Optiscan's Vision on How the Internet of Things is Changing the Logistics Industry

Internet has become such an interwoven part of our lives that most of us could not think of living without it. Until now the net has mainly been a place for searching information and communicating with your friends and colleagues. In other words it has been used for communication between humans or between humans and computers. That is about to change. Actually, we are in the starting stages of probably the biggest change in communication since the invention of the printing press - the era of ubiquitous machine to machine communication.

We are quickly heading towards a time where everything is connected to the Internet: shoes, shirts, glasses, kitchen appliances, beds, homes, cars, and even the roads you drive on. In fact, the number of net-enabled devices surpassed the number of human users already in 2008. By 2020, it is estimated that over 50 billion individual devices will be online, everywhere, all the time.
That´s more than 7 times the entire human population.

Besides being online, the devices will be equipped with sensor elements that can see and sense the world around them. Your glasses will be able to detect where you are and who you are looking at, and what the weather is like. Your car will know where you are going and when you will get there, and your house will be aware of how many persons are home today and what you had for dinner. More importantly all these objects will be able to communicate their findings to other devices that might be interested in this information, automatically, without human involvement. For example your car will be able to communicate with the road infrastructure to inform about its route plans and in return it can get information about the traffic situation and conditions ahead. This is called the Internet of Things, IoT.

Initially IoT might sound like just another step in the evolution of electronic gadgets, and thereby interesting only for the producers of mass consumer devices. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact that we will be surrounded by smart devices that are able to see what´s happening and to communicate it to the rest of the world will have profound implications. The new infrastructure will generate vast amounts of new, valuable data that can be used for a wide range of business benefits. It is a world that requires a powerful technology infrastructure that can collect data securely from hundreds of thousands of end points, handle huge amounts of data affordably, and provide powerful real-time analytics to those needing it.

As with all complex technological ecosystems, several enabling factors need to mature simultaneously to enable a global breakthrough.

Standardization - As the development of global standards evolves and the number of communication providers, device manufacturers and software companies grows, it becomes easier to build interoperable solutions.

Lowering cost- The price of smart sensors and networking components is falling rapidly as new manufacturing techniques create economies of scale.

Ubiquitous networking - Affordable high-speed wireless data networks and globally accessible computing resources in the cloud extend the reach of IoT applications. Introduction of new low-energy communication technologies such as Zigbee and Bluetooth Low-Energy (LE) will facilitate direct communication between devices close to each other.

Technological development - Advances in technology will improve the performance of the technical components and reduce costs. Improved battery capacity and power management allows devices to run for longer periods of time between charges. Development of data management mechanisms suitable for storing and processing unprecedented amounts of data to provide meaningful analysis will be paramount in unlocking the values of IoT.

IoT will have a great impact on the way companies track and develop their processes and interact with customers. While the benefits are potentially huge, enterprises in the forefront will need to consider how to overcome technical challenges brought by introducing intelligent devices into their existing infrastructures.

Optiscan, together with our global business partners such as Zebra and Honeywell are ready to support our customers in the development their IoT roadmaps. We help our customers get more visibility into the identification, location, and condition of products, assets, or people to enable more effective and timely business decisions and to improve customer interactions.




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