Felicite Moorman, CEO
Most people with Internet access today have heard of the Internet of Things (IoT), and many even understand the basic tenet around the buzzy catchphrase. But the depth and breadth of the coming applications of IoT are far beyond most peoples awareness. From agriculture to industry, IoT is already innately changing the way our world works and it is anticipated that by 2020 there will be 75 billion connected devices, a staggering amount of Internet-enabled technology. The impact of the Internet of Things on our daily lives will be far greater than most realize, eventually touching every single aspect of our lives.
There are a million moving parts to IoT, literally and figuratively: How things connect; Bluetooth, WiFi, ZWave, ZigBee and new and proprietary protocols are being added to the list daily. What they connect; sensors, devices, gateways, appliances, wearables and automobiles. Where they connect; locally or in the cloud, and when they connect; scheduled, constantly, upon trigger events, etc. Its no wonder that theres still a lot of confusion for both businesses and consumers, given the vast array of choices were required to make today to engage IoT. But in both segments, it is unlikely there will be a technology winner and loser, with too many variables for each iterative part, from price to design to participants. It is more likely that those who will thrive in the continued creation and development of IoT, will be the ones who learn to play well with others, and the faster the better. Those that take the path of greater connectivity will drive the pace of adoption and business and consumer impact of IoT.
In business, engaging IoT is already a competitive advantage for the savviest of companies. In agriculture today, for instance, sensors can be distributed throughout a farm to monitor anything and everything imaginable, from gases to hydration to light. The collection and analysis of that information is invaluable for planning and pivoting. As more data is collected, those analytics will improve creating automated micro-decisions and improving efficiencies even further. With farmers facing water shortages, unpredictable operating cost fluctuations, and disease, and our population estimated to increase by 70 percent by 2050, there is no efficiency that should not be improved in food production where possible.
Similar advantages can be seen in engaging IoT in real property. Commercial residential, or multi-unit buildings like apartments, can improve efficiencies dramatically with an IoT enabled building management system. Connected devices can include electronic door locks, connected thermostats, smoke detectors, occupancy and light sensors, leak sensors, and much deeper building system devices that control HVAC systems on a granular level, significantly reducing both costs of maintenance and energy spending. Since commercial residential development is the leading growth segment and probable path forward for smart development and affordable housing as cities continue to expand to accommodate our burgeoning population, it will become increasingly important to maximize the capabilities of property owners to manage operating costs and maintain affordability.
The automotive industry has also made huge strides with regards to connectivity and IoT adoption, from automation that enables manufacturing efficiencies to consumer facing technologies. Some of these options may seem novel today, but it is already easy to imagine a world in which the work is left to the vehicle, from exiting a parking or personal garage, to automatically notifying the restaurant that youve arrived to pick up your carry-out to identifying through device life cycle management software that you actually need a new part, and arent just scheduled for one. The increase of personal efficiencies, if able to eliminate many of the mundane tasks of life, has proved to have profound effects on the lives of those with access and subsequently societies.
For consumers, the landscape is equally vast with applications. From wearables to refrigerators, there is nothing in our lives today that cant be connected, and much of it is. While the convenience of knowing Ive milk and eggs cannot be overrated, it is more likely that the greatest impact of IoT upon our population will be in education and health, where the barriers to entry are greatest.
With a global perspective on educating our population, distance learning and Internet accessibility are closely tied together. Our ability to educate students of all ages, across borders, and without bias to income, is also of increasing importance as our population grows. As the cost of hardware continues to plummet and the availability of free educational software and programs continue to increase, the long pole of access will remain. As it is addressed however, entire populations will be able to educate themselves through the Internet, without the additional costs of brick and mortar classrooms, traditional textbooks, or even teachers. Software that can adapt and customize to a students challenges and struggles already exists and the gamification of education through connected devices is already obvious in the first world. That technology has only scratched the surface in education, a slow moving industry with deeply entrenched interests. And as profound effect on culture as is the reduction of mundane tasks on a population, access to education without barrier could be our greatest global achievement.
Healthcare has similar barriers to education from a global perspective. First world countries are already constantly monitoring more data than is used consistently today. With new connected wireless devices coming to market every day, from heart monitors in wristbands, to blood pressure cuffs that report to a provider, there is no limit to the customization of health care when accessibility is a given. The capability of remote diagnostics and prescriptives in under-addressed communities is the greater opportunity for IoT to positively impact lives. Hand-in-hand with health care education, IoT can be used as a tool to increase quality of life from infancy through death.
As we manage the tremendous impact of IoT and shift to our brave, new, world of connectivity, well have as many logistical and ethical questions to answer as during the Industrial Revolution. Well necessarily become more aware of the data and information we allow companies to obtain, retain, and transfer and determine what is acceptable as a society. And as challenging as it will inevitably be, the IoT has the capacity, if we architect our systems correctly now, to act as a great equalizer, enabling businesses and people globally, to access information and services previously accessible by a very limited portion of our population. The IoT presents a tremendous opportunity to provide more and better everything to more people than ever before, should we so choose.
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