Best IoT Products and Services Worth Watching in 2018

This year we've seen groundbreaking ideas for building connected environments in homes, buildings, vehicles, cities, and entire industries.

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This year’s IoT trends promise more connected devices, infrastructures and environments that transform our everyday life, business operations and industry standards at the international level. Here’s a compact set of time-proven and brand new solutions and products that demonstrate the power of IoT technology can and will power the future connected world.

Smart Agriculture: Drones in Farm Management

Machina Research predicts 225 million connected devices in agriculture by 2024 and foresees large-scale growth of IoT in this sector. Thanks to PrecisionHawk, drones will make up a good part of this growth.

Today, PrecisionHawk offers smart hands-free operated drones for multifunctional field monitoring, mapping and farm management. Armed with an array of plug-and-play sensors for various aerial surveys – thermal, video and visual, hyperspectral, etc., autopilot drones are able to complete hundreds of various missions over the fields, collect data for real-time and comparative analysis, and take consistent shots even in poor weather conditions.

Powered by AI-based navigation tools, PrecisionHawk drones analyze weather and autonomously build the best flight routes to successfully complete missions and land at the same place as they take off from.

How did it get here?

Drone technology for advanced and consistent monitoring is not a new application. However, this set of autonomous sensor-armed devices, mobile apps and advanced data analytics tools deserves special attention. PrecisionHawk platform is a revolutionary approach in farm management.

On one hand, it allows semi-autonomous highly-efficient and most importantly consistent field monitoring and surveying. Drones repetitively collect massive sensor data yearly and enable farmers to make data-driven decisions on next season improvements, strategy and investment. On the other hand, drones provide farmers with fundamentally new views on their fields and help them see the full picture, taking into consideration seasonal weather changes, field health and wear.

See how it works in this video.

Next-gen Energy and Utilities: IBM Analytics in National Grid

The story of IBM and National Grid collaboration started a couple of years ago. Since then, IBM introduced a number of IoT-enabled services that allow one of the world largest utility companies to provide strategic asset management across 350 sites around the UK.

Using IBM cloud-based analytics tools, National Grid successfully performs predictive and preventive analytics and condition-based maintenance. The system allows them to bring together data coming from all NG’s sites and perform integrated analysis and real-time telemetry. As a result, smart asset management helps NG analyze and predict site’s performance, significantly reduce maintenance cost, introduce more efficient strategies to preserve asset health and mitigate possible risks. Together, these efforts contribute to the worldwide initiative of creating the environment based on affordable and sustainable energy.

How did it get here?

IBM and National Grid make a large-scale long-term partnership and constantly evolve the outcomes of mutual cooperation. Apart from creating fundamentally new grid infrastructure, IBM helps NG improve efficiency on site applying innovative cognitive technology.

Just this year, National Grid has launched half a million pound project to introduce the power of IBM Watson into its operations. AI-enabled technology will be able to capture expert knowledge from a large database to provide intelligent responses to queries and drive efficiency and automation to grid operations.

See how it works in this video.

Best Self-driving Car: Ford Wins the Race

This year Navigant Research announced Ford as the leading company developing automated driving systems, leaving highly-buzzed Uber partner Volvo and Google’s self-driving car project Waymo behind. Surprisingly, Tesla has never made it to the top 10, regardless of the sound success at Tesla Model 3 presentation.

Ford has a long history pursuing autonomous vehicles, starting from 2005, according to Business Insider. This year, the company tripled the volume of it’s self-driving car testing, enhanced investment into AI and lidar technology, and expanded partnerships by joining efforts with car-sharing service Lyft. In 2017, the automaker announced a plan to roll out a fleet of fully driverless cars on the roads within the next 5 years.

This year we'll see groundbreaking ideas for building connected environments - connected homes, buildings, vehicles, cities, and the whole industries. Click To Tweet

How did it get here?

Navigant Research applied 10 basic criteria analyzing leading self-driving car makers…

  • vision
  • go-to-market strategy
  • partners
  • production strategy
  • technology
  • product capability
  • sales
  • marketing and distribution
  • product quality and reliability
  • product portfolio
  • staying power

Ford took the first place with solid remote-sensing lidar technology. It applies lasers and uses light reflection to allow a car to highly accurately position itself on existing maps and understand the world around it. Lidar is believed to be the best technology for self-driving cars so far.

See how it works in this video.

Retail 2.0: Intel Helps Levi’s Deal with Inventory

Surprisingly, at the time of emerging game-changing technology in retail and brand new customer journeys, inventory management remains an ugly burning issue that affects all retail brands.

Ever since Levi’s started using Intel’s IoT Responsive Retail Platform, Levi’s found a way to completely eradicate out-of-stock frustration and ensure every visitor in store converts into a customer.

Today, this sensor-based analytics solution allows Levi’s retail chains to automate inventory management, excel merchandising and store layout to bring new customer data to the brand’s analysts and executives.

Powered by Intel’s NFID sensors moulded into store’s ceiling, tracking and analytics platform provides Levi’s employees with real-time data on product availability and location and sends alerts for timely restocking. Moreover, this innovation enables complete transformation of time-consuming manual inventory into faultless real-time product management.

How did it get here?

Simple. Intel’s serious investment into an IoT platform for retail space positioned the computer chip manufacturer as a major IoT enabler in the field. Levi’s, on the other hand, with a nearly 200-year old history, stands among leading retail brands investing into high-end technology to excel customer in-store experience and build new-generation materials. A good example is Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with conductive yarn created in collaboration with Google.

Both companies in the alliance – the jeans trendsetter and technology giant – strongly pursue the approach to transform the industry and related experiences and form the basis for a brand new retail environment.

See how it works in this video.

Connected Home: Apple HomeKit Progress

The biggest challenge behind IoT-based connected home idea remains solid. How can we connect the growing number of different smart devices and create a unified infrastructure within one space?

Apple HomeKit framework seems to solve this problem. Thanks to the Home app and recently rolled out Home Pod speaker, a wide range of smart home devices finally get the language to communicate with each other. While consumers get a unified solution to control and manage their smart homes.

Today, Apple HomeKit enables the producers of smart light bulbs, thermostats, door locks and security systems to build the devices compatible with each other and a one-stop control solution, be it Siri, iPhone, iPad, or Home Pod assistant. Thus, HomeKit aims to solve the problem of yet divided, fractured smart home and create the foundation for a truly connected environment.

How did it get here?

Apple HomeKit continues to evolve with new accessories added to the list of compatible devices every month. Despite the fact that many popular smart home tools, for example Nest family, won’t listen to Siri’s command in the nearest future, HomeKit remains possibly the most solid framework to connect a large variety of smart devices from different manufacturers, including Philips, Logitech, Elgato, August and many others. HomePod launch will put another building stone questioning the leading role of Amazon Echo in the market.

See how it works in this video.

These are some of truly remarkable solutions among 20 billion IoT products and services registered by Statista in 2017. In 2018 we’ll see an escalating number of IoT-enabled devices and groundbreaking ideas for building connected environments – connected homes, buildings, vehicles, cities and the whole industries. It’s going to be really interesting.

The post was originally published at Digiteum.