There’s a lot of buzz around IoT (Internet of Things). Some technology visionaries are proclaiming IoT to be the next Internet or even the next Industrial Revolution. If it maintains the current growth, the Internet of Things will reach 24 billion devices by 2020 – that’s roughly four devices for every human being on Earth. But what exactly is IoT? And is it worth all this hype?
The Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is a network of internet-connected devices able to collect and exchange data with each other. The term “thing” can refer to almost anything, not just smartphones and computers. It can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a kitchen appliance, an animal with a biochip transporter or any other man-made object that can be assigned an IP Address and equipped with the ability to transfer data over a network.
There are a number of key factors that created the perfect ecosystem for IoT to skyrocket. First, broadband Internet is everywhere and is getting faster with each passing year. Then, you have the rise of cloud computing, coupled with the reduction of cost in data-gathering sensors. As technology costs are going down, more objects are created with Wi-Fi capabilities, eager to join the IoT revolution. This holds the promise of a future “smart” world in which everything that can be connected will eventually become a part of the IoT.
IoT is already changing our lives
The truth of the matter is, IoT is already changing the way some people interact with their everyday objects. But let’s put this technology into perspective by analysing some tangible examples of IoT products:
1. Healthpatch MD
Think of Healthpatch MD like a bionic Band-Aid. It has a whole suite of sensors that watch over body temperature, respiration, stress levels, heart rate, steps taken, etc. It’s even able to tell if the user has fallen or is incapacitated. This device is extremely lightweight and runs on a watch battery for about three days.
Healthpatch is smart enough to pair over Bluetooth with a mobile device, so both the patient and the doctor have access to real-time data through a cloud platform. Doctors have access to a detailed window into their patients’ health and receive instant notifications when there’s a sign of a troubling signal.
2. Samsung Family Hub 2.0
Samsung is already adding on their IoT products with the Family Hub 2.0. This smart refrigerator has a generous 21.5-inch touchscreen that can be used to leave messages for other family members, share photos or look at shared calendars. You can use the internal cameras to view the contents of your fridge if you’re too lazy to open it. The fridge takes pictures of all your items and can easily reorder anything online if you run out of stuff.
Of course, it wouldn’t really be smart if you weren’t able to talk to it. Users can issue voice commands to learn the weather and time, order new groceries online or manage to-do-lists, among other things. Samsung is reportedly working with Spotify, LiDL, Glympse, and iHeartRadio to add a whole suite of different functions to the fridge.
3. Connected Masscara
Hey ladies, what if your eye shadow palette can tell you what colours will complement your look? It seems like L’Oreal is already exploring the possibilities of IoT. The development team is tinkering with the idea of a smart makeup capable of beaming meaningful feedback back to the company in order to pinpoint trends and encourage customer engagement. On top of that, the company is planning to provide a lot of how-to content with their smart makeup lineup in the near future.
4. Samsung SmartThings Hub
Samsung is betting big on IoT, and SmartThings is definitely one of the most reliable systems for users who want a fully automated home. SmartThings lets you control lights, locks, thermostats, cameras, plugs, speakers and nearly everything else from a neatly designed central hub that you can access from your smartphone. The system is also compatible with a lot of sensors that can be used to create a security solution compatible with all the electronics present in your home.
5. Oceanit Laboratories Smart Cement
At a first glance, cement is the least thing you would expect to become “smart”. But some clever engineers at Oceanit Laboratories are changing all that by embedding nanosensors into the cement, making it capable of transmitting and responding to various signals. This technology could help workers better understand the integrity of the construction they are working on and avoiding unwanted accidents.
What will become of IoT?
Even those people who are already buying IoT products exclusively will agree that the technology is still in its infancy. There are still some issues that need to be addressed in order for IoT to become the norm.
The main problem is, of course, security. Many white hat hackers are stating that IoT is running ahead of the game with a big target on its back. It is believed that more than 7.3 billion devices need to be secured by 2020 in order to remove any major vulnerability. The good news is the big players are already taking steps towards making IoT a safe place – both Microsoft and Google are working on platforms that will secure and simplify the creation of IoT networks.
IoT vertical applications like home appliances and thermostats are scheduled for a steady rise in the next few years. It’s likely that other industries like smart cars, home security, and climate control will adopt more and more IoT devices until we’ll reach a point where every vertical will connect like a dot.
Another likely trend in the near future is IoT analytics. Big data is already on every top executive’s mind. But imagine combining IoT devices with cloud platforms capable of storing large amounts of data. An IoT algorithm can theoretically be used to gain insights into target audiences. This holds the promise of small businesses benefiting from big data analytics, previously only accessible by giant corporations.
It remains to be seen what the future holds, but we think IoT is here to stay. With so many development teams working on incredible IoT applications, the next two years will likely serve as a turning point for the full adoption of this technology.
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