The Internet of Things has become as easy as Pi

We are getting used to technology becoming smarter, in every part of our lives. From the remote-controlled energy meter in the house, to the wearable fitness tracker on our wrist and the on-board computer in our car – Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly in all areas of our lives. Now, the question is how businesses can harness this technology and jump on the growth wave. Let’s take a look!

IoT is only getting bigger

57% of small businesses believe that the IoT will have a major impact on their revenue, according to an AVG study. One report estimates that enterprise IoT applications will grow from 5 billion installed devices to 11 billion in the next three years alone.

There is no doubt in any analyst’s mind that IoT as a technology is here to stay, and we’ll only start seeing more ingenious ways of implementing this technology into our lives and businesses.

The role of Raspberry Pi

Here at DCSL, we have taken a keen interest in the rise of Raspberry Pi technology and its role in IoT. For years, this little device was dismissed as a plaything for students when learning to code and experimenting with hardware.

However, thanks to its simplicity and flexibility, it has become a key building block for a wide range of IoT implementations. We now see how organisations are adopting the Pi to perform even highly complex integrations between devices and networks.

What does the Raspberry Pi do?

The Raspberry Pi is actually a miniature computer, no larger than a credit card. It is fully programmable, which means that we can deploy code onto the device itself, rather than using embedded code. This helps to reduce both cost and complexity. The Pi can then be connected to other devices via a Wi-Fi network or wired connection.

Key benefits of using Raspberry Pi in IoT applications

The fact that the device is so small and inexpensive, means that the Pi is something which can be experimented with and tweaked infinitely. (This is also what appealed to students to begin with – but from a commercial point of view, most companies would rather test their solutions on a cheap device than an eye-wateringly expensive one!)

The power consumption is as low as 5-7 watts, which makes it easy to generate enough energy to operate. Also, as it doesn’t have a hard drive, there is no need to worry about any delicate, moving parts that can be damaged through movement or temperature shifts.

Commercial IoT examples of using Raspberry Pi

The size of the Pi alone makes it useful in even small, unobtrusive devices such as CCTV cameras, control panels, thermostats, solar panels or handheld terminals. But despite its modest appearance, the Pi has the ability to process and generate the same amount of data as a laptop computer.

In our experience, there is no industry that couldn’t benefit from the technology of IoT and the flexibility of the Raspberry Pi.

These are just a few examples of suitable commercial applications:

  • Restaurants and Catering
    Food waste is a huge concern which can be mitigated by smart sensors, monitoring what goes in and out of the kitchen.
  • Financial Services
    Smart cash machines, providing additional services and/or analytics, can be of huge benefit to both the provider and the user.
  • Manufacturing
    Sensors in equipment can monitor efficiency, faults or incidents to create safer and more efficient work environments.
  • Retail
    Automated stock level reports from smart shelving and storage can help track buyer behaviour and speed up the re-order process.
  • Logistics and Transport
    Smart tracking of data from vehicles, parcels and people can create hugely valuable insights for client as well as service provider.
  • Security and Care
    Smart checkpoints for field workers can help monitor frequency of site visits and speed up the reporting process.
  • Infrastructure
    IoT is already used on a large scale in the monitoring of roads, traffic lights, railways and more.

The cloud is the limit

One of the reasons why we are taking such a strong interest in IoT and the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi is how it can provide an organisation with the limitless benefits of cloud computing.

The ability to collect and share large amounts of data without having to invest in huge storage solutions means that a small business has the same ability to compete as the big IT giants do. All you need is a market requirement, a good business offering and a reliable IT partner.

Don’t take our word for it

We are seeing an upsurge in IoT requirements here in the UK, but we know that this is a trend that resonates globally. In a 2014 study, Forrester established that enterprises are seeing the following business benefits of IoT:

  • 49% – better customer experience
  • 46% – supply chain optimisation
  • 45% – supply chain visibility
  • 45% – loss prevention
  • 44% – cost efficiencies