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Where can we see internet of nano-things applications?

Nanotechnology in IoT -- sensors, antennas and devices -- are all around us at work and at home, even if you can't see them, says IEEE member Saumya Sharma.

Applications of the internet of nano-things are all around us and will only become more prevalent in the years to come.

While it is a growing market for companies that manufacture small devices of all kinds, the internet of nano-things (IoNT) will be most evident in consumer electronics, such as cellphones; automotive applications, especially connected and electric vehicles; and smart home appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines and robotic vacuum cleaners.

Just as IoT can cater to almost all the devices we use on a daily basis, from paper towel dispensers to smart thermostats, so too does nanotechnology. This can be in, for example, television or monitor displays, processors and batteries in cellphones and computers, connected car navigation sensors, and wearables that track our pulse and the number of steps we take.

We will also continue to see internet of nano-things applications in an increasing number of health use cases, from smart drug delivery devices to implantable pacemakers.

IoNT applications are prevalent everywhere -- use cases are easy to find if you're looking. Take a can of soda from the supermarket, for example. In the mass manufacturing process, the conveyor belt and robots pouring beverages into cans all rely on a network of temperature, humidity, flow rate and carbonation sensors.

When it comes to quality control of that soda, nano-sensors are responsible for checking the viscosity or absence of microbial activity in the liquid, as well as whether the drink has sediment in it, and even making sure each can is filled with the same volume of ingredients. This data can then help manufacturers understand how long they can preserve the soda.

All of these nano-technologies work together to make informed decisions during the manufacturing process, meaning they are interconnected and constantly communicating -- i.e., IoT.

As mentioned, internet of nano-things applications will be prevalent in the next versions of electronics models of existing consumer electronics and in the automotive industry. The automation industry, be it automating factories or homes, will also benefit from nanotechnology in IoT because it requires the integration of a network of nanoscale IoT devices in order to succeed.

For example, nano-sensors in home or factory automation can ensure temperatures don't go above or below certain parameters; can detect harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide; and can monitor factory effluents to ensure compliance with environmental laws. In the consumer market, interconnected phones and streaming devices, such as smart TVs, can use advanced nano-antennas to communicate with each other.

Another emerging market for IoT and nanotechnology is augmented, virtual and mixed reality manufacturers -- namely to improve the battery life of hardware, as well as for communications and optics.

This was last published in April 2019

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Where have you seen internet of nano-things technology used, and how?
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