The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the hottest topics in the business world right now. If for some reason you've been living under a rock (or a server rack from the late 90s), IoT in a nutshell is when everyday devices are fitted with sensors that collect data that is then transmitted via internet connection for analysis and storage. Heralded as the next technological paradigm shift, Business Insider predicts that between 2017 and 2025, almost $15 trillion in total investment will be made in the IoT sector, and the number of IoT devices will rise from 9 billion to over 55 billion!
With the capacity to transform many different industries, it's imperative that you stay informed on what's happening in this exciting field. So, take a look at our list of the top seven trends in IoT for 2018
Embedded sensors. The true benefits of IoT are realized through embedded sensors. As computer processing units have become smaller, more powerful and more energy efficient, it has become feasible to embed them in nearly any product. Your new smart watch can monitor your heart rate, calories burned and more. Refrigerators can be fitted to precisely control humidity and temperature automatically. Cars in the future will be able to talk to each other to prevent accidents. Inventory management will be revolutionized, as items will be able to be tracked and counted in real time. The possibilities are nearly limitless.
Near-universal connectivity. With cost, size and power constraints becoming less of a problem every year, there will be a time in the near future when almost every device manufactured could be connected and gather data. This concept is called near-universal connectivity and it could happen faster than you think.
Multiple stage infrastructure. An often overlooked aspect of this data revolution is that current informational infrastructures are wholly unsuited to handle the vast amounts of data produced. With 55 billion potential sensors gathering data, an entirely new infrastructure will have to be created to store, parse, analyze and present this information. Multiple stage infrastructure is a potential solution to this monumental issue. The first stage is the IoT hardware itself, namely sensors, actuators and other devices. The second stage is the system that collates the data and converts it from analogue to digital information. The next stage is where the data is processed, parsed and put into the more understandable containers. The last stage is a system where the information is analyzed, stored and eventually presented to an end user. Infrastructure following these parameters could be constructed to make all of this information decipherable and actionable.
Enhanced security. Another major hurdle is making all of this technology safe and hack-proof. You wouldn't want a hacker to be able to gain access to your self-driving car, or tinker with the algorithms of your pacemaker! Before most devices contain sensors and transmit data, there will need to be considerable security measures in place to protect them. That's why, according to Gartner, worldwide IoT spending on security will be over $1.5 billion in 2018 and rise to over $3.1 billion by 2021.
Practical mobile platforms. Since a substantial amount of computing power is necessary to make the best use of an IoT system, most platforms up to now have been constructed using desktop computers. Mobile devices now contain a significant amount of processing power that can handle IoT data. This trend will only continue in the future and soon, mobile-only IoT applications will be the norm. This will be especially helpful in situations where issues such as latency will need to be mitigated. For instance, if your self-driving car had to transmit data to a desktop computer on the cloud, the latency introduced during that transfer would be potentially dangerous.
Increased investment in machine learning. Machine learning and IoT go together like the Dallas Cowboys and underachievement. So, it's no wonder that investment in machine learning correlates positively with investment in IoT. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that investment in machine learning will rise from $12 billion in 2017 to over $57 billion in 2021. Machine learning is excellent at taking a goal (e.g. increase energy efficiency) and using vast amounts of data to find the important input variables necessary to make that happen. With IoT, you can have so many variables and data points that normal data analysis becomes infeasible. Machine learning will help businesses turn information into actionable initiatives.
Self-driving cars. More than $80 billion has been invested in the research and development of self-driving cars by almost all of the major automotive manufacturers. Although obviously more research is needed to ensure the highest safety standards, the benefits of self-driving cars could be enormous. Combined with Smart City technology, your morning commute could be much safer and more efficient. Imagine your car communicating with other cars and traffic lights to reduce slowdowns, accidents and best of all, road rage!
This list merely scratches the surface of what IoT will mean for industry in the future. No matter what sector you work in, take some time to study up on how these new technologies will be affecting your business.