 to 80%.
7. Utilization of IoT in the real estate industry
The use of IoT can also be seen in the real estate industry.
Ichigo, a comprehensive real estate company that develops various businesses related to real estates, such as J-REIT management and solar power generation, has developed the “THE KNOT” series, which creates new value through the renovation of existing hotels. At “THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku” which was reopened in August 2018, instead of the conventional cylinder key, we introduced ” Sumakagi ” using Softbank’s IoT platform.
By linking the “Sumakagi” system and the “hotel management” system with an API (sharing application functions), it is possible for guests to automatically check in and check out without the intervention of staff. became. Various effects have been achieved, such as greatly reducing the burden on staff and eliminating problems such as lost keys.
The future of IoT
IoT is progressing in various industries, and its spread is expanding at an accelerating pace. According to a survey by IHS Markit, the cumulative number of IoT devices installed in 2018 reached 30 billion. Furthermore, it is expected to reach 80 billion by 2025. In addition, according to the White Paper on Information and Communications released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2017, it is estimated that economic growth will reach 1,495 trillion yen by 2030 due to progress in social reforms through IoT.
As seen in the examples above, IoT is being used in various industries and has the potential to evolve further in the future. For example, it may be used to correct disparities between urban and rural areas. By operating production lines at night when electricity prices are low, or operating smart factories that can operate 24 hours a day, it may be possible to maintain and improve productivity while improving the working environment for employees. In this way, the further evolution of IoT will not only reduce the burden of work but will also lead to liberation from constraints such as “location” and “time”, enabling a variety of work style choices.
In addition, the time will come when not only Japan but all kinds of “things” around the world, such as home appliances, automobiles, logistics, and medical care, will be connected to the Internet as a matter of course. Shortly, you should be able to enjoy its convenience regardless of the country or region you live in.
Issues accompanying the evolution of cutting-edge technology (IoT, AI, big data)
IoT is expected to spread more and more in the future, but some problems have been pointed out.
The first issue is security measures. There are a huge number of IoT devices, some of which are not adequately protected. In addition, since IoT devices are familiar “things”, they tend to be less aware that they are connected to the Internet, and users tend to be less conscious of security.
On the other hand, when problems do occur, they can cause huge losses. Cyberattacks targeting IoT are on the rise.
Therefore, in February 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, and multiple Internet providers collaborated to launch the “NOTICE” research project for IoT devices that may be exploited in cyberattacks.
With the start of NOTICE, we are investigating devices that may be used for cyberattacks, such as using easily guessed passwords for IoT devices on the Internet, and notifying and alerting Internet providers. increase.
In particular, for companies that possess a large number of information assets such as customer information and product information, security risks such as leaks and unauthorized access of confidential information due to cyberattacks can cause significant damage to their business activities.
It is necessary to be aware that strong security measures for devices and facilities are a major prerequisite for utilizing IoT, which is effective in improving business operations.
In addition, “lack of human resources” is also a big problem. The dissemination of technology requires human resources who understand and advance technology.
According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s “Survey on the Latest Trends and Future Estimates of IT Human Resources,” despite the continued expansion of the IT market, the number of people entering the IT industry is decreasing year by year.
The shortage of human resources in the IT industry will become more serious in the future, and it is assumed that the scale of the shortage will expand to about 590,000 people in 2030.
Furthermore, even within IT, IoT is called advanced IT technology along with “big data” and “AI (artificial intelligence)”, and because it requires specialized knowledge, the shortage of human resources is even more serious.
The time has come when IoT will be used as a matter of course in both business and daily life. As a user, it is important not only to enjoy convenience but also to understand the issues related to IoT. It can be said that to utilize IoT on a country-by-country, company-by-company, or individual-by-individual basis, it is necessary to understand the current environment, take all possible measures to deal with possible problems, and introduce it. One way to start using IoT in business is to consult with a company that provides comprehensive IoT-related services.