Consumer: FEATURE ARTICLE

Plant Care? Cattle Tracking? Exploring IoT Sensors’ Unexpected Uses

The Internet of Things (IoT) has tremendously grown over the past decade. To wit: IoT Analytics predicts that, by 2025, there will be approximately 27 billion connected IoT devices around the world. Of course, with this continued growth comes expanded applications and use cases. 

When people think about IoT, typically the first applications that come to mind are the classics: asset tracking, energy monitoring or smart metering. And it makes sense – the common thread in these applications is bringing digital visibility into important logistics and various utility situations, which is where IoT works best. Aside from the most common uses, let’s explore some of the unexpected use cases in which IoT plays an important and transformative role – from healthcare to plant care to cattle tracking and beyond.

Patient Care

As the COVID-19 pandemic shifted most aspects of lives online, healthcare was no exception. A regular doctor’s appointment or checkup switched from in-person to virtual. Doctors could prescribe new medicines with just an online consultation, eliminating the need for patients to travel to their local doctor’s office and risk catching the virus. As the world begins to return to a familiar level of normalcy, smart hospitals and solutions that continue to improve patient safety and experience are essential, and increasingly popular. 

According to Statista, the smart hospital market is forecasted to reach a value of $83 billion by 2026, with remote medicine management, electronic health records, clinical workflow, and outpatient vigilance being the largest segments contributing to the market’s revenue. As healthcare providers continue to face budget and time pressures, low power, long range IoT devices can provide improved patient experience and safety.  

Ontex, a leading international personal hygiene group, developed an IoT-enabled diaper tag that sends an alert to a caregiver’s app to let them know when the pad needs to be changed. The smart diaper solution features a printed sensor, transmitter, which is clipped onto the diaper, and a mobile or web application, which can accurately determine the saturation level of the diaper. Ontex’s smart diaper improves patient experience, allowing caregivers to know immediately when it needs to be changed, and allows hospitals and elder care facilities to have more control, saving time and resources. The smart diaper solution also grants caregivers and patients more autonomy to move freely over longer distances since the sensor is able to provide secure coverage over long ranges. 

Plant Care

How many times have you had a plant die even though you were following specific directions on how to water it? External conditions such as temperature, humidity, and soil quality all play an important role in plant survival, so knowing the conditions of plants and their environments is valuable. Florja, an IoT plant management platform, allows users to monitor the status of their plants from anywhere. Utilizing connected sensors, users can actively measure temperature, humidity and salt levels found in the soil. The measurements are sent to the Florja platform on a desktop or smartphone for further analysis. 

Smart plant care is applicable to at home plant enthusiasts transforming their home office into a jungle, or to large scale businesses that require real-time information, automated and intelligent plant care advice or a smart irrigation system. IoT sensors help to increase yield, improve efficiency of water and irrigation, and make plant care more sustainable. 

Cattle Tracking

Within the livestock business, cattle serve as the farmers’ assets, and tracking them is equally as important as knowing where goods are along their transportation route. Smart Paddock is an Australian company that provides smart tags for the livestock industry. The smart tags provide farmers with real-time information such as the livestock’s location, and analyzes the cattle’s behavioral data to solve real-world livestock management issues. 

In order to ensure that the smart ear tag could accurately track and trace cattle across the land while keeping the device low cost for customers, Smart Paddock manufacturers turned to long range, low power IoT solutions. With the device’s long distance capabilities, cattle can roam the acres freely while the producers can actively and remotely gather information on their herds’ location and behavioral patterns. In addition to the safety of the animals, the IoT-enabled tags are shaping the future of farming to be smarter, more efficient and more sustainable. 

Endless Innovation

With smart IoT sensors, there are endless opportunities for innovation. Low power, long range sensors are able to reach greater distances with lower power, making them ideal for a variety of applications that make our world smarter and more efficient. IoT sensors equip users with more information than ever before, allowing timely action to take place in order to save time, money and resources. In the future, we can expect to see a continual increase in connected IoT devices as well as unexpected applications – all in the name of making life easier and smarter. 

Marc Pegulu is the vice president of IoT, Wireless and Sensing Products at Semtech.


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