The astonishing pace of expansion in technology and its huge impact on manufacturing production unlocks amazing opportunities to claim R & D Tax Credits. Much of the financial investment necessary for cutting edge innovation is eligible for R&D tax credits and the Internet of Things is all about future tech today.

Most people nod sagely when anyone mentions The Internet of Things and how it is the predecessor to the Fourth Industrial revolution ‘The Industrial Internet of Things’. But do we really know what that actually means? And, more importantly, what its potential impact on our businesses may be.

What is The Internet of Things (IoT)?

This is the phenomenon of different devices, software, computers and machines, ‘things’, all talking to each other via the internet. Data is collected by each ‘thing’, shared instantly through the network and allows individual things to become interconnected. They can also talk to us and particular apps.

It’s title does sound like a chapter heading from a novel and the potential of such technological developments seem like the stuff of futuristic science fiction. But it is real, its growth is remarkably quick and it is not owned by one particular company. It is a concept, not a definitive noun, and its continued evolution does not depend on the triumph of one particular ‘thing’. It is rapid, global innovation with embedded tech at its heart.

Everyday examples

We are already getting used to the Internet of Things permeating our everyday lives. For example:

  • Smart meters that let us control our heating or air con systems from our phones
  • Mobile tracking devices, ‘wearable tech’ used to monitor fitness levels throughout the day (‘counting steps’ sound familiar?)
  • Security systems that connect the cameras in our home or workplace to our phone, so we can see what is happening in real time when we are away

How do we feel about the IoT so far?

As with everything, there are pros and cons to the potential of the IoT. It should help us to be more efficient by giving us more precise control over different elements of our lives; like saving energy and money by using our phone to turn the heating down on an unexpectedly warm October’s day, even though we’re already at work. The potential in many areas is exciting and driven by a desire to improve our lives overall.

But there are mounting concerns over security and privacy; such as ‘others’ being able to remotely activate the camera on your smart TV, computer or smart phone without your knowledge. Developments are so rapid that it does feel like the law and protective measures are playing catch up with such issues. Different sectors will have to address issues that are specific to them, such as the privacy of data collected to use a medication monitoring app.

What does this mean for business?

The term ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is being used alongside the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ to describe the impact of IoT on business. The aim is to make our interactions with data and machines more efficient and, ultimately, more profitable.

Industry is already applying the technology in a number of ways. The manufacturing sector has embraced this most quickly, particularly in the way it tracks processes. This impacts on how machines and tools are used, and how people are organised and monitored. Farming is using sensors to keep track of both animal health and crop development. This is good for animal welfare and evaluating how to increase production.

The ‘Industrial Internet’ combines sensor information, machine-to-machine connections, ‘big data’ analytics, machine learning, automation and any other embedded tech. It is already driving growth in the manufacturing sector by improving safety (for humans), accurately acquiring and applying data, increasing performance efficiency and production sustainability.

What does this mean for the future?

We don’t know what the consequences are of IIoT will be for our businesses yet. Hopefully we can benefit from the savings arising from increased efficiency and that developments in our broader field will have more local applications. Regulations will be written to protect us from the unscrupulous, and the downright criminal, who will find ways to use this new power for bad. We need to keep an eye on both tracks so that we are prepared for the negative while embracing the positives.

Whether you are in Information and Communication, Manufacturing or any other sector of the Industrial Internet, don’t miss out on your future investment from the R&D Tax Credits you are entitled to claim.

 

Darren Moynan