Understanding the Internet of Things and Its Impact
If you own a Smartphone and wear a Fitbit, then the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon is already impacting your daily life, and probably more than you think.
As you go throughout your daily life, consider all of the times you use a device that is connected to the Internet. Then, consider those times that sensors are gathering data about your actions even without your knowledge. All of these are lumped under the term "Internet of Things," and that collection of connected devices is going to become a major player in the future of modern society.
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is a catchphrase for the growing desire and demand to connect more and more devices to the Internet and the cloud. Those devices communicate between themselves, gather data and even interact with the environment around them. In today's world, the Internet of Things, or IoT as it is also called, has grown beyond simply laptops, smartphones and tablets and includes everything from fitness trackers to even a "smart" fashion doll.
What Is the Potential Impact of the Internet of Things?
The IoT has a significant ability to impact the future of mankind. We are entering a world where everything has the potential to be connected. In fact, IDC estimates that by 2020, the installed base for the IoT will be as high as 212 billion, including 30 billion "connected things." This is a large market and will have a great impact on the daily life of the average person. There is already talk of connected and self-driving cars, "smart" homes and even connected healthcare is in the works, indicating the huge potential impact of the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things has a financial impact as well, with the projected value expected to be close to $30 billion by 2020. This is going to become a major factor in the global economy as connectivity becomes the norm in the next few years.
What Is the Biggest Problem with the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things has two big problems, actually, not just one. The first is security. When everything from the stove in your home to the device you wear around your wrist to track your steps is "connected," you must be able to be confident that no one is able to tap into those devices and steal the data surrounding you or otherwise put your health, finances or safety at risk. Companies need to continue to develop devices and networks with an intense focus on security.
The Internet of Things has another problem, and that is lack of standardization, as Cognizant.com warns. Here as the IoT sees explosive growth, we have developers across different companies working hard to create "the" platform that everyone will need. However, this means that one developer's app may not be compatible with a second developer's device.
While this may not seem like a huge issue, practically speaking it is. When you have multiple devices throughout people's homes and offices, and those devices can't play nicely together, the true benefit of this connected technology is lost. Without a standardized platform or standard language or protocol, people aren't getting the full benefit of this connected world.
What Does the Future Hold for the Internet of Things?
The IDC has made predictions about the growth potential of the Internet of Things, but what is the future potential, practically speaking, of this new world?
I predict a future where connectivity is the norm, not a novel thing. We are practically already there now, with everyone holding a smart phone in his hand and remaining connected at all times. Soon, it will be expected that sensors will be available in everyday objects to make them just a little "smarter."
I also feel that the Internet of Things of the future is going to be less about cool gadgets and more about the service that connectivity can provide to the consumer. While we will see more gadgets come down the pike, companies are going to start focusing on providing a clear benefit to their customers or providing a service that makes existing connected devices easier to use.
Finally, I think standardization is just around the corner, and that will improve the outlook of the Internet of Things moving forward.
The Internet of Things is here to stay. While the name may change or disappear, as connectivity becomes the norm, the basic concept will not. So embrace the IoT, because it's going to be part of your future.