Web 4.0 is in many ways both a tool in itself, and an enabler of many other tools – a symbiotic relationship of technology to technology and technology to human integration built to enable and better a future.

By way of background, IoT (which stands for Internet of Things) was minted in 1999 by Kevin Ashton who worked in the supply chain area of Proctor and Gamble. Kevin wanted to get the company involved in the advancements of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and wanted a way to express the concepts to his management team.

RFID stood to allow significant improvements in inventory management essentially by replacing barcodes on items. RFID “tags” (stickers with a small chip inside them) would allow for the inventory of items to be taken by scanning an entire pallet’s contents with a single scan. The RFID tags would then transmit their presence back to the RFID reader and the reader would be able to collect all of the signals and essentially perform a count and inventory of the palette in a matter of seconds.

There was an old story of a frozen food company that would intentionally send out pallets of frozen peas to grocery stores that were supposed to contain 400 bags of peas per pallet. However, knowing that no one would ever count the number of bags of peas in each supermarket when the inventory arrives, they started to leave 10 bags of peas off each pallet to increase profits. The RFID tag stood to change the evil ways of the frozen pea industry forever and eventually it did.

Since the time of RFID introduction, IoT has come a long way and moved so far away from RFID that most would almost not even recognize it as the same concept.

In many ways, the best way to explain IoT is not to look up the definition of what an IoT sensor is or the technology behind it, but more to look at user-cases and the things we use every day to best understand it.

So where is IoT being used today:

  1. The Smart House: Anyone doing renovations or building a new house, would know that there are a ton of options available now that directly involve the use of IoT. Be it smart thermostats, security cameras, or power plugs that can be activated, viewed, and controlled from your phone – these devices are all part of the growing IoT ecosystem.
  2. Smart Agriculture: Farmers are increasing their reliance on sensors that can check soil composition, moisture, or signs of disease – and when combined with drone technology to fly over crops using imagery and collecting additional data, the agricultural world is seeing major improvements in crop yield and profitability.
  3. Wearables: Wearables are a class of IoT technology all their own and the market is simply gobbling this technology up at each new stage of its growth. Everything from Fit Bits to cardiac rhythm and UV sunburn monitors all fall into the wearable IoT category. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing IoT markets in the world.

The growth of IoT has been massive, and not only in consumer areas such as health and smart houses but also as a part of the WEB 4.0 industrial revolution and its use in heavy industry like oil and gas. In fact, according to McKinsey, IoT has the potential to make an impact of nearly 1 Trillion dollars in the next 10 years in the oil sector alone. One of the things about IoT is that the best implementations of IoT are often not highly visible but are definitely highly impactful.

So how does IoT influence our daily activities in the oil and gas sector if we don’t see it? The better question might be, how doesn’t?

A great example of IoT being used by the oil sector is an Australian super-major who recently developed their own sensors to deploy to gas plants in Australia. The sensors will collect a wealth of information including temperatures, flow rates, and vibration activity, and transmit this information in real-time back to its monitoring bases.

This data will be flowing in real-time – not days or weeks after an event, extremely dynamic, continually growing, and relentless in its flow. In fact, the effects of this innovation will likely result in the need for rapid change in the training of data managers, changes to their data model, and the need for completely new types of data capture.

The data being captured now in the oil and gas sector is moving from present and past data content, to predictive data types for events that have not even occurred – particularly in the predictive maintenance areas. The aim is to not only know what is happening right this second but what is likely to happen in a few weeks, months, or years.

Though the future may feel far away, the introduction of when working with real-time data means it’s only just around the corner.