Here’s how big data and the Internet of Things work together: A vast network of sensors on everyday devices collect a boatload of information. That data is then used to improve services and products in various industries, which in turn generate revenue from those products and services.
And the flow is speeding up: One estimate says there will be over 27 billion IoT connections by 2025.
What is IoT in Big Data?
What Is IoT Data?
IoT devices are used in a wide range of businesses and industries, which result in large quantities of diverse data. Most IoT devices are able to collect data from their environment, like smart speakers listening to commands or industrial drones collecting data on crop conditions. The collected data is fed back to corporate servers where businesses can use it in countless ways.
Companies may choose to only use the data at the time of collection — to map the weather in real time, for example — and immediately discard it after use. Companies could also store the collected data so they can analyze it later. Either use case can be considered to be dealing with big data. There is no one way of handling IoT data, just as there is no single way to create an IoT device.
Big data is helping to make sense of the billions of real-time data points collected by IoT devices. Big data analytics platforms take unstructured data — on anything from traffic patterns to home efficiency information — collected by IoT devices and organize information into digestible datasets that inform companies on how to optimize their processes.
It’s no wonder, then, that companies harness the power of combined IoT and big data capabilities. We rounded up some of the most innovative applications of these technologies below.
IoT Data Examples
IoT Data in Agriculture
The use of IoT devices is a natural fit for this industry, which relies heavily on carefully monitoring a large number of factors to optimize harvests and reduce spoilage and waste. Monitoring is traditionally done manually, but IoT devices have the potential of making monitoring easier and more consistent, especially on large farms. IoT devices can be applied to a wide variety of tasks across every aspect of the agricultural process.
Location: San Francisco, California
With The Climate Corporation’s FieldView software, users can collect and store data about their fields and even transfer historical data to or from other platforms and equipment manufacturers. The company’s related FieldView Drive connects farm equipment to an iPad via Bluetooth so users can collect and store data that’s pertinent to crop planting and maintenance. Other field data can be gleaned via monitors dubbed Precision Planting 20/20 SeedSense and Precision Planting YieldSense.
Location: Creve Coeur, Missouri
Aker Technologies’ TrueCause device helps farmers locate and identify diseases by taking pictures from inside crop fields. The company also uses drones to monitor crop fields from above. Images are then analyzed on Aker’s platform, which outputs results of any damage from insects, disease and other factors. The system shares scouting reports with those who aren’t on the platform, supports the downloading of scouting data and even functions offline in the event of internet failure.
Location: Byhalia, Mississippi
TempuTech’s connected systems monitor optimal grain storage and potential hazards in systems such as grain elevators, including dangerous conditions that might require manual aeration or fanning to avoid spoilage. The collected data is transmitted to farm operators, who use it to predict weather-driven changes in moisture and temperature.
Data Analysis and IoT Infrastructure
Once data flows in from IoT devices, the infrastructure has to be in place to analyze it. That infrastructure can be built internally or provided through an external service, but ultimately it enables a company to gain important insights and turn data into useful information.
Location: New York, New York
Location: Santa Clara, California
Cisco Jasper’s customizable cloud-based IoT platform — which connects all kinds of devices all over the world — helps companies launch, manage and monetize their services.
Location: Denver, Colorado
HarperDB’s IoT enterprise database solution was built to handle big data with the ultimate goal of helping companies learn more about their physical assets by directly collecting and analyzing data in real-time.
IoT Data in Logistics and Planning
Logistics is another industry where IoT adoption can provide a significant competitive advantage. In an industry that tracks a dazzling array of items around the world, IoT devices allow companies to monitor shipments in real time and incorporate data on route conditions into decisions that can save a lot of time and money.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
An on-demand consulting and training marketplace, Harvard innovation lab Experfy currently offers training on many applications of IoT, including courses on smart manufacturing, cybersecurity and even one targeted at business executives. This way, the platform can pair businesses with potential candidates who have the skills and background knowledge to fill specialized roles.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Tive’s cloud platform employs cellular trackers so users can keep tabs on a shipment’s location and condition in real time via an array of connected devices. That includes the tracking of high-value goods, monitoring the condition of chemicals and damage from handling. Users can also receive damage alerts for electronics shipments, avoiding port delays and much more.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
UPS has outfitted its massive delivery fleet with sensors that each record hundreds of data points. The result is less fuel consumption and a diminished impact on the environment. According to Forbes, UPS’s On-road Integrated Optimization and Navigation system uses “advanced algorithms [to] create optimal routes for delivery drivers from the data supplied by customers, drivers and the vehicles, and can alter the routes on the fly based on changing weather conditions or accidents.”
IoT Data in Operations Monitoring
IoT devices are also used for monitoring business operations, which works especially well in industries that incorporate manufacturing or need to keep track of physically measurable components. Using IoT to monitor can ease the strain on employees and help companies streamline their processes.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
PTC equips manufacturers with the ability to monitor and improve their processes, thanks to ThingWorx. This industrial IoT platform connects devices and compiles data with a suite of applications, allowing businesses to gain a holistic view of their operations. This way, manufacturers can gain faster IoT insights and make changes that ramp up production and increase revenue.
Location: San Ramon, California
GE Digital helps companies envision and realize a more efficient factory with its Proficy Smart Factory systems. While Proficy Plant Applications monitors automated tasks and gathers data, Proficy Orchestration Hub verifies and distributes the latest product manufacturing updates. As a result, businesses can develop more cost-effective and streamlined processes without sacrificing the quality of their products.
Location: Palo Alto, California
Through its Datonis Manufacturing Intelligence Suite, Altizon helps companies apply machine data to business decisions. In addition to more quickly linking a disparate array of machines and “launching new applications over a hybrid infrastructure with edge computing,” the company’s platform “provides a set of ready-to-go business value apps, enterprise integrations and data services for operational intelligence.”
Tammy Xu contributed reporting to this story.