Internet of Things & 5G
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of physical connected objects which are able to send and receive data to and from other objects in the network. It is an exciting concept that is growing all of the time. It is a driving force for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) that we are currently going through, and it is working away in many places - the majority of which we can't see - and is having a large impact on both the B2C and B2B business World. Experts predict large growth for the IoT in the first half of the 21st century, as more and more users get connected to devices and products.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology have grown side by side over the last few years, and in many cases, they overlap. That's because NFC enabled devices such as mobile devices and NFC Tags & Products are able to form part of the IoT network, and in many cases, enhance it.
How the IoT is having an impact
Thanks to the IoT, insights are being made that can change the way we operate our businesses and our lives. Whether it is tracking customer behaviour, or the ability to manufacture products more efficiently - the ability to send information in an instant, automatically, and then analyse this data is proving to be highly effective in commercial and industrial settings. The IoT is feeding nicely into other technologies which are key components of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). That's because in many cases, the IoT can provide the crucial method of gathering large amounts of data quickly and efficiently, which can then be looked at in real time, or dissected in more detail at a later time.
5G: Taking the Internet of Things to the next level
5G is taking internet use to the next level, and that doesn't only mean interconnecting people, but interconnecting objects, too. Objects, devices and machines are being able to perform at a higher level, delivering new benefits for organisations and individuals. Thanks to 5G's ultra-low latency and huge capacity, the Internet of Things has the perfect partner to change the way we live our lives. Not only will 5G improve our download speeds for videos and images on our smartphones, it will unlock the use of autonomous cars, smart cities and dramatically improve healthcare.
How NFC is influencing the Internet of Things
There are several reasons why NFC looks set to shape the IoT over the coming years. Below are some of the benefits which NFC can provide to the Internet of Things:
Global Smartphone Use:- There are already a few billion NFC enabled smartphones on the market, and experts believe that this number will continue to grow substantially. Smartphone users around the world are already playing an important part in the IoT; the user controlled NFC technology which they carry means they are joining internet networks and playing an influential role in them.
Tap and Go:- The easy network access and opportunities for data sharing which NFC provides to the IoT is made simple through a straightforward method of connecting devices - in many cases, all you need is a simple Tap or Swipe of a device. That means when an NFC device joins an IoT network, there are no data entry requirements or 'handshaking' needed.
Safe and Secure:- NFC can incorporate features which shut out potential eavesdroppers who are intent on compromising the security of data, such as hackers. The potential to build in these additional protections fits in well with the IoT, covering one of its 'weak spots'. Wide open networks can be a problem, but this issue can be negated to some extent by using NFC with the IoT.
User Control:- NFC actions begin with the user, unlike some 'sleeping' connected objects in the IoT network. This 'expressed intent', gives NFC an edge over other forms of connectivity in some respects, and means NFC has an important part to play as a user initiated part of the IoT network.
Adding 'Connectability':- NFC's ability to connect devices which are unpowered or 'sleeping' makes it a valuable asset to IoT networks. Anything from a Keyfob to a Beermat can be connected by embedded NFC tagging, and this ability is able to bring objects into an IoT network regardless of whether they are connected is hard to replicate.
Best for Business
The IoT has made a big impact in the business world, simplifying processes and driving up operational efficiency across a number of sectors; from manufacturing to construction, and healthcare to retail. Right at the core of this development has been NFC, and the two technologies look set to change the way in which we work for years to come.
On the factory floor, parts and products carry Industry NFC Tags which allow them to connect in to the wider IoT network on site. This provides site managers with real time information on product and part numbers and location, allowing them to control production processes to a greater degree and use resources more effectively.
In construction, site managers are able to keep a firm grip on the whereabouts of plant and machinery while tracking the work times of their team members, feeding this information back through the IoT network to their head office. They are able to use our Rugged NFC Enabled Devices, which are capable of withstanding tough environments, as a user controlled element in local IoT networks.
In healthcare, institutions are able to track the number of free beds which they have available for patients at any given time thanks to NFC tagging, and this information can be relayed to other parts of the wider connected network.
Closer to the consumer, retail settings such as high street shops are being revolutionised by the IoT and NFC working in tandem. Stock control is made easier thanks to NFC tagging, while product information can be relayed to customers via NFC Tags embedded in product labels. NFC smartphones allow the IoT network installed in shops to follow the movement of customers on the shop floor, meaning they can track their buying habits and gain insights which can inform for future marketing campaigns.
Happy at Home
Away from the business world, in our houses and apartments, NFC and the IoT are also working together. Smart Homes could come to characterise consumerism in this century - residents are using the IoT to control the heating, electronic appliances, alarms and lighting in their homes, giving us more control than ever.
NFC can play a big part in Smart Homes, offering the ability to pair devices which use varying communication technologies - Wifi and Bluetooth, for instance.
NFC also makes Smart Homes more user friendly, replacing password encryption with a simple Tap or Swipe. For devices with no user interface, such as small appliances or lighting devices, this ability to incorporate them in an IoT network through NFC can be key.
At the centre of the super simple controlled environment which is the modern Smart Home is the NFC Enabled Smartphone. Using it, Smart Home residents are able to maintain their network with the handy user interface provided by smartphone apps. All it takes is a Tap of your phone to monitor usage of meters, run diagnostics or even request a customer service call.
With NFC and the IoT, smartphones can incorporate a growing number of appliances within their network. Take the washing machine for instance - if you have packed it full of clothes but don't want to run a wash late at night because of the noise, you can set the machine to switch on first thing in the morning thanks to NFC. That's just one example of the significant potential carried by NFC and the IoT in a domestic setting.