"IoT is transforming the everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that will enrich our lives. From refrigerators to parking spaces to houses, the IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold every day, which will likely make the IoT a multi-trillion dollar industry in the near future." — PricewaterhouseCoopers report
Imagine a world where 20 to 100 billion devices are connected to each other to collect information and act on it. Just as smartphones revolutionized the modern society, the power of billions of devices working together will unleash new products and services which will improve our lifestyle. Gartner and other analytical firms estimate that we will reach this goal by 2025.
A “thing” in Internet of Things (IoT) can be any device with an on/off switch. These things are usually sensors that are used to collect information. This data is then sent to the cloud using an internet connection. The concept of IoT gets exciting when a device acts on the information being received, often times, without human input.
IoT is designed to add value in various industries including consumer electronics, healthcare, automobile, energy, smart cities and connected homes.
There can a be significant value from the use of IoT devices to consumers and businesses. It can help save time and add efficiency by getting various tasks completed. It will help consumers achieve their wants better. This is all done by having information at our fingertips without having the entire data locally. Consumers can have a better experience through seeing devices and human interact using vast amount of data to simplify their day-to-day life.
The challenges can stem from user adoption and awareness. Just as in most products and services in the market, it may take some time for users to adopt new products and services available to them. With time and effective marketing, this barrier should be removed. Security can be a significant concern when it comes to IoT. All it takes is one device to not be secured for a hacker to potentially penetrate and make the data unusable or cause unwanted outcomes. This can be an opportunity for security companies working in this area and for governments to establish clear regulations for IoT activities.
Today, we see many examples of IoT at work already. Cars use sensors to warn us of low tire pressure. Temperature is being controlled inside the house automatically based on human input or the device learning on its own from the weather forecast. We are able to actively monitor our sleep patterns and exercise routines using wearable devices. Cities are managing their infrastructure more efficiently using smart devices.
With billions of IoT devices coming into effect, there is a growing need to manage the returns process for these devices. Manufacturers and service providers are turning to reverse logistics industry experts to provide product lifecycle management solutions to meet the increased consumer demand.
Many believe that we have only reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes to IoT. Rapid deployment of smart ecosystems consisting of connected devices and platforms will take place in the marketplace. The introduction of the 5G wireless networks will be a real catalyst in opening many doors for IoT to thrive with faster speeds and predictions of an eightfold increase in data usage rates.
Governments around the world are making significant commitments towards enabling infrastructure needed for IoT. Research centers are engaged in inventing underlying technologies in hardware and software. Established technology companies are leveraging their market positions to diversify into IoT. Startups are eagerly exploring ideas related to devices, applications, platforms and solutions. Incubators and venture capital firms are connecting the resources are available to support the startup activities in this area.
Mosaic Lab, powered by CSI and TELUS, is an example of an innovation hub for IoT devices located in Scarborough, Ontario. Mosaic Lab is guiding startups to launch tracking solutions for consumers such as a wearable device for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Another solution it promotes is for municipalities to effectively manage waste services by installing sensors in garbage bins that are tracked by applications to optimize collection routes and times.
We can all look forward to IoT helping us to improve our decision-making capacity through the intelligence of IoT. Sensors in consumer and industrial products will collect data to be analyzed and used for providing directions by recognizing patterns. This will help eliminate many routine tasks but improve the things we do best even better.