Not that long ago, the idea of a radio and a refrigerator talking to each other was reserved for a “Jetsons” episode or the movie “2001:A Space Odyssey”. However, today it’s not so farfetched. Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the way we live, and how we interact with our environment. What’s better, is any house can become a smart house and you don’t even need a “HAL” to interact with components like your smart switches, Wi-Fi routers or even your advanced camera.

Lights Out!

In manufacturing, IoT allows for faster and more efficient workflow. “Lights out” manufacturing (or dark factory) is when automated devices, 3D printers, and CNC machines are able to run without any physical person being present to observe the machines running. All can be controlled remotely from a handheld device. When a machine is down, a signal is sent to someone to repair the device. Minimal contact with the machines means manufacturers are able to save money and allow a person to be freed up to work on a more critical job and let the computer follow its own mission objective.

Do-it-yourselfers aren’t left out either

As for those of us that enjoy building things ourselves, the possibilities are endless, with help from cheap single-board computers. Products like Raspberry Pi (delicious name, powerful board) and Arduinos (speedy and adaptable) coming in at about $40, single board computers can help automate various appliances to perform tasks such as plant watering or activating a motor. Here at PWI we have used Raspberry Pi’s and Arduinos for prototyping as well as to build smart displays.  

The true MVP

With the price of processors down in comparison to 10 years ago, wireless controllers have become more With the price of processors down in comparison to 10 years ago, wireless controllers have become more mainstream. The unsung hero in the IoT landscape is truly IPv6 or internet protocol version 6. The introduction of IPv6 has allowed the creation of almost a limitless number of IP addresses. IP addresses allow wireless devices to be located within a network. Without IPv6 or with a limit on IP addresses, only select devices could be controlled at a time. With help from IoT you’ll never have to worry about hearing “I’m afraid I can’t do that.”