The Internet of things (IoT) is whizzing its way through the Gartner Hype Cycle, and it looks like 2016 will be the year of IoT. The technology promises a world in which every device has its own presence on the internet and feeds into applications such as: operations management, predictive maintenance in factories; traffic control, public safety and health systems, navigation in cities; smart CRM, self-checkout in retail; chore automation, safety and security at homes; augmented reality for training, organisational redesign and worker monitoring at offices.
IoT assumes a larger role in the future economic and social success of companies, cities, and even entire countries. One such example is how Chicago and Barcelona used IoT to benefit residents which resulted in reduced crime and improved emergency in high crime neighborhoods due to infrastructure that provided real-time data feeds from a diverse array of sensors throughout each city. It’s a forgone conclusion that companies are going to spend money related to IoT initiatives. In fact, many companies are going to slap the Internet of Things label on their existing products in order to seem cool.
One of the reasons for this sudden blast of speculation surrounding the Internet of Things is the Gartner Hype Cycle, which placed IoT at the “peak of inflated expectations.” Initially, a new technology enters the public’s awareness with low expectations and then slowly rises as the potential becomes clear. Eventually, expectations hit a peak, where the technology is predicted to solve almost every problem known to humanity - well, maybe not that extreme - but there are many applications that are proving to be both innovative and business impacting and we will see many new applications in the next five to ten years as this technology moves closer to the final stage of maturity.
When the Internet of Things moves into the mainstream, we believe it’s going to give us the most disruption of all the current technologies on the Hype Cycle, as well as the most opportunity throughout the next five years.
One innovative application I recently came across is auto insurance companies in the United States that incentivised car owners to embed sensors in their automobiles. This helped them analyse the driving style of each individual as well as create claim predictions, thereby setting premium amounts for individual customers. They even advised drivers of best driving practices and also provided intelligent services to them such as predictive routing.
But to unlock the potential of IoT, there are several things that need to be in place.
Pervasive Analytics: Organisations need to manage how best to filter and analyse the huge amounts of data coming from IoT, and then deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time.
Infrastructure Simplification and Standardisation: Integrating embedded devices into the internet is quite challenging because they strongly differ from traditional internet devices. The existing infrastructure was originally designed to connect computers, phones, printers, servers and mobile devices. However, today we are experiencing tremendous growth not only in the number of devices but also the types of devices. Limitations such as low battery life, short communication distances for networks, lack of standards, etc. have been holding back the implementation of IoT for business. The infrastructure needs to be redesigned to reduce cost and complexity. It needs to be more elastic, agile, secure and easy to adopt.
Security and Privacy: The ubiquity and physical distribution of IoT devices provide attackers with greater opportunity to gain physical or logical proximity to targets. Hackers might hack into these systems and manipulate them accordingly. Also, information flow due to IoT is widely distributed. Users are constantly asked to share their information. All of this connectivity carries with it a risk to privacy and information leakage. Clearly, the successful deployment of such applications will depend on our ability to secure them and the contextual data that they share.
As we continue researching the most effective ways of implementing IoT, we must keep the above points in mind. We are not far from a time when IoT will take over the world and bring great new advancements while introducing a whole new way of thinking about, and interacting with, our world.
About the Author
Arpit Jain is a test engineer at Infogix, located in the Gurgaon, India office. Arpit is a graduate of Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) in India where he completed his BTech.