The Internet of Things is a topic that’s seen a pretty significant amount of interest over recent months and years. After all, who wouldn’t be interested in the concept of a car that can communicate with your phone or a fridge that can order milk when you’re running low?
The problem with IoT is that while speculations about, many people don’t really know what they’re getting excited about. While it’s true that IoT allows for greater connectivity between people, things, and other things, it’s worth exploring what this means in a broader context.
You only need consider the events surrounding IoT this year if you want to see how quickly the space is growing. For instance, IoT World 2017 showed an increase in attendance that was 20-times the size since it began. In fact, there was almost a 50% increase in attendees this year, from last year, and the expo hall had grown, with more than 250 exhibitors.
Imagining the Future of IoT
If we start to consider the potential of IoT, we notice a basic and reliable path for progression that’s taken by most developers in the field. For instance, we begin with basic sensing, expand outwards to control, and end up with an impressive range of imaginative solutions. Typically, IoT options are created to solve specific problems.
For example, consider the 50-year-old power metres we have today. In the past, we simplified reading metres with wand technology. Now, real connectivity can offer so much more. New and improved smart metres offer micro-billing, monitor for leaks, eliminate metre reading trips, and more.
It’s tough to fully comprehend what IoT is capable of while we’re still in the shallow end of the pool. As is frequently the case with technology, we’re never quite sure what we’re diving into until we’re already there. The more data we collect about IoT, the more the opportunities appear, developing new and exciting potential.
So, what do We Need for IoT?
If we want to properly collect, analyse, and act upon the information we gather from IoT devices, then we’re going to need to rethink the tools and architecture we use. Edge computing devices create new solutions in the form of the Harman gateway, which aggregates local data intelligently. Time series databases, like Influx, can become a critical aspect of organising and managing time-stamped data.
The level of data collection required by IoT is unbelievable. Most IoT devices collect a host of different data solutions, and that means that in the future, we’re going to see a new version of “big data”. From weather to motion, to GPS coordinates, there’s information everywhere. We need to be sure that we have the right tools to collect it.
IoT is a Challenge: Are we Prepared to Face It?
It’s easy to assume that IoT is simple. Sensors are cheap, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi even more so. However, there are more moving parts to IoT than you can imagine. The area is developing quickly, and the challenge is bigger than many people realise. It’s easy to mount a sensor that you can access from your smartphone. However, designing a sensor that can be remotely upgraded and controlled is something else entirely.
There are security and safety issues to think about, licensing concerns, disposal issues, and concerns with serviceable parts. We need to know if systems are properly protected from environmental conditions, whether the installations are secure and cost-effective, and more.
We’re still in the early days of what’s going to be a very connected world. Right now, it’s hard to comprehend what the future might bring, but we know it’s going to be astronomical.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.