IOT – A revolution in the making


By Rijul Nadkarni ( RBG ) 

What Is The Internet Of Things?

Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.  This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig. As I mentioned, if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT.  The analyst from a reputed firm says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices… That’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion).  The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people).  The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

How Does This Impact You?

The new rule for the future is going to be-  “Anything that can be connected, will be connected.” But why on earth would you want so many connected devices talking to each other? There are many examples for what this might look like or what the potential value might be. Say for example you are on your way to a meeting; your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take. If the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late. What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 a.m. and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you? What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more?  What if the wearable device you used in the workplace could tell you when and where you were most active and productive and shared that information with other devices that you used while working?

On a broader scale, the IoT can be applied to things like transportation networks: “smart cities” which can help us reduce waste and improve efficiency for things such as energy use; this helping us understand and improve how we work and live. Take a look at the visual below to see what something like that can look like.

 

libelium_smart_world_infographic_bigThe reality is that the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can’t even think of or fully understand the impact of today. It’s not hard to see how and why the IoT is such a hot topic today; it certainly opens the door to a lot of opportunities but also to many challenges. Security is a big issue that is oftentimes brought up. With billions of devices being connected together, what can people do to make sure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network? The IoT also opens up companies all over the world to more security threats. Then we have the issue of privacy and data sharing. This is a hot-button topic even today, so one can only imagine how the conversation and concerns will escalate when we are talking about many billions of devices being connected. Another issue that many companies specifically are going to be faced with is around the massive amounts of data that all of these devices are going to produce. Companies need to figure out a way to store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated.

So what now?

Conversations about the IoT are (and have been for several years) taking place all over the world as we seek to understand how this will impact our lives. We are also trying to understand what the many opportunities and challenges are going to be as more and more devices start to join the IoT. For now the best thing that we can do is educate ourselves about what the IoT is and the potential impacts that can be seen on how we work and live.

Potential Hurdles Limiting the Internet of Things

 

The hype surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) is immense. The basic premise behind the IoT is to connect everyday objects to the internet through tiny sensors, allowing them to communicate with businesses, consumers, and each other. The potential for innovation is certainly there, and startups and major corporations have already come up with some intriguing ideas from internet-connected refrigerators to app-controlled light fixtures to smart clothing. A lot of people see the Internet of Things as the next great frontier of technology and consumer products, but just because many are predicting it doesn’t make it inevitable. Notable obstacles have appeared that may end up hindering the rapid spread of the Internet of Things. While these hurdles can be overcome, companies and industries should make note of them to prepare for what may be a hard-to-navigate future.

Internet Availability

The Internet of Things sounds good in principle, giving consumers unparalleled convenience and access to the latest technology, but there is one requirement that can’t be ignored: the internet. Without an actual internet connection, the IoT can’t function. While that may not be a problem for the majority of people, there are still many places in the world without an internet connection. Many companies, including Google, are trying to rectify this issue, but any solutions are still years away. Even countries that do have high connectivity to the internet, like the United States, will often have spots where that connection is spotty or even non-existent. Worldwide internet connections have to happen for the IoT to become a fully functioning reality.

Significant Expenses

It’s one thing to embed a sensor in a new consumer product; it’s another thing to place them on items and structures that are already widely dispersed throughout the world. One idea for the Internet of Things is to place sensors on roads, traffic lights, utility grids, and buildings, but doing so represents an expensive venture .Many companies, while optimistic about the potential of the IoT, have yet to be convinced it’s an investment worth making on such a large scale. Progress has been made concerning the expenses of the IoT, particularly in the creation of cheaper sensors, but more progress is needed before organizations truly embrace using them in everything. Until then, the full implementation of the Internet of Things will likely be delayed.

Privacy and Security

In the wake of major security breaches at Home Depot and Target, along with the recent iCloud celebrity photo scandal, privacy and security . are clearly on the minds of businesses and individuals. For now, the IoT only appears to raise those concerns exponentially. When everything from a toaster to a shirt is connected to the web, what does that mean for personal privacy and sensitive data? Companies will need to show they can protect customer information if consumers will ever trust wearing shoes that keep track of where they go and how many steps they take.

Data Surge

It’s estimated that  by 2020 , around 26 billion items and objects will be part of the Internet of Things. With that increase in internet-connected items will come a surge of new data being generated. As of right now, many companies aren’t prepared to handle the amount of data that needs to be collected to make the IoT function well. There are many things businesses need to do to prepare their organizations for these new demands. New storage capabilities are needed, which can be done through in -house storage options or through cold storage ..New hardware is needed to handle an increased workload and more processing power. Businesses also need more effective data mining and the equipment to analyze data in real time. Once these technologies are adopted by more companies, the spread of the IoT will likely increase.

Consumer Awareness

While businesses may talk excitedly about the Internet of Things, consumers are largely unaware of it. In  a survey of 2,000 people, 87% of consumers said they had never even heard of the IoT. While hearing about the Internet of Things doesn’t necessarily signify a consumer would not use an item connected to the IoT, the survey results show a lack of awareness and understanding about what can be gained from it. If this lack of knowledge about the IoT leads to lack of interest, a major driving force for widespread adoption will be missing. Having said that, there is a lot of interest in wearable technology, which could be a gateway for more connected items. As a result, many companies are focusing on wearable tech. Even so, other uses of the Internet of Things may take several years to really catch on.

These and many other hurdles represent some significant challenges businesses will have to contend with over the next few years, but many view it as a challenge worth facing. The number of developers specifically devoted to the Internet of Things is expected to  increase to 4.5 million  by 2020, a big jump from the 300,000 currently doing so. With more attention being paid to the IoT, solutions will likely come, and with them new innovations and creative applications. Consumers can expect a much more connected life as a greater understanding of the IoT is put into practice.

The Way forward with IOT

The effects of the Internet of Things are quickly expanding outward, causing major shifts in the way both hardware and software for connected devices are being developed and released.

For every new feature or business model change that an organization wants to undergo, there is also a need to adjust the hardware and software behind it, along with the strategy behind the entire project. For example, when companies like Honeywell started venturing into the world of connected thermostats, it changed their entire business. These incredible opportunities developing in the market are pushing many organizations into uncharted territory.

One of the most significant impacts of the IoT is that organizations are noticing a change in consumer behavior and expectations.Not only do consumers expect “more,” but they also expect it to be delivered faster and faster. The rate of updates for the Internet of Things is increasing rapidly. Consumer expectation of more frequent product releases and feature upgrades puts a great deal of pressure on the design of the physical product itself, the embedded software, and the support infrastructure behind it. One of the complications of this change in consumer expectations is that, as the complexity in designs increase, product and security flaws are discovered.

As the demands of the Internet of Things continue to increase and consumer expectations follow suit, it is becoming more and more imperative for organizations to operate as efficiently as possible. Agile methodologies and continuous delivery are needed  to address these increasing challenges and difficulties. With the tools and best practices available, software developers and embedded engineers alike need to be fully equipped to jump head-first into the wonderful and profitable world of the Internet of Things.

Sources : 1) ww.forbes.com  2) https://networks.nokia.com/innovation/iot

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.