Will IoT Hype Become a Reality in 2017?
Research reports place bold claims on the long-awaited arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT). Everyone from telecom service providers to chip-making companies, has been raving about connecting the future with their devices. After much hype, in the coming months and years we are set to see more and more actual IoT-enabled devices powering a range of different connected smart applications designed to improve how businesses operate and people live. On the surface of it, the vision of a connected world seems promising. But one question lingers: are the different technologies that IoT relies on really ready to support this new world?
Gartner analysts forecast that the market for IoT devices is poised to explode and will reach nearly 21 billion connected devices by 2020 according to Gartner. Industry reports such as by CCS Insight also estimate that the global wearable technology market will be worth $25 billion by 2020, indicating that the market is set to grow from 84 million units in 2015 to 245 million units in 2019. India is eyeing a share of 5 to 6 per cent in the USD 300 billion global IoT industry in the next five years as reported by Livemint. These enormous figures show that the IoT – in all its different forms – will span every aspect of our lives.
Complex communication technologies are needed
It goes without saying that with IoT we are facing a new era that relies on ubiquitous networks. Yet, as the future connected world takes shape, we need to solve the challenge posed by the web of complex interconnections. The real enabler for IoT is an inherent ability to distribute the monitoring and control of individual machines without a traditional ‘closed’ network.
A big hurdle in the way of achieving the IoT dream is that there is no crossindustry drive to standardise IoT applications and the interfaces that people use to access them at present. There is also an over reliance on the user to manage their IoT applications in a way that brings them the most value. To illustrate, at the moment the smartphone is the key interface for IoT applications. But how is a user supposed to make sense of the IoT data they hold if they need to access hundreds of individual applications covering areas such as fitness, car diagnostics, energy monitoring, home security, irrigation systems and automated shopping? Consider this alongside the dozens of business and industrial applications they use at work – that’s a lot of work for your average smartphone user.
At the moment, IoT data sets may not be huge, but we are already seeing increasing complexity in different interconnected sets of data, in a smart home for example, where temperature sensors might be linked to the freezer to optimise energy consumption. These IoT ecosystems require highly sophisticated systems for communication and management to ensure interoperability and the seamless user experience that people crave.
Analysts Frost and Sullivan have highlighted that this lack of interoperability among devices and objects is a major hurdle for widespread IoT adoption; and arguably initiatives such as the Open Automotive Alliance – to establish standards for the Android platform for communication between mobile devices and vehicles – only address one part of the IoT puzzle. This is a business issue rather