March 22, 2017

3 unexpected ways IoT is being used right now

We often think of the internet of things as the smart refrigerator that sends a text when we’re low on milk. But several companies, including Arrow, are developing IoT solutions that can do everything from regulating the amount of water a street cleaning machine uses to alerting a rancher if one of their cows is sick.

The innovation will only continue as the market is expected to grow to $1.7 trillion by 2020, with 20 billion more things connected to the internet in the next two to three years.

Several of the most recent innovations were presented at The Channel Company’s IoT Nextgen Roadshow earlier this month near Washington, D.C. The focus was on “Monetizing the Internet of Things,” and Arrow was a premier sponsor. Many of the innovations showed the early potential of IoT for practical purposes, as well as the need for partnerships in IoT.

Here are some of the innovations that were presented:

Using IoT in Farming

When Arrow started developing a racecar in 2013 that used telemetry and sensors to help a quadriplegic former racecar driver reach top speeds and eventually ascend Pike’s Peak, it was only the beginning of what was capable in IoT.

At the IoT roadshow, Shannon Williams, director of Arrow’s enterprise security group, described the company’s IoT Foundry Group, which builds and designs the company’s strategy. The group has spun off several solutions in various verticals, from agriculture to health care.

For example, Arrow worked with Bella Ag, a dairy farmer in northern Colorado, to develop a sensor that goes into the chamber of a cow’s stomach. It alerts ranchers if the cow is sick and needs to be separated from the rest of herd to prevent the spread of disease.

Arrow is working on several early-stage IoT projects with 30 partners similar to Bella Ag, who provides the domain expertise. Arrow provides the sensors, gateway solutions and other technical resources.

“A lot of IoT projects are like snowflakes,” said Williams. “They’re different from each other, so you need partners to help build them out.”

Using IoT in Fracking

Sturdy Networks builds IoT solutions from hardware, including metal-working and electronics, as well as software.

Tolga Tarhan, chief technologist at Sturdy Networks, described how the company, working on AWS’ platform, worked with an oil and gas company to change the way it transports materials to fracking sites. The company wanted to use dry chemicals that would then be converted to liquid using a machine at the site.

Sturdy Networks developed sensors and connectivity solutions that could monitor the quality of that water, as well as the condition of the machine.

Tarhan says building an IoT practice requires a huge focus on engineering since most IoT solutions demand a certain level of customization. Aside from needing a platform on which solutions can be built, technical talent needs to be brought in, including analysts, UX designers, solutions architects, hardware, software/firmware engineers and DevOps engineers.

“You can’t be all things to all people, so partner with companies that provide that expertise,” Tarhan says.

Using IoT in Civil Service

10th Magnitude has been in the IoT space for several years, starting with gadgets for home appraisals that could assess values and stream photos from a device attached to their agent’s car. The company is developing similar solutions and much more.

Brian Blanchard, VP of cloud solutions at 10th Magnitude, explained how the company helped a jurisdiction cut down on how much water its street sweeping vehicles used daily.

Street cleaning in this jurisdiction was done on every street the same way, every day. But since all streets have varying degrees of filth, the process wasted a lot of water. The company added sensors to each machine and captured several data points, including gas and water usage. The analytics were configured in the cloud and pushed back to the customer through a dashboard of visuals.

The data determined that street cleaning vehicles should turn off their water spray if they’re going over 10 mph—it’s too fast of a speed for the water to have its intended impact. (If you’ve ever been stuck behind a street cleaner, you know how slowly they typically go.)

“By notifying the driver in real-time, we saved 150,000 gallons of water,” Blanchard said.

He says the company that makes the street cleaning vehicles was also able to use the data from the 10th Magnitude dashboard in their product research and development, and the jurisdiction was able to update and improve their operations and manuals.

Blanchard recommends asking MSP customers what other devices they own that you don’t manage for them. “Push them to get creative,” he adds. “You can manage anything that has a computer attached to it. Or if there’s no computer attached, partner with a company that can provide a sensor.”

Looking for more guidance on your building your IoT practice? Reach out to your Arrow sales representative.