If you are a frequent reader of technology news, you already know all about the trend that experts are calling the Internet of Things. Essentially, the whole trend is brought on by the ability for manufacturers to incorporate internet or network connectivity into commercially offered devices that haven’t had that kind of integration in the past. For the average technology user, the whole thing sounds, at best, marginally interesting, but as it grows, it is important for people to understand some of the more amazing statistics. The fact is that it’s a world-changing shift that is much, much larger than many people believe.
We’ve figured out how to give nearly everything we produce an address and have enough bandwidth to allow for device-to-device communications. Couple that with the rise in massive data storage systems that will allow us to store the exchanges that we have with these connected devices, and you have a perfect storm of innovation coming together to create something that’s not just substantive, but ultimately, useful.
As it is, every organization that covers technology has parroted the fact that this computing trend is the next big thing, with good reason. It is going to affect the entire infrastructure from wired to wireless, from home to office to mobile, everywhere you go, there will be dozens of devices that are connected to the internet. What applications can we expect from the IoT? We’ve already seen a pretty large jump in the number of devices on the Internet of Things, and every study out there, suggests that this is only the beginning. To be accurate, the beginning was actually 1998, when the term “Internet of Things” was coined, but considering that the growth of the IoT hadn’t really started until the last 18 months, the statistics come fast and furious, including:
- Cisco Systems Internet Business Solutions Group states that as of the end of 2015 that there are around 25 billion devices that can be connected to the internet, and that number is expected to double over the next four years.
- Gartner tallies are a little more conservative, currently at around five billion devices, as they measure the amount of IoT devices on what they call the “installed base”. This measure represents the number of chips that are manufactured for the distinct purpose of installing them in devices. Gartner expects this number to grow to almost seven billion by the end of 2016 and nearly 21 billion by 2020.
- Gartner also estimates that with five and a half million devices added every day that the internet of things will support a whopping $265 billion of services spending in 2016 alone, an increase of nearly 23% from 2015 totals. They also state that nearly $550 billion will be spent by consumers simply purchasing this technology in 2016.
- “The embedded Internet” a network where billions of intelligent embedded devices connect with centralized computing systems (and, of course, to each other) is already handling over 15 billion devices.
This suggests that the Internet of Things will easily be the fastest growing computing trend in history. But what are these devices? These numbers are all well and good, and from a consumer standpoint, they suggest the complete viability of the data transmission systems used to control and run these devices, but of the devices on the Internet at this moment which are completely commercially feasible? Some of the devices currently connected to the Internet of Things include:
- Wearable technology – The smartwatch, the fitness band, and the controversial smart glasses are all examples that have this technology available today. In 2014 there were a mere 30 million wearable devices in the world, sometime this year (2016), there will be over 100 million.
- Consumer goods – One of the longest available smart technologies is the smart television, which debuted several years ago and has come to dominate the television market. In fact, eMarketer has estimated that nearly half of all televisions purchased in the United States in 2014 had smart capabilities. Other appliances that are rolling out smart models include washers, dryers, refrigerators, ranges, microwaves, dishwashers, and more.
- Smart cars – The smart car doesn’t just have Internet capabilities, it has hundreds of sensors that are designed to let a car owner know what the condition the parts that make up the car are in. As you can imagine, it has the potential to be an extremely useful technological breakthrough, helping auto owners proactively maintain their car.
- Smart Home – Worried you forgot to turn down the heat? Left the outside light on? Locked the door or left the toaster plugged in? Not any more! Homeowners can purchase thermostats, lights, locks, special outlets, security cameras, and other things that can be checked on and controlled from a mobile device.
With the current trend in the IoT, soon the entire world, and everything we use will be connected to the internet, leaving future generations the question of “How did we get anything done without all of this technology?”. The real question is, would they be able to cope without it? We’ll leave that up for discussion!