How robots are extending the scope of IoT applications

The learning potential of robots and the interconnectivity benefits of IoT applications promise a fruitful marriage for the future

13Jun

Considerable interest is being paid to the impressive rise of the IoT, which has the unfortunate consequence of blinding many business owners to the ever-expanding potential of robotics. While seemingly limitless ink has been spilled on the subject of how IoT applications are important and must be embraced by businesses, precious little has been said about how robots can greatly extend the scope of IoT applications.

Is it true that intelligent machines can help us tap into the true potential of the IoT? Here is how robots are already extending the scope of IoT applications and why they will be increasingly important to the future of connectivity.

Robots and the IoT are vastly different

While they share a handful of similarities, robots and IoT are ultimately vastly different innovations. Until you understand how they differ, you cannot possibly hope to grasp how they can come together to bolster one another’s market potential. IoT applications are inherently specific – they are made to deal with specific, narrowly-defined problems and often process data in vastly different ways than robots do. Whereas many IoT applications rely on cloud computing in order to get by, robots often process data locally too, further elucidating how inherently different they are than their IoT counterparts.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to assert that robots and IoT applications cannot be combined just because they happen to be designed for different purposes. IoT applications which have little intelligence on their own, for instance, can be bolstered by the inclusion of intelligent robots which are more autonomous and capable of dealing with strange situations as they arise. By coupling robots into our existing IoT networks, we can offer consumers and businesses alike new services which will impress them while generating serious revenue all the while.

According to the World Economic Forum, this process is already underway; robots are being combined with narrow IoT applications for home improvement purposes, for instance, with clever robot assistants becoming less of a fantasy idea as a direct result of this wise pairing. Given that robots can freely move about their environment and often come equipped with more specific sensors than narrow IoT applications, they can be seamlessly ingrained into the modern household and business environment to the benefit of humans who reside there. Disabled homeowners may have IoT sensors detect a visitor on their property before having a robot sent out to open the door or greet them, for instance, whereas business conferences in the future will be greatly facilitated with a combination of robotics and IoT applications.

IoT applications and robots in industry

A fine example of how IoT applications and robotics are being paired to bolster human wellbeing can be found in the field of healthcare. Already, hospitals and private healthcare providers around the country are mulling how to best go about digitizing their operations to collect more patient data, which can in turn be used to introduce helpful robots into the medical environment.

Tech giants like Samsung are going to great lengths to combine the power of the IoT with robotics to change the future of the healthcare industry, which they believe will be largely tech-driven. IoT sensors in the near-future may determine when patients are in distress and send robotic nurses to deliver them medication or enable them to have a face-to-face video chat with a medical professional who is otherwise unable to reach the patient. Thus, healthcare service providers of the future will find it much easier to grapple with the rising number of citizens who find themselves in need of healthcare services.

The field of healthcare is not the only realm of human affairs that is about to be greatly upset by the introduction of robotics working hand-in-hand with IoT applications, either. Industrial robotics was once defined by unadvanced, dull machines that handled mundane task more efficiently than human workers ever could. The future of industrial robotics, however, will be defined by much more complex robots which rely on IoT applications to feed them steady streams of easily-manageable data.

For example, Amazon's warehouses have combined the machine learning potential of robots with the communicative benefits of the internet of things. These warehouse robots navigate independently by reading barcode stickers on the floor and communicate to avoid collisions with one another while picking and packing online orders.

Recent studies by Stratistics MRC have consistently forecasted a CAGR of 30.4% for the global market for the internet of robotic things, so the adoption of these applications should not be expected to slow down anytime soon. As narrow IoT applications become more capable of feeding useful data to robots which need said information to capably navigate their environments and achieve their goals, these intelligent machines will grow to become even more crucial facets of our economy.

Internet-enabled machines are simply better

Robotics has always been an impressive field capable of wowing everyday people and tech experts alike, but the innovations we have seen thus far will pale in comparison to what is yet to come. Internet-enabled machines are simply better than their older counterparts which are incapable of integrating with the sensors and other machines in their nearby environment. As the robots of the future become more capable of connecting to the web and working with the machines and sensors around them, we will see machines that are not as expensive to build yet nonetheless function better than their more expensive ancestors.

IoT-aided robotics still has a long way to go, but the impressive progress we are seeing made on a daily basis indicates that baffling innovations will be here sooner rather than later. Businesses and IT specialists which have been ignoring the ever-growing union between robotics and IoT sensors need to wake up and realize that the future of the marketplace will be determined by IoT applications which pair seamlessly with clever, autonomous machines which are not so reliant on cloud computing.

The future of robots lies in their being considered "things" which can be connected to other IoT devices and sensors around them. By combining the power of these two technologies, we will be more capable than ever before of making use of the huge sums of data we produce every day. Perhaps even more importantly, the increased reliance on robots across the marketplace will greatly expand the scope of most IoT applications, helping deliver increased connectivity and efficiency to us all.

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