With the ‘Internet of Things’ dubbed as the next big thing, the world around us is about to start working a lot harder for us
Have you noticed that everything around us is becoming intelligent and connected?
You may have heard the term ‘Internet of Things’ used to describe this phenomenon: the idea of this is to enable a world where devices, data and places are connected with applications and people over the Internet, transforming the way we discover and interact with the world. The consumer of the future will be able to live in a home powered by smart energy whose lights will turn on as the owner approaches the house in their personalised electric vehicle. They also will be able to easily and independently monitor their own health using their own connected devices whilst at home. In business this might range from sensors in factories to enterprise tracking and handheld terminals within shops.
Everyday objects, which can be everything from a car to a plant to a coffee machine, can be equipped with sensors, the data from which can be collected and shared using an Internet-like structure. Their device will enable a ‘digital sixth sense’, through which they can interact with the connected world around them, meaning they can communicate digitally with other devices. By connecting all of these devices to the internet, we are thereby creating a smart ecosystem which will change the way societies connect and will ultimately give us more control over our own lives.
This may sound like a distant reality. However, this technology is actually already here today and is rapidly evolving. Take a look at the smartphone, for instance: this relatively new device has already become the centre of our smart, connected lives. Smartphone adoption has proven to be much faster than other technology platforms, including PCs in the 80s and the Internet in the 90s, making it the largest platform in history. The popularity and ubiquity of smart devices opens up a whole range of possible ways in which people can interact with the world around them, blurring the lines between the digital and physical worlds.
Bearing in mind this growing momentum, it should really come as no surprise that the number of connected devices worldwide is set to increase from 10 billion to 25 billion between 2012 and 2020 – and more than half of these will be non-handset devices. So it might not be too long at all before the world around us begins to work a lot harder.
Sceptics have questioned the relevance and importance of the Internet of Things and its predicted future popularity and have asked whether it is really necessary to replace our humble home appliances with connected versions, for example. But surely knowing via a smart device notification that an elderly relative has turned on the toaster or boiled the kettle, for example, is a great, minimal impact way of knowing that they are OK. And wouldn’t owning a coffee machine which starts to make your favourite brew as soon as your morning alarm goes off make getting out of bed a little easier?
The value of the Internet of Things, to companies and consumers alike, will continue to grow as new ecosystems emerge and already existing ecosystems expand, thereby creating new business opportunities and enabling smart, intuitive ways in which we can go about our daily lives.
Tell us what you think about the Internet of Things – are you on board?