The role of sensors in the upcoming IoT revolution

By 2030, IoT will help boost incomes by up to 30 percent in the US, but do we understand the fundamental units powering this revolution?
29 October 2018

What sensors power the world of IoT? Source: Shutterstock

In today’s world, everyone is constantly talking about the upcoming internet of things (IoT) revolution and how 5G will enable it.

However, this IoT revolution that we so often talk about wouldn’t be possible without sensors. To be fair, it is the sensors that are powering and driving the IoT ecosystem — and it is these sensors that are going to enable next-gen machine to machine interaction and create a smarter ecosystem of things for people and businesses alike.

More technically speaking, a sensor is the foundational element of IoT because it provides the input required to kick-start an operation that is key to its functioning.

Here are some key sensors that can help businesses create the applications and solutions that can power their production facilities:

# 1 | Temperature sensors

These sensors measure the amount of heat generated by an object or its surrounding area. They’re used in air-conditioners, refrigerators, and similar devices, for environmental control. They also have application in manufacturing processes, agriculture, and health industry.

Temperature sensors can be used almost in every IoT environment.

In manufacturing, for example, sensors are used to monitor the temperature of machines and trigger cooling solutions when things get too hot.

# 2 | Humidity sensors

These sensors are simple. Like temperature sensors, they report the temperature in a room or of an object, and also measure the moisture (humidity) in the atmosphere or around the object.

Humidity can affect human comfort and disrupt several types of manufacturing processes. Hence, monitoring humidity is important.

A humidity sensor can be used in an automated factory etching designs on various metals, at scale. If the humidity rises, the chemical equations in play might be affected, hence, a humidity sensor might help pick up and temporarily suspend operations

# 3 | Pressure sensors

These sensors are used in IoT systems to monitor the doors to an office or a home, and ensure vehicle security.

When the pressure applied to such a sensor goes beyond the threshold level, the device alerts the user about the problems that should be fixed.

In smart cars of the future, hundreds of pressure sensors will help monitor the safety and performance of the vehicle. If, say, a football hits the windshield or a thief tries to pick the lock, the sensors will be able to interpret the signals, determine an appropriate response, and ensure it is reported to the right people.

Sensing the future of IoT

There’s a lot that IoT can do for businesses — and there’s no doubt that they play a major role in the IoT revolution.

According to IBM, low-cost sensors is one of the two factors driving the IoT revolution forward. The other being the developments in network technology.

Several organizations feel that sensors will be crowding our world in the near future as IoT takes off. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum’s estimates, there will be 1 trillion connected sensors by 2022.

Further, the efficiency and productivity gains that the IoT drives is expected to help boost income and living standards, especially in economies such as the US, the UK, and Germany. In the US alone, the IoT is expected to help boost incomes by up to 30 percent by 2030.

Sensors, driving it all, are expected to gain more attention from enterprise users — especially because the more “sensitive” or “smart” it is, the more data it collects about the user — opening up new possibilities while giving rise to new concerns such as data privacy and security, liability, and several others.