It’s the latest buzzword - the Internet of Things or IoT - what is it really, how is it relevant to your business and what impact will it have?
The media just loves to jump on a new trending topic and the IoT is certainly an example of a great sounding acronym. However, in this case the IoT really is important and will impact every area of our lives. In fact, it already has for many years before it was called the IoT.
Anything connected to the Internet is technically part of the IoT. Your smartphone, your Fitbit, your iPad, your Xbox and your TV are all Internet enabled.
The IoT is an expansion of this, with almost any device you can think of (and plenty that you wouldn’t) being connected to the Internet. At home, it could include your fridge, oven, washing machine, lights, sprinklers, and heating/cooling systems and even your pet collars – yes, your pet collar!
On the roads, it will include smart traffic lights communicating with vehicles and co-ordinating traffic flows, vehicles automatically exchanging insurance details in the case of accidents, and eventually completely self-driving vehicles.
The IoT - 50 billion+ connected devices
Having devices talk to the Internet is nothing new or particularly useful beyond the gimmick factor. What makes the IoT truly different is the integration potential - smart software, smart sensors and embedded AI systems.
Imagine a smart IoT pet collar, embedded with GPS & health monitoring sensors. You could define an alert if your pet’s heart rate seems irregular. While that might be handy to know it’s not that smart. Now imagine it detects a health issue, automatically connects to your local vet, uploads a diagnosis, awaits a response from the vet, checks your calendar and books an appointment for you. While it may seem far-fetched, there are already successful GPS equipped pet collars on the market now with fitness tracking capabilities.
While the pet collar is a simple example, the applications for IoT devices are endless and savvy businesses should develop strategies to capture segments of these new markets – with everything being connected bandwidth requirements and the associated IT equipment is going to explode.
Data pipes, wireless infrastructure, switches, routers, and the associated software that needs developing; technical staff, training opportunities, new subscription and business models; and with everything being connected, security is going to be an even bigger issue.
The pace of technological change is ever increasing and the IoT future is already happening – get prepared now!