The market for Internet of Things (IoT) solutions is expected to reach US$7.1 trillion by 2020, according to an IDC report. This is because more businesses are implementing IoT to simplify and/or improve work processes.
"[IoT solutions can] help businesses make sense of data to optimise operations, manage assets, rethink products and services, and transform customer experience," said Pankaj Lunia, IoT Solutions Leader, ASEAN, IBM Watson, at the recent IBM Pop Up Labs in Singapore.
He went on to share how three companies have benefitted from IoT.
The first is a manufacturer of airplane parts, which used IBM's Watson IoT solution to make its operations more intelligent. The manufacturer is now able to track how long it takes to produce each aircraft equipment, and quickly detect problems. It is also able to gain insights on workers' well-being, therefore improving safety in the workplace.
Lunia also claimed that IoT could help improve patient care in hospitals. Last year, IBM and the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital jointly launched cognitive rooms in the hospital.
The rooms are equipped with speakers powered by the Watson IoT platform, which features cognitive computing and natural language capabilities. Patients can thus talk to the speakers to obtain details of their hospital stay -- such as information on hospital facilities and the background information on their physician -- as well as control lights and window blinds in their room.
"The Watson IoT-powered speakers give our patients the ability to interact in natural language to get basic, but important, information about their hospital visit without having to buzz in for a nurse. This can help increase the well-being and care of our patients," said Neil Gomes, vice president for Technology Innovation and Consumer Experience at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, in a press release.
Another industry that could benefit from IoT is the retail sector. Lunia gave the example of British retailer Tesco using an augmented reality mobile app to improve store operations.
Before trialling the mobile app, Tesco's employees had to manually check products on every shelf against a physical plan and log inventory levels.
The mobile app digitises and automates this process. Once an employee takes a photo of an aisle, the app's image recognition feature will analyse it and identify products. The app then compares that display with the planned arrangement in Tesco's database, and immediately superimposes information that reveals insufficient quantities, missing products or misplaced items.
"The IBM application helps us to improve store operations beyond the current manual processes and barcode-based methods. Delivering a better shopping experience to our customers includes making sure products are well stocked and easy to find," said Mike McNamara, CIO, Tesco, in a press release.
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