We used to just have phones for calling and sending the odd message via SMS. Then the phones got connected to the internet giving us smartphones which let us do everything from reading the morning paper, doing your banking to updating your status on facebook. Since then, smartphones have arguably had the single biggest impact on our day to day lives over the past decade. Now everything from our homes, cars, cities and even pets can be connected to the internet, giving us what is now been called the Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is being built all around us at a breakneck pace. There’s still big challenges around security and privacy still to be overcome. If the rise of internet adoption, on-line banking and the cloud has taught us anything, it is this: These challenges are not insurmountable, they will be negotiated.
Industry experts are outbidding each other when estimating the number of smart objects in homes, offices, factories, vehicles and elsewhere. The estimates range from 26 billion (IDC) to 50 billion (Cisco and Ericsson) by 2020, up from six billion today. In early 2013, Cisco determined that Internet of Everything (IoE) — the networked connection of people, process, data, and things — will create $14.4 trillion in total value over the next 10 years (2013 – 2022).
What’s in it for us?
The possibilities created from smart devices connected to monitoring, analytics and programming processes, to industry and public sector is well understood. Benefits to these organisations are largely around faster and better decision making, new operational efficiencies and access to new revenue streams. While projections vary, it is likely that the opportunities are huge.
However, the possibilities for you as an individual are little understood.
As a consumer, I’d like to see the IoT be harnessed to provide me the freedom and empower me as opposed to being focused on connecting machines and environments to gather and crunch data to sell me more stuff.
So what is relevant to the individual? Let’s take home automation, one of the most talked about possibilities. IoT will help you ensure that your house is at the right temperature when you come home and it may be playing your favourite music to put you in a relaxing mood. It will make it easy for your start your washing machine cycle when energy rates may be cheapest during the week. It will turn the lights off when you go to bed.
The big question is one of real benefits. Will this really change your world? Would you think “how on earth did I do this before IoT” How much time does this really save you? Does this really remove complexity out of our lives?
One big benefit is energy conservation. This said, there’s been solutions around for a long time that also do this. For example most washing machines have timers you can set to run when you’re in the office. Trouble is, we humans are creatures of habit. Most of us do our washing in the weekend.
As Scott Jensen notes in his fractual coevolution blog much of today’s discussion is about how IoT can solve yesterdays’ problems. These tend to be somewhat uninspiring. Have you seen home automation bought to life in a video and think “that’s pretty neat”,..but has it actually galvanised your thinking and got you automating your home?
Truly innovative ideas that become successful products or services are rarely born overnight. Ideas that shift our thinking and gives rise to new possibilities are evolved over time with learning and contribution from a myriad of groups from customers, partners and competitors who touch or experience it from different perspectives.
Opportunity to shape the future
Coming back to the phone…when the first mobile phone went mainstream, who’d have thought that it would evolve into the smartphone and become so central to our connected lives?
So right now, there is immense traction and investment in IoT from all corners of the tech sphere. As IoT connects more things to infrastructure, environment and to the internet, more becomes possible. It certainly holds a lot of promise of what could be possible and that is exciting.
The current possibilities around smart homes and home automation have given us a starting place. We need to move this further along. How do we ensure that IoT is more meaningful for us as individuals?
This is possible through collaboration and co-creation amongst people all around the world who are starting to think more deeply and purposefully about unlocking truly innovative applications and services that can be enabled with the promise of IoT.
The opportunity is here to shape your own Internet of Things.
We have a decision to make. Do we want to get on the driving seat or are we happy to take a back seat and enjoy the ride. Machines are rising, are you ready and willing to shape the possibilities for you and your future generation?