It's useful to be able to provide concrete examples of how IoT silently intersects with daily life. One great example is cars. Almost every modern car comes equipped with GPS as a standard feature, providing a constant invisible connection to the global information network. But, the features in your average consumer vehicle are just the tip of the automotive IoT iceberg companies like Ontario's Geotab are making a reality.

A rolling Sensorium

At the heart of IoT technology is always the humble sensor. For a thing to be useful online it must have information to share, and that information comes from a sensor of some shape: for example, a state of the art HD camera or a simple toggle switch. Cars, of course, are riddled with sensors measuring everything from speed to tire pressure to whether the seat belts are engaged. For businesses, having remote access to this information is a tremendous advantage when it comes to fleet management.

And, it is small and medium businesses reaping the largest benefits, now that they have access to technology and analytics previously only in the reach of corporate juggernauts. “The largest companies have been collecting this kind of data on their fleets for eight or nine years and making operational changes based on it,” explains Geotab Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing Colin Sutherland. “The cool thing about the new solutions we have today is that now the small business owner can benefit inexpensively from this cloud-based data-processing environment and get answers to the same questions that the Fortune 500 companies have been asking for years.”

Big data provides big answers

The complex reality of maintaining an efficient fleet of vehicles means those questions come in all shapes and sizes. “All businesses that use technology like ours are opting in to use the technology and have goals in mind,” says Sutherland, “whether it's improving safety on the road, helping their drivers know where they are, improving customer satisfaction, improving fuel efficiency, or safeguarding the health of the vehicles.”

As the technology continues to improve, and as very smart people continue to think of new ways to apply it, the role of IoT in cars, trucks, and everything around us is only going to expand. “We are just at the infancy of realizing the capability of the Internet of Things,” says Sutherland.

And, beyond the suite of sensors that come pre-installed in today's cars and trucks, Geotab adds more functionality of their own including, notably,  an accelerometer. This addition opens up even more potential for interesting applications of the technology. “In one case, a public works department is using the accelerometer to automatically detect potholes,” says Sutherland. “As their vehicles are driving around, the vehicle itself goes up and down when it hits a pothole and automatically sends a notification back to the municipality so they can come and fill it. That's pretty cool.”

Even cooler is the wealth of insight that becomes available when the data from all these vehicles becomes shared in the cloud. “If you share your data in an anonymous way it opens up the possibility of comparing statistics like engine idling time not just between your own vehicles but against other fleets of similar composition,” says Sutherland. “That's a powerful way to improve.”

As the technology continues to improve, and as very smart people continue to think of new ways to apply it, the role of IoT in cars, trucks, and everything around us is only going to expand. “We are just at the infancy of realizing the capability of the Internet of Things,” says Sutherland.

As this technology grows up with us, we're looking at a smarter, safer, and more exciting future.