Why the Internet of Things matters to your business
28 July 2015
By Immy Ransom, guest contributor
The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming to more places than you’d ever imagine. With Intelligence talked to Oliver Smeenk, founder of autonomous IoT start-up SODAQ, about transforming ideas into technology, and what that means for your business.
A few short years ago, Oliver Smeenk and his father were living in Tanzania. Being accustomed to the rainy Netherlands, they went sailing in the sun whenever they had the chance. As keen sailors will tell you, taking a sailboat out requires quite a lot of preparation and time, and Smeenk and his father found themselves lacking the technology to know the live conditions on the water from their home.
Out of curiosity, they researched the concept of the Internet of Things, and singlehandedly developed their own remote weather tracking device, which led them to ask themselves: “what else can we connect to the internet?”
The answer continues to evolve, but the question itself fuels innovation. Fast forward to two years later, and Smeenk describes a new scene: A Port of Rotterdam Authority employee walks through the largest port in Europe, scanning their eyes over the endless field of shipping containers. The employee checks the device in their hand to track the precise location of any container with live data within the port that handles over 12 million shipping containers per year.
“The technology prevents them from wasting time tracking down details, and grants the process greater efficiency and accuracy than ever before” says Smeenk. This is what the near future looks like thanks to a pilot project SODAQ begins this summer using the Internet of Things.
SODAQ is an autonomous Internet of Things company established two years ago by Smeenk, who was only 18 years old at the time. “The Internet of Things is essentially devices speaking to each other and leaving the human out of tasks that can be completed automatically, so he or she can focus on more important things,” Smeenk explains.
He uses a classic example of your refrigerator automatically ordering the groceries you need when you are out. “Simple, time-consuming tasks like counting raindrops can be done by devices.” This simple dissection of the topic is applied on a larger, more complex scale to SODAQ, which focuses on technology for environmental solutions.
The start-up, which has just completed its second round of kickstarter funding, works with businesses to help them create new solutions using the Internet of Things. Companies can reach their goals using new methods by working with SODAQ on tailored technology, specifically in the context of various environmental conditions. A project SODAQ embarked on that explains the role of the environmental tech involved a stovetop meter.
They are developing an IoT device powered by heat that measures gas levels in a room for a company that provides efficient coal-burners to poor families; the device indicates whether the coal-burners are being used and what impact they have on the health of the families. Measuring the efficiency of operations that are already in place is a common way companies use the IoT technology provided by SODAQ.
As the Internet of Things has rapidly gained attention and growth, companies need to follow the trend. The IoT provides limitless opportunity for businesses from Cortexica, using image-recognition software for fashion, to Dundee Precious Metals, using underground Wi-Fi to track machinery and people in mines. These projects are possible because the IoT allows simplification and automation of the tedious aspects of business that slow things down and permits monitoring of the efficiency of ongoing processes.
The technology gives companies the freedom to explore new ideas with capability to tailor the tech to its wishes. Removing the human element and incorporating IoT devices diminishes a variety of costs for companies, freeing up an abundance of time for tasks with greater importance.
The advantages are clear with many companies welcoming technological advancements, says Smeenk, and he sees growth in the field in the near future. “I’ve encountered an open attitude towards the Internet of Things from businesses on most occasions. This is mainly in the developed world, but that was not the case three years ago” he says, “in the next three years, it will be the same in countries like Tanzania.”
Saving time and money with the Internet of Things provides a wealth of opportunity for businesses. It is worthwhile for businesses to take a step back and determine where IoT tech can eliminate inefficiency and work remotely in your company. Devices that are developed specifically for your needs can take your business to the next level. Embracing the Internet of Things looks set to advantageously change both our future behaviour and ways of doing business.
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Image source: Gigya