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Using the ‘Internet of Things’ in the office

The idea of the ‘Internet of Things’ was coined in 1985 by developer Peter T. Lewis and today it is starting to become a real possibility in the office. It is widely believed that within the next five years there will be billions of devices connected to the internet that can change the way we live and work.

Potential of the office of things

In a recent Guardian article, they headed to Helsinki to find out just how an innovative business was taking advantage of IoT. They had an issue of toilets being occupied but with a live map of the office, employees now know which bathrooms are free before leaving their desk.

This is the sort of real-time information that could be used across any office and building to help people be identified so you can find them quicker. With the data, you can also get heat maps to see where and when certain parts of the space are busy or empty.

Cisco is one company that have already begun to roll this out across four of their locations in an effort to improve efficiency and convenience. This covers 300 buildings across the world where everything from, climate control, electricity usage and security is controlled.

To sum up, the big potential of this includes:

  • Regulated lighting and heating to cut costs
  • More face-to-face chats and better communication
  • A more secure workplace with a full inventory

Some of the things that you can already buy include security cameras that send live stream to mobile devices, sensitive planters that give you updates on when to water plants and a doorbell that allows you to see and talk to people at the front of your office. Other ideas include window shades, water gauge sensors and smart door locks.

Benefits of IoT

The experiments on IoT are becoming more and more frequent after a Harvard Business Review survey found that 58% believe IoT in the office improves collaboration with productivity going up 54% of the time. 

Some believe that this sort of ‘indoor mapping’ is also a great option for integrating new members of staff quicker. If you enter at a big company, the likelihood is that you won’t know a large number of the employees but this technology will give you names and information direct to a phone.

On top of this, it is believed that the apps could promote wellbeing and experts believe that this is just the beginning. The chief executive of Tech City UK, Gerard Grech, said “we’re merely scraping the surface of what could be achieved if more offices look at how they can adopt the internet of things and data to improve everything from operations to sales, and happiness to product development.”

Internet of things

Image from Wikipedia 

Bigger than we realise

Innovation comes in a variety of forms, and oftentimes we don’t quite understand the sheer potential. In December, Amazon Go was introduced to the world and is the most advanced shopping technology we’ve ever seen – giving the potential to shop without checkouts.

When we hear that machine-to-machine communication can aid the Internet of Things for everyone, just quite how far can it go? In 2007, for example, a bridge in Minnesota was built with smart cement that comes with sensors to monitor any issues with the structure as well as detecting if there is ice on the road.

What to consider before implementing IoT devices

If you’re thinking about bringing the Internet of Things to your office, make sure you consider the following:

  • A Backup Plan
    Not only will you require a backup plan if the power goes out, you’ll also need one for when your WiFi drops (let’s face it, it will inevitably happen at some point). For example, if you opt for security doors that are powered by IoT devices, how will you open them if your WiFi drops?
  • Privacy & Security
    Be careful with the information you track and ensure that it is not easily accessible to hackers. People are comfortable with tracking their own habits when in their own home, but you cannot expect them to feel the same way in the office when it is someone else tracking them. If you do choose to collect personal data, ensure your employees are fully aware and are backing the idea.

What next?

We’re still in the early stages of the Internet of Things, so what we’ve shared here is only the beginning. The IoT isn’t limited to specifically the and it will only continue to grow. It has the potential to impact every industry and aspect of our lives, from transportation through to stock management in stores.

If you’d like to learn more about how the IoT can be used, check out the excellent examples compiled by Postscapes.

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