The Internet of Things (IoT) has got to be the buzz phrase of the century. We thought .com was big, this is bigger; 40-50 billion connected objects by 2020 bigger, according to an AIG report, recently out. The difference between the .com business revolution, come bubble, and the IoT is that this time it is real.
That’s a big statement and I know that the old adage, “famous last words” may come back to haunt me, but the IoT is truly a natural extension of the Internet and was inevitable. Unlike the .com debacle, the IoT is building upon something tangible. It gives us material benefits, some of which I’ll look at later. It does have its downsides, privacy and security being the obvious, but what area of technology doesn’t have privacy and security issues? As long as the downsides are recognized and steps taken to improve them, the upsides shouldn’t be held back.
The development of the Internet of Things is a bold move. The word, ‘disruption’ gets bandied about a lot but it was invented to describe this exact process. In science we talk about a “leap of logic” when a new paradigm in scientific thought is realized; Darwinian Evolution is a good example of this. The Internet of Things is similarly a leap from the Internet, a 2-dimensional, connected communications network (albeit disruptive in its own right) to 3-dimensional, multiple-connected Internet of Things and People. I add the “people” aspect to the IoT because ultimately, this is about us, the human-computer interface moving to the next level of communicability and interaction.
The Natural Selection Driving IoT: Data Driven Services
The main driving force behind the IoT is data – data that can be collected, data that can be analyzed and shared and put to use. Information is power and the IoT can really empower us, because it can generate really useful information. This is not lost on the world`s industrial powers. Pretty much every market sector has its fingers in the IoT pie and rightly so. The IoT can positively change the way we do business and also the way we live our lives.
The Internet of Things has the potential to become the ubiquitous and defacto way that we generate, communicate, analyze and consume data. It has many benefits and many industries can take advantage of it. As we said earlier, data is power and information can be used to improve many service offerings. Here are some examples from different sectors:
Digitized transport: The AIG report, “Internet of Things: Evolution or Revolution?” states that in China and India more than 400,000 people a year die in motor vehicle accidents. The engagement of IoT manufacturers in the automotive industry can help to reduce this number by using safety-focused sensors. An example of one such sensor is a seat belt by Olea Sensor Networks which uses integrated IoT sensors to analyze vital signs which is sends via Bluetooth to the Cloud. Other personal benefits of the automotive IoT will be a change in the way insurance is calculated. With IoT generated data we can expect a more tailored insurance offering.
Healthcare: The health industry has similar benefits. IoT-based health sensors have the potential for more insightful and timely diagnoses. Doctors can receive collated and pre-analyzed health data that can pinpoint problems early on. Again, a more personally tailored insurance package could be created – this could help to create a more efficient health service for all.
Aerospace: According to Plane Crash Info, “pilot error” is the most likely cause of plane crashes. Anything that can remove that type of error will make flying safer. A good example of how advanced “fly-by-wire” sensors have helped to prevent a crash was the Hudson River crash in 2009. The captain was able to focus on preventing disaster because of the help he received from these sophisticated sensors. Real-time data that can be shared instantly with maintenance teams can also help to eliminate problems that would otherwise result in a potential crash situation.
Making the IoT Work For Us
The downside of the IoT is the same as the upside, data. The downside is all about the exploitation of these data either by criminal intent or just disrespect. A friend of mine recently bought an IoT bed. When she read the T&C’s it stated that all of her biometric data was owned by the bed company, which has privacy implications. Privacy and security of data generated through the IoT does need to be addressed. An AIG report says that currently there is no single federal law that governs the collection and use of personal data. In an expanding universe of data, we really do need to work out strategies to handle privacy and security and maximize the benefits for all.
The IoT is driving new ideas and thoughts that will ultimately drive innovation in our personal, business and working lives. Projects such as the hi:project which is looking at citizen-centric IoT, and the Open Interconnect Consortium, a group of cross-industry organizations working to create an open standard for IoT interoperability, are driving the adoption and success of the Internet of Things. Industry sectors, such as healthcare, automotive, energy and aerospace are taking up the IoT mantle and building innovative eco-systems based on IoT generated data. The Internet of Things brings with it an evolutionary force that we rarely see in technology. It is opening up new opportunities, driving new business models and taking innovation to new levels.
This article is the product of a partnership between Readwrite and member companies of American International Group, Inc. Although this post is sponsored, the information and opinions expressed in the article constitute only my own beliefs.
I partnered with the brand to write this article but every word is mine