Life as You Don’t Know It…Yet: The Future of IoT

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Written by David Clemens

Forget everything you know about your coffee mug, because the Internet of Things (IoT) will fundamentally change the way you enjoy and consume your breakfast. Imagine a world in which you wake up in the morning to freshly brewed coffee already prepared by a machine synced to your alarm clock. The coffee is perfect because sensors in the mug have collected data and determined the optimal temperature at which you normally consume your hot beverage, then adjust it for your mood and the weather. Take something as small as a coffee mug and then dream big. Imagine all the other ways that IoT technology will impact your life. Not only will your morning change, but so will industry, healthcare, and much more by the time we reach 2050.

The Viability of IoT

IoT has gained traction in recent years because of its potential applications for government, business, and personal use. In layman terms, IoT means any device that can be connected to the internet can be connected to each other as well. The mobile phone can connect to your car and home security system, while amassing valuable data about your habits. New data collection methods with IoT will change how consumers interact with their products by increasing the speed and efficiently at which services can be provided. The data gathered from IoT devices can be compiled into larger databases, which will allow society to rethink the way issues are perceived and resolved.

Currently, data suggest the number of connected devices were around 12 billion in 2015. By 2020, connected devices could range from 26 to 50 billion. This will increase the rate of adoption of IoT programs, which gain in efficiency as more devices are added to the network. Couple this expansion in device capability with the expanding network and, by 2050, today’s data collection methods will be obsolete.

Applying IoT to Industry

IoT devices are likely to catch on faster in industries that require the transfer of large amounts of commodity data. Supply chain management can implement IoT technology to monitor the routes and to reduce inefficiencies. Disney chose to implement an in-house RIFD system which tracks over $100 million worth of merchandise. To date the new system has saved over $1 million by increasing inventory accuracy and decreasing human related errors.

The effectiveness of IoT technology forces humanity to rethink what future employment will look like. Jobs such as supply chain managers could be cut when devices can automatically order replacement materials and track inventory. The same technology can be used in home appliances. There will be no need to bring in a repairman when the machine could tell its user on its own what part of the system is malfunctioning, how to fix it, and then print the necessary materials.

Healthcare and IoT Nanotechnology

The progress made in healthcare will prove to be one of the most beneficial applications for IoT. The technology can be integrated into nano-devices that are small enough to operate within a human. This use of IoT has enormous implications for the healthcare industry in terms of administering patient care. Injected nano-devices will communicate health vitals to the doctor, saving both time and money.

Right now there are downsides to micro-IoT devices; the transmission range will be extremely limited because of the size and energy availability and memory. Looking forward to 2050, as medical science progresses, the health care industry will begin to adapt cost effective versions of this technology to improve the quality and reduce the cost of providing care.

Barriers to the Future

Currently the marketplace does not allow for some of these technologies to be viable and the lack of standardization will be a great barrier to implementation. Competing companies will likely use their own proprietary application in order to promote efficiency, ward off competition, and provide their own IoT environment, thus making standardization difficult to implement. The simplest solution is to start at the operating system level and provide a platform that can accommodate both the software and hardware requirements, allowing IoT networks to function to their maximum potential.

Historically security systems have accompanied the development of current capabilities. The inability to have a standardized IoT device security leaves a gap in security coverage. Cisco found that businesses are not ready to make the leap yet, as 78% of IT security professionals are unsure of the true capabilities of IoT devices and lack the necessary management and skillset to secure these devices.

Effective device authentication, secure firewalls, and updating both hardware and software ensure that IoT environments are secure from attacks. For example, sensors connected the IoT devices will need to be authenticated to the rest of the network; an insecure network opens up the possibility of devices being encroached by a malicious device, which can transmit false data or disruptive payloads to more deeply embedded devices such as servers and other data center devices.

Forty-six percent of IT security professionals believe that security threats will be the greatest application challenge when introducing IoT devices. To make the situation worse, 73% of business decision makers expect IoT devices to create security threats over the next several years. Regardless of whether or not the marketplace decides a standardized or customized approach the IoT security industry is an untapped market that will expand greatly as the world approaches 2050 in parallel to the acceleration of technological ability.

Take Apple Inc. The company provides its own OS platform for Apple products, a methodology that can be applied to future IoT development. It is likely that by 2050 current tech companies will each develop their own unique IoT environment, each providing its own unique benefits.

Another current limitation confronting IoT is Wi-Fi reliability; an inconsistent network would provide none of the benefits that the IoT network provides. In addition to a low latency response time, IoT applications require high-speed internet connections to deploy in an efficient manner. Companies ranging from startups such as Seeonic to other industry players such as Wind River are looking to improve the IoT environment by designing systems that cover every aspect of the network; ranging from Ethernet switchers to routers and embedded networks. By 2050, when devices gain greater capabilities, IoT companies will be able to expand their range of service, thus opening new markets for potential IoT use.

Forward to 2050

Even at the current level of technological capabilities, IoT devices demonstrate amazing accomplishments. As technological innovation advances, the marketplace will see an increase in the security and capabilities of IoT devices along with a decrease in the size and cost of application. By 2050, when devices come standardized with IoT compatibility, there will be a proliferation of use far beyond what can be perceived currently. While no one can predict the future and what it holds, IoT devices will most certainly make life easier and provide a fundamental change in how people operate in relation to society.

Now, re-envision that mug of coffee.