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Smart IoT 2020 event roundup

By Lucy Clayton, O2 Head of Thought Leadership & Innovation Marketing

World events in recent months have led many people to consider new ways of living, working and supporting communities. And this makes some of the lessons from Smart IoT 2020 in early March more relevant than ever.

Smart IoT is the industry event for all things Internet of Things (IoT). And O2 was there to see first-hand the growing number of use cases linked to changes in healthcare, utilities and daily life in general.

From the keynote presentations to the exhibitors in the hall, one thing was clear. Organisations are looking for ways to make life easier by connecting thousands of devices more easily. So this was the ideal event to launch our LTE-M network. Before, these organisations would have to rely on unlicensed and unsecure networks.

With LTE-M, anyone can connect long-life IoT devices on O2’s low-power wide-area network. Which suddenly makes IoT more affordable, more secure and ready to roll out nationally. And this boost for everyday use cases was also the key theme on our stand at Smart IoT.


A tale of two situations

On the O2 stand were two great examples of IoT in action. One focused on smart spaces and workflow efficiencies from CrimsonTide. The other focused on healthcare from Navigil.

CrimsonTide’s Toby Hawkins joined O2’s Hiran Ravat on stage to remind us all that we should think of IoT as being as much about data as it is about devices. A core challenge for businesses is that they are trying to react to old data, he explained.

When devices cannot be connected to a central office in near to real-time, the information quickly becomes out-of-date. LTE-M literally changes the game. As a low latency technology, it allows for real-time communications. Which means you can gather the information you need straightaway and make instant decisions.

On a very simple level, Toby explained how this kind of connectivity and data use could be combined to improve everyday workflows. An event centre could detect ticket machine failures and quickly address them to prevent long queues.

Promotional presentation ‘bins’ could be monitored remotely to check stock levels. Washrooms could be made smarter, with sensors tracking soap levels, the cleanliness of toilets and the amount of waste piling up. This would lead to cleaning on-demand rather than costly regular checks – improving efficiencies and brand reputation for the event owners.

Navigil, on the other hand, has built a business on a much more specific use case. Its wellbeing wristwatch is helping elderly people or those with dementia live independently for longer. It monitors vital signs and safe zones at home to check the individual is okay. It tracks wellbeing indicators and makes recommendations for personal improvements. And it comes with a speaker and mic so people can get in touch with an emergency contact if they’ve had a fall or get lost.

Now that they can run on LTE-M, the watches are smaller and don’t need to be charged so often. All of which has a positive effect on those who might otherwise not leave the house or would have to move into sheltered accommodation much sooner. The same technology could be employed by healthcare providers to monitor the safety of lone workers out in the community.

The idea that LTE-M extends the use cases for IoT technology was confirmed by a fellow stand-mate. The Strawberry Energy smart bench is an outdoor seat with a difference. Powered by 100% solar energy, these are standalone yet multi-purpose ‘devices’. They offer people a free wifi hotspot and phone charging platform. And with built-in sensors that monitor air quality, temperature, humidity and noise, they can easily become a key component of any emerging Smart City.


Right here, right now

The breadth of IoT applications on show at Smart IoT 2020 was phenomenal. The likes of CradlePoint and Invisible Systems offered glimpses of pervasive IoT. The latter is using IoT to support behavioural change. By highlighting how much energy was being wasted at Disney’s European fulfilment centre, it reduced electricity bills by 32% and gas bills by 35%.

This tied together neatly with the way O2’s partner ASL is helping utility companies get smarter. Among other applications, ASL uses IoT to provide smart metering services for commercial and industrial energy customers. With instant updates on usage, these companies can make changes to the way they consume power.

Smart IoT was also a showcase for industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Forcam argues that plenty of effort has gone into optimising Product Lifecycle Management and Enterprise Resource Planning processes (the ‘top floor’). Yet little has been done in commercial aviation or car manufacturing to address the thousands of processes on the ‘shop floor’. Even being able to correct simple errors early on could save hundreds of millions further down the line in replacement parts or product recalls.

We saw examples of IoT improving everyday life too. CradlePoint’s wireless edge networking services are designed to connect simple monitoring technology. For example, remote kiosks that allow banks to create pop-up ATMs and keep tabs on the cash inside. Or digital signage that can be altered to match passing trade. Plus, a very interesting example of how IoT is monitoring the health of plants on a living wall in Camden.

Advancis had what seemed to be a standard building management system. After asking a few questions, it turned out to be anything but ‘standard’. The system uses small buttons (like those everyone thought we’d have on our fridges by now). These buttons can monitor specific elements relating to a building’s atmosphere. Radon, TVOC, CO2, humidity, temperature and pressure are all covered. The facilities team is then alerted to any abnormalities.

And while this may seem to be just the future of building management, it could be the future of museums too. Curators can use these buttons to ensure the humidity levels don’t rise too high to degrade the precious paintings in a gallery. They could be used to monitor whether a car engine is overheating. Or who’s using what in your home while you’re away. They could even be used by remote engineers who need the instructions to print a spare part via a portable 3D printer, so they don’t have to make a repeat visit.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. With O2’s LTE-M network, IoT does not need to remain confined to localised use cases. Thanks to its low-power, low latency technology, LTE-M can change the way national businesses, entire communities and universal healthcare services are provided. And it has come at just the right time.

The key takeaway from Smart IoT 2020 was that the industry is building up a head of steam. Armed with new forms of connectivity like LTE-M, the use cases on show proved that this is a watershed moment for the Internet of Things.

As one delegate put it, “Until recently, IoT has been ‘nice-to-have’. Now, it’s becoming ‘must-have’.”


To find out how we can help you get the most from your IoT, contact us today.


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