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Although connected homes and fitness trackers may garner the most PR buzz in the world of wearable technologies, innovating on the IoT offers true promise to solve some of the world’s biggest problems outside of its consumer applications. In fact, a mere 7% of consumers own a wearable device today, and even less (4%) own an in-home IoT device. The majority of IoT sensors actually reside in factories, businesses, and healthcare. When we can track nearly anything, the opportunities are abound in offering true utility to different industries that, today, the general populace may not directly associate with wearable applications.

According to Cisco Systems, by 2020, the amount of Internet-connected things will reach 50 billion, with $19 trillion in profits and cost savings coming from IoT over the next decade. These connected devices and sensors span far beyond the Fitbits on our wrists and Nest thermostats in our homes. From hospitality to farming, we’re already beginning to see the potential of how these connected devices can work in concert to increase operating efficiencies.

Hospitals Explore RFID Potential

A new study by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) reports that healthcare industry plans to spend only 3/10 of a percent of revenue on IoT technology in 2015, but will increase that investment to at least 30% by 2018. This significant increase in spending will likely be attributed, in large part, to RFID deployment. Using RFID transmitter chips, hospitals can now keep tabs on all of their inventory – both human and product. From drug monitoring and patient tracking, to “smart cabinet” inventory and medical equipment management, RFID will be an important asset for the healthcare industry in reducing staff overhead and managing asset supplies efficiently.

Farmers Tackle Seafood Deficit with Sensors

The United States is currently operating at a $11.2 billion seafood trade deficit. In an uphill battle to combat this supply-and-demand gap, Catalina Sea Ranch in Long Beach, Calif., plans to enable its aquaculture fishery with sensor-equipped buoys to collect data about water salinity, temperature, and growth rates of mussels and scallops. This data is then used by the ranch’s farmers to make decisions about what to grow and what changes are needed to keep current conditions operating at peak performance.

International Humane Society (IHS) Monitors, Protects Rhinos

Project RAPID (Real-time Anti Poaching Intelligence Device), supported by the IHS, uses heart rate monitors and satellite signals, combined with real-time video streaming, to protect the world’s endangered rhinoceros population. The animals that are embedded with biometric sensors are monitored 24-7 by anti-poaching teams who are diligently looking for any indication that the rhino’s heart rate is abnormal or spiking as a response to stress. If detected, they then check the video feed provided by a camera implanted in the rhino’s horn to determine if it’s wounded. Wounded animals are rescued via helicopter, sent to their exact GPS coordinates.

Rhino IoT
[Photo credit: Fortune]
Connected Hotels Follow Smart Cities’ and Homes’ Lead

Most consumers have heard of the numerous possibilities to connect one’s home devices to the internet and each other in order to complete a wide array of tasks. Similarly, cities are also using the IoT as a foundation to increase energy efficiency and better allocate municipal services. Now, hotels are slated to follow suit, with the help of CytexOne Hospitality. CytexOne’s hospitality solution will help improve staff productivity and guest comfort via integrated in-room automation, security, HVAC, lighting, energy, video, and wireless systems – all connected to existing hotel IT infrastructure for a one-stop monitoring solution, stored in the cloud. It bills itself as the first of its kind in creating “smart hotels,” and we’re sure other contenders will soon pop up in the hospitality IoT race.

What all of these examples have in common is that innovators are using the IoT as the foundation to solve an existing problem. Insight into long-time industry barriers and previously insurmountable obstacles is the crucial predecessor to any IoT technology solution. Identify what you’re solving and how you’ll measure success before jumping on the bright-shiny-wearable bandwagon. As seen here, often times the simpler the application, the greater (and quicker) the reward.

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