IoT: Energy Hog or Energy Hero?

IoT smart devices
Divyanshu Kamboj, January 13, 2015

The definition of Internet of Things (IoT) is how the data from remote sensors and the ever-increasing number of intelligent devices in our world today can be acquired and used to provide autonomous control in a smarter, more efficient way.

The vision for IoT’s success in the energy efficiency space needs to be closely evaluated for its practicality, particularly with respect to the promise it holds for reducing our overall energy consumption. The distinction needs to be clearly established between the comfort and convenience of data availability, and the technological intent for the connected IoT devices to deliver energy savings in the bigger scheme of things.

The rationale for questioning the effectiveness of IoT revolution in improving energy efficiency standards is that the collected growth of connected devices and sensors induces secondary energy drainage due to power inefficiencies of the IoT devices themselves. This includes, but is not limited to, the energy required to collect, process, and analyze the data, where modems, routers, communication devices, and data centers serve as the enabling medium. Therefore, the IoT model should monitor and improve the energy usage of the enabling medium itself, and drive the adoption of high efficiency power electronics that is fueling this avalanche of IoT connectivity.

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Can IoT deliver energy savings or will it be another power drain?

EDN Network, January 8, 2015

While there are many people who question the media hype about the Internet of Things (IoT), what it is and how how significant it will be, most industry insiders agree that this nebulous “thing” has become a reality with potential for enormous growth. Even the lay public has some appreciation for this, having witnessed the growth in Internet connectivity through the evolution in personal computing from laptops, through smartphones, tablets and smart TVs to wearable devices. Certainly Business Insider believes this market will be huge – its 2014 report cites a forecast increase in the number of Internet connections from 1.9 billion devices today to 9 billion by 2018.

Global Internet Device Install

So what’s driving this growth? Well key to its description, the Internet of Things is about the connectivity of ‘Things’, not people. This means it is all about how data from remote sensors and the ever-increasing number of intelligent devices in our world today can be acquired and used to provide autonomous control in a smarter, more efficient way. Arguably some of the applications embraced by the IoT have been around for some time e.g. factory automation with machine-to-machine (M2M) networks that not only ensure a smooth manufacturing flow but also provide back-office data on production rates to facilitate more effective supply chain management.

Other IoT applications include smart metering for electricity, gas and water and even waste management systems, all of which have an environmental agenda. Building management is another example often quoted where sensors monitoring temperature, humidity, ambient light and occupancy can be used to control heating, lighting, air-conditioning, and the operation of doors and windows, etc. While this may make the workplace more comfortable and secure the overriding motivation in installing such systems is to deliver energy savings and hence cost savings.

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