The Internet of Things is a buzzword often heard nowadays. The ongoing and unyielding launch of what is commonly referred to as the IoT is insinuating itself into all of our lives in a transparent but fundamentally significant fashion. In much the same way that the Internet was a revolutionary and disruptive force that forever altered how we conduct our social lives, purchase household goods and consume news, IoT will also disrupt and change the status quo.
The Global Standards Initiative on the Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defined the IoT as “the infrastructure of the information society.” It is increasingly becoming the backbone on which our communication system is based. It is the technology which enables automation to be central to our workplaces.
The growth in IoT devices is virtually exploding. Global marketing intelligence firm IDC predicts IoT to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 19% through 2020 while other connected devices will lag comparatively at only 9.5% CAGR. A global Internet of Things report submitted by Technavio predicts an annual growth rate of more than 20%.
IT research firm Gartner predicted that IoT devices will exceed 26 billion independent units installed by the year 2020. A collaborative report from DHL and Cisco is even more aggressive and estimates 50 billion devices by 2020. IoT players will likely generate revenue exceeding $300 billion, with a current total net worth of $1.4 trillion.
The number of uses for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications is so enormous that it’s impossible to list. IoT will introduce many new enhancements to safety and security as well as greater efficiency and improved environmental sustainability. With countries like the Netherlands and South Korea creating wireless networks entirely devoted to serving IoT devices with Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) a trend has been established.
IoT may make the biggest impact initially on manufacturing processes. For example, sensors can indicate the precise amount of paint to spray on automobile parts or alert machine operators when a die has reached the end of its useful life and is likely to soon exceed established parameters for quality metrics. On the consumer side, we have refrigerators that know when you’re running low on milk, toasters that can alert your smartphone when the toast is ready and thermostats that help conserve energy by knowing when you’re in the room.
Cities of the future won’t just be cities – they’ll be smart cities. Smart cities will utilize sensors and actuators to wirelessly connect components like lighting, traffic routing, heating and cooling, emergency response systems and all of the services we associate with city living. We’ll see millions of devices generating and sharing massive amounts of data which will be analyzed and used to assess future patterns through predictive analysis. All with an eye toward functioning more efficiently.