How embracing the IoT could make your business more profitable

With a forecast 80 billion connected devices by 2025, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to transform the way business operates. From AI to VR and the IoT, technology is already having a marked impact on the way businesses maximise profit, improve efficiency and operate.

Virtual reality is making training more accessible and cost-effective

Virtual reality is set to change the way we train our workforces. It enables trainers to deliver learning in an interesting and interactive way. They can present large
amounts of complex information visually, to aid learning and help students retain information.

An additional benefit of virtual reality learning is that it opens possibilities for training large numbers of people remotely, in a virtual setting. The technology could solve accessibility issues for students and save money for training organisations.

>See also: Is 2017 the year the Internet of Things will die?

Virtual reality gives students the opportunity to learn how to work with specialised equipment by creating realistic 3D models. It opens up opportunities to work with machinery that may, in reality, be expensive or difficult to access. People can learn to use machinery in a safe environment with controlled risks.

Vocations where virtual reality could be used in training:
● Surgery simulation
● Architectural walkthroughs and presentations of design concepts
● Emergency services, e.g. paramedic training
● Combat training
● Aerospace engineering
● Air Traffic control
● Flight simulation

Augmented reality is revolutionising retail

Retail is set to transform into mixed reality, with magic mirrors and virtual fitting rooms. The future will see the retail industry become more advanced and more
responsive to customer needs, saving both the retailer and consumer time and money.

Returns cost UK retailers £60 billion a year, 20 billion of which is generated by items bought over the internet and augmented reality has the potential to ease that pressure.

Take Gap for example, who are currently trialling the app, DressingRoom. The application, built in collaboration with Google and San Francisco-based startup Avametric, uses augmented reality to let shoppers “try on” clothes without having to step into a store.

DressingRoom presents shoppers with a virtual 3D model and allows you to try on different outfits. The model can be designed with your measurements to give a more accurate impression of how the clothes would look on your own body.

>See also: 7 industries that will be radically changed by the IoT

Although it is difficult to see how the technology could replace the experience of visiting a store, the visualisation may assist online shoppers to make more informed buying decisions. In turn, this could result in fewer returns.

Meanwhile, in Germany, Adidas’ Berlin pop-up shop will spin you a perfectly tailored jumper while you wait. Based on the results of a body scan and augmented reality pattern creation, the technology will create you a perfectly fitting, one-of- a-kind garment.

Developments like this could see the way we shop change forever. Traditionally, made-to-measure items of clothing come with a hefty price tag. As augmented reality
systems become more common in retail, bespoke items of clothing could become the expected rather than the desired.

Robots cutting costs to services

Society has seen robots being used in factories for some time now. The first recorded industrial robot was completed by “Bill” Griffith P. Taylor in 1937. This amazing feat of engineering was built almost entirely from Meccano parts and was powered by a single motor.

Experts have predicted that the number of industrial robots in use worldwide will rise to around 2.6 million units by 2019. Staggeringly, the international market value for robotic systems is estimated at around 24 billion pounds sterling.

Soon robots may become the norm in the services sector too. Humanoid robots with advanced communication functions are being developed to provide customer
service solutions.

>See also: Safeguarding the future: the Internet of Things

Pepper the robot has taken this one step further. He is said to be capable of recognising human emotions and adapting his behaviour accordingly. In Japan,
more than 140 SoftBank Mobile stores use Pepper as a way of welcoming, informing and entertaining their customers. He even serves them coffee. The robot has also been put to work at a hospital in Belgium and is thought to be the first robot receptionist in the United Kingdom.

Pepper costs only £26,000, just shy of a Brit’s average salary. With that in mind, investing in robotic technology could be a wise money-saving strategy, particularly in
the pricey capital.

While businesses may see the benefit, this could be a frightening prospect for people work in sectors that are under pressure.

In the UK, there are an estimated 1.55 million people employed in the care sector. Carebots are already being developed to tackle the extra strain of our aging
population on health services. From providing daily care for patients in need to interacting with children with learning difficulties, robots have the potential to ease
pressure on our own NHS.

The education system is also struggling to cope with demand in the UK. It is feared that many of the 89,700 administrative and reception roles could soon be

While introducing robots to these industries could save money, the knock-on effect to the economy of replacing these workers is unknown.

Artificial intelligence analysing business processes

As the urban population increases, future retailers will have to find a careful balance between supply and demand. Pressure on stock could be alleviated by the
introduction of Artificial Intelligence to assist with inventory management.

AI technology will allow businesses to identify when stock needs replenishing and stop retailers from over buying products which they can’t sell. The process is far
more efficient than the manual methods currently in place.

>See also: The future of the Internet of Things in the healthcare sector

This extends to manufacturing, where sensors designed to improve data collection and analytics for both stock and machine maintenance are likely to become the
industry standard.

‘Smart manufacturing’ gives businesses the power to capture, analyse and communicate data. Manufacturers can pick up on inefficiencies and problems
sooner, and find solutions quicker. AI has the power to streamline businesses, saving them time and money.

With new technology, comes new considerations

Development in artificial intelligence, AR/VR technologies and robotics are shaping the future of business. Innovative solutions, harnessing the power of the IoT could cut organisations’ wage bills, put an end to surplus stock and improve customer experiences.

>See also: How the Internet of Things is impacting enterprise networks

While this is an exciting prospect, it could also be a scary one. In some industries, experts are predicting that robots could make humans redundant. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla said that: “artificial intelligence is our biggest existential threat.”

Musk who also founded OpenAI, a research organisation which aims to develop safe artificial intelligence that benefits humanity, has sent a clear warning. It’s easy to get swept up in the money-making potential of AI, but there are ethical considerations that are fundamental to protecting our society. There are lots of simple ways AI can improve the operations of a business, however, we must proceed carefully.


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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