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Few recent tech ideas have been as hyped as the Internet of Things (IoT). It's not hard to see why: The IoT holds the promise of extending networked connectivity to billions of new devices beyond the old standbys of the PC, the smartphone and the tablet. It could become a sprawling collection of new connected autonomous vehicles, embedded sensors, and home appliances, all communicating with each other and with applications such as logistics tracking systems and hosted VoIP platforms.
Indeed, the emergence of the IoT could catalyze a burst of activity similar to what happened when the iOS App Store opened in 2008, or when Microsoft Windows 95 launched decades ago – i.e., a huge, sudden uptick in new apps and use cases. This surge is already forming to some degree. For example, many IoT developers are piggybacking on Amazon Web Services, which is widely used for hosting a variety of applications and services.
The fourth annual IoT Developer Survey found rising affinity for both AWS and for data collection and analytics, perhaps indicating that IoT development is progressing beyond the simple deployment of novel devices. If the next step is in fact the move toward more sophisticated software across the IoT, then hosted VoIP and unified communications (UC) should play a pivotal role.
One of the central advantages of hosted VoIP over a traditional private branch exchange (PBX) is greater flexibility in devices. With VoIP, you have the option to not only use desk phones (often conveniently connected with simple Power over Ethernet cabling) but also smartphones and softphone clients.
The IoT could greatly extend the options on this front by integrating many new types of hardware and software into business phone systems. A few possibilities might include:
Wi-Fi-enabled light fixtures, thermostats, and refrigerators are almost synonymous with the IoT, at least on a consumer level. One of the key advantages of these networked smart home/office appliances is the option to control them from afar, using mobile apps and/or voice commands.
A VoIP/UC platform could enable seamless remote adjustments to settings such as the temperature settings of an IoT-connected HVAC system. Since both VoIP and the IoT are based on the Internet Protocol Suite, it is relatively straightforward to align the two of them.
Moreover, VoIP phones can be configured to accept Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) notifications from IoT infrastructure. For example, a factory system might make a VoIP call or send a notification to a manager's integrated calendar if it were running low on parts.
At the same time, IoT devices may also allow remote access via desk phone, mobile phone or web interface. VoIP-IoT interconnectivity is ultimately a two-way street that could boost the utility of both your phone system and your IoT initiatives.
VoIP is already a strong foundation for collaboration between remote and mobile teams that would otherwise face the major constraints of a legacy phone system. Plugging it into the IoT could open the doors to even better interactions strengthened by SIP presence.
Since VoIP-capable devices can receive SIP notifications, there's strong potential for improvements to presence capabilities. Modern presence information can already indicate if a participant is busy, available, out of the office, on a video call, etc.
With IoT integration, data from additional sensors - such as motion detectors - could be captured and relayed to VoIP users via SIP to paint a fuller picture of everyone's status. IoT-enhanced presence might become a common component of tomorrow's UC solutions.
Pairing hosted VoIP with videoconferencing is a common communications strategy. Both are highly demanding real-time applications that, if properly supported with additional measures such as software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), can deliver unparalleled clarity.
The IoT might deliver additional benefits in the video domain. Many of the IoT's most prominent device types, such as home security and automation systems, include video cameras. If configured as SIP endpoints, these endpoints would be reachable by dialing specific numbers that would then allow their video feeds to be visible to VoIP users.
These use cases are just a few of the possibilities that might emerge from further integration of the IoT with VoIP. To ensure you get the best possible VoIP infrastructure in place for the future, contact the Telesystem team today to find out more about our voice solutions.