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From Ice Cream to Organs: Five Unusual Items Tracked by the IoT

The Internet of Things can be quite effective as an asset-tracking tool.
By Mohsen Mohseninia and Richard Jennings
Mar 24, 2019

The Internet of Things (IoT) is typically associated with smart homes or vehicles. One compelling, and perhaps lesser known, use case for the IoT is asset tracking. The IoT can enable items to be tracked anywhere, any place, at any time. It can also provide information about an item's state and environment, including the level of humidity or light exposure, or any evidence of tampering.

Ice Cream
Those in the business of selling and shipping ice cream face quite a logistical challenge: how to transport the popular icy desert across the terrains of varying climates. No one likes melted ice cream, especially not when it hits profit margins. If ice cream arrives at its destination spoiled, it could cost the manufacturer thousands of dollars. Therefore, it's important to be aware of temperature changes during transit.

For example, in one case of spoiled ice cream, an IoT-enabled asset tracker pinpointed the exact moment when the temperature changed and caused the ice cream to defrost—it was when the shipment was transferred from one vehicle to another at a depot. This type of information has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of dollars, in addition to protecting a company's reputation.

Vaccines and Medicines
The pharmaceutical sector ships time-critical and extremely sensitive assets. Take vaccines, for example. Pharmaceutical companies must now ensure that a shipment of vaccines is closely monitored and secure in order to ensure its safe arrival at its destination, wherever in the world that may be. With advances in cellular, GPS and location-based technologies, it is now possible to pinpoint the exact location of these vital assets, thereby enabling quick and decisive action should an issue occur. The IoT can also track environmental variables, such as temperature, humidity and exposure to light, which may damage medical cargo.

Organ Transplants
It is hard to think of a more precious and time-sensitive delivery to track than blood or organs scheduled for transplant. In addition to monitoring temperature and other environmental variables, tracking can enable vital minutes to be saved. It is possible for the delivery company to geofence a hospital, enabling an automatic alert to be sent as soon as an organ arrives, or even when it is close to arrival, helping to ensure hospital personnel are on hand to collect the delivery. In this case, every second counts.

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