Industryweek 13519 Tracking

Why Tracking Things Was the First IoT Goal

June 16, 2016

The term Internet of Things may be a trendy term but it makes an important point: The amount of data collected by machines is growing faster than the volume of data collected by humans.

In 1999, Kevin Ashtonthe so-called father of the Internet of Thingswas hired to work at Procter & Gamble as a brand manager for cosmetics in the United Kingdom. He observed that a brown shade of lipstick in the cosmetic line he managed apparently was always sold out, and no one knew why. The product was in stock at the warehouse, but there was no way to link the retailer electronically with the supply chain.

Inspired by microchips that were gaining traction in credit cards in Europe in the mid-1990s, Ashton had the idea to integrate a chip and RFID antenna on the shelf to help store managers keep track of how much of each kind lipstick was on the shelf. As Ashton explained in 2009 in the RFID Journal: people have limited time, attention and accuracyall of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world.

To test the idea, Procter & Gamble hooked up with MIT to study smart packaging and, in 1999, Ashton titled a presentation related to the technological concept The Internet of Things that ultimately helped popularize the idea of machines communicating with each other. At that point, computersand the Internetwere almost wholly dependent on humans for information.

Of Robots, Drones, and Autonomous Vehicles

Today, the IoT is still about breaking down barriers and opening up new communication between things. It links together humans to objects and objects to other objects. It also enables objects to react to stimuli other objects, human action, and information. To be able to achieve interaction in a smart way, knowing where the action is taking place or where the data came from is very important as reactions must be context based, says Mickael Viot, Vice President of Marketing at Decawave (Dublin, Ireland). We see this as robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles are becoming growing markets, but this also applies any connected object that can move or be moved.

Decawave, which has developed the first single chip ultra wideband transceiver, has observed a growing number of applications for tracking technology. For instance, Viot says that some of its customers in factory automation are building virtual fences for connected power tools that could be harmful to humans. Those tools cannot be operated if they are outside a predefined zone, Viot says. Such features require a very accurate location to be efficient.

In the consumer realm, two of the biggest IoT domains include the connected home and wearables. Those markets are definitely growing and we are seeing a lot of traction there, Viot explains. However, Bill Gates dream of a home that would react and even anticipate your expectations is not quite there yet with the current solutions which still require a lot of human action. As motion-tracking technology improves, it is becoming more common for technology to track the precise location of people or objects, which is leading to the development of

The industrial market is also going through a revolution that spans from connected factory to logistics, healthcare, agriculture, etc., Viot says.

As the World Economy Slows, Efficiency Is King

Many countries across the globe are struggling with sluggish economies. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinas economic growth had cooled to the slowest pace in a quarter century. Developed countries like Japan and the United States are facing similar problems as is the Eurozone.

With growth perspectives declining, especially in developed countries, finding new ways to gain in efficiency is critical and the Industrial IoT is bringing solutions to industrial processes and supply chains, Viot says. Again, location plays a vital role as you can locate or track assetseven small onesto optimize the work in progress and keep track of inventory.

One of Decawaves partners, the Czech firm Sewio, recently demonstrated an augmented reality indoor GPS for warehouse capable of navigating the workers exactly to where the products on their pick list are located.

As location technologies evolve, expect to see more creative applications of microlocation technology that are helping transform Kevin Ashton's vision of the Internet of Things into reality.

Popular Sponsored Recommendations

Electric Vehicles Spark New Opportunities in the Automotive Industry

Dec. 4, 2023
Automakers have increased plans to produce Electric Vehicles to meet customer demand for low emissions. With this radical shift, new opportunities and challenges for the auto ...

3D Printing a More Efficient Factory Floor

Nov. 16, 2023
Today’s additive manufacturing platforms make it simple to print a wide range of high-performing industrial parts as soon as possible and right where you need them — unlocking...

Lean Manufacturing in the Age of the Industrial Internet

Oct. 24, 2023
Read how advanced MES capabilities can help you improve your labor utilization, reduce WIP, and optimize your production. Download the white paper today.

Digitally Transforming Data and Processes With Product Lifecycle Management

Oct. 29, 2023
Manufacturers face increasing challenges in product development as they strive to consistently deliver improved results. Discover how industry leaders are improving time-to-market...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!