Defining the Internet of Things is like describing a platypus: a complex, highly adaptable animal.
Ask experts and you might hear, “The Internet of Things is a model that uses networks of Internet-enabled devices without human intervention.” Or: “The Internet of Things is manufactured things connected to the Internet.”
From desktop telephones to handheld smartphones to heart signatures that unlock smartphones, IoT is not new.
But the rapidly evolving uses for smart sensor technology and the abundance of data being generated is making the Internet of Things increasingly part of the worldwide lexicon.
It is exemplified in chairs that monitor vital signs. It’s used with sensors that predict when machines, buildings and bridges will require maintenance. And IoT is involved when chips enable companies to remotely track products from assembly to delivery — or homes that will allow people to age in place.
The biggest IoT players are large brands headquartered elsewhere: Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., General Electric, Medtronic Inc., IBM Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., and Microsoft Corp. However, many major Michigan-based companies — Ford Motor Co., Dow Chemical Co., Herman Miller — and state-based start-up firms are vying for a slice of the IoT pie.
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Michigan Innovators in IoT: These four companies have made notable Internet of Things innovations: