It is definitely nothing new to say: IoT is affecting our lives today and even more so tomorrow. We all know the examples from self ordering fridges to traffic guided self driving cars or Alexa who will switch on our lights in a particular color or mood. Whether we consider these features not necessary or a major advance in humanity, IoT is here and will only become a bigger part of our lives.
IoT in itself would indeed be moot if it was not for other technologies developing at the same time: AI and more specifically Deep Learning, Big Data and Cloud Computing (for the latest trends: TheNextWeb: 2017 predictions for Big Data, IoT, and AI).
The introduction of the iPhone (indeed only just over ten years ago) did not happen because of a major technology breakthrough, but simply by applying existing technologies in a different way. Now the world is turning around smart phones. As we use the smart phone more and more as smart device and not so much as phone, it has truly become the first ubiquitous IoT device. There we are, IoT is here to stay.
This doesn’t mean it will be all smooth sailing. The industry has to understand how to deal with a couple of essential issues: scale, standardization and security. Let’s talk about scale. The market for computers is big, the market for smart phones is huge. But we have only one phone per person (I know there are some exceptions, but let’s assume for the sake of the argument). This smart phone, however, controls and interacts with many devices, which belong to us or a controlled by us, the fridge, washing machine, lights, car, sprinkler (and the list goes on….). This really means that if the smart phone market was huge, the number of IoT devices become ‘super huge’ (like this estimate from Business Insider). No wonder all hardware vendors keep an eye on this.
And no wonder that there is a busy competing landscape of wireless standards and providers to come with it. Yes, it took years before the world could agree on a single (almost) mobile phone standard and it looks like we will have to live through a similar consolidation for IoT communication as well. From Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee to LoRa, SigFox and NB-IoT, so many competing solutions mean uncertainty about which one to use (A good overview of the different IoT wireless standards can be found at Postscapes). Much to consider like coverage, reliability, pricing and even questions like: will this still exist four years from now?
Every time we talk about IoT the discussion moves into the direction of the different standards. This is a pity as we could be talking about all these wonderful applications that could be developed using the technology.
Welcome to the world of IoT…