Cognitive Computing

The Promise of IoT Just Got a Little Brighter for Everyone

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We are quickly moving from a physical world to a digital world, and thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), data has become the key to business success and new levels of consumer satisfaction.  

In the Cognitive Era, the IoT, applied at scale, can potentially decrease traffic and energy use across a city, and increase safety and efficiency across that same region.

Right now, IoT, sensors and devices are generating data at an incredible pace and it’s being put to use in ways that are directly affecting the lives of people.  

For example:

  • Oil rigs have as many as 30,000 sensors that allow businesses to better monitor the health and behavior of critical machinery. As a result, they can avoid unexpected downtimes that could drive a spike in oil prices.
  • A facility services firm like ISS can deploy sensors on plate dispensers so kitchen staff can ensure that a company’s employees get their favorite dishes while at the same time avoiding costly wastage.
  • With as many as 300 million unique parts on an airplane, airlines can use sensors to obtain detailed information on anything from the status of engines and the landing gear to potential turbulence. With this insight, they can ensure that flights are not only on time, but are also free of turbulence, making for better travel experiences.

This data has tremendous value, but its relevancy has a limited audience. The fact that a person’s flight is on time and “turbulence free,” for example, is extremely important to airlines and their passengers.

But not all data is the same. Some has far greater reach and a more pervasive influence.

Take weather.

No person or thing in the world is not affected by weather. It affects everyone and everything, from a person’s mood, the growth of crops, the production of energy to the flight plan of a plane bound from Japan to London.

With such incredible influence, the more we can understand about weather and its influence the better.

This is why the marriage of IoT and weather is so important. The combination allows us to connect weather with other pieces of data to give us a richer source of information. It puts every piece of data into a new context and allows organizations to learn at an accelerated rate, transform how they run their businesses and benefit the lives of people.

Or take the connected car. Currently a GPS system helps get us from point A to point B in the fastest time possible, taking into account traffic patterns, road closing and other factors.

But what if weather was added to the equation? Now rather than just avoiding bumper-to-bumper traffic, drivers are alerted to approaching rainstorms, reported patches of black ice or sun glare. It’s information like this that helps eliminate potentially costly accidents and possible injury.

What about the smart thermostat?

We’ve all read about them and many of us have them installed in our homes right now. These incredible devices learn about us. They know to turn the heat up when we get home and to cool things down when we head to work.

But the potential is far greater. By connecting in weather data, these devices could turn on the central air system automatically — based on suddenly clearing skies that have hit the area. Now when you get home on a 90-degree day, your house is at an ideal temperature.

And the list goes on and on.

Consider, of all things, elevators. What do elevators have to do with weather?

Just ask the people at KONE. Let’s say a snow storm is about to hit downtown Chicago. With this insight, the elevators at a local mall will know to expect higher-than-normal traffic from people looking to get out of the elements.

With this insight, they can change the lighting and music in the elevator to uplift spirits, increase the temperature to warm up riders, change the interactive ads in the elevator to display sales taking place now, including deals on everything from sweaters to trips to warmer destinations.

No matter what the weather, when it comes to the IoT, adding weather data to every connected device is elevating the digital age to entirely new levels.

Tweet this: Read about the promise of the Internet of Things that @harrietgreen1 of @IBM sees @Forbes.

To learn more about the new era of business, visit 

Former CEO & Chair of IBM Asia Pacific

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