In this installment, I’m going to provide a few ideas on the coming Internet of Things, or IoT as it has been called. We are just entering the early stages with wearables, home security, and controllable color-changing lightbulbs.
Startups and entrepreneurs will have many ways of taking advantage of the IoT.
1 – Security
It’s difficult enough keeping smartphones out of areas or businesses, or at a minimum keeping them turned off. Wearables and small devices make the issue of security more urgent. The IoT will need to worry about devices that not only collect data but transmit as well. It’s just a matter of time until we see audio and video pickups embedded into clothing or smartwatches; a few already do.
Miniaturization of IoT devices will make them ubiquitous.
Technologies will need to be developed to detect these wearable components, and at some point “damping” technologies will be required and commercially available to jam reception and transmission in a localized area. This will become more cost-effective than specialized detectors in public areas such as airports.
2 – Competition
Devices will follow the evolutionary steps of the computer industry. At first, vendors will create proprietary devices with proprietary data stream protocols There will be a need to create gateways and routers that allow disparate devices to exchange data. As the IoT evolves, payload protocols (note, not the connection protocols) will become more “standards-based” allowing devices from different vendors to seamlessly interoperate.
The Internet of Things will see an uptick in the number of established companies and new companies entering this arena. The cost of devices will be high initially but will plummet quickly due to increases of scale and improvements in process and manufacturing. The goal should be low-cost, disposable, environment-friendly wearables and devices.
Supporting and fixing a broken computer, car, or toaster is still possible. Swapping a watch battery is still possible, but even that is a dying business. The sheer number , variety, and small size of coming devices will make fixing these objects a nightmare. Support of these objects will come down to answering questions and at most replacement. Again this points to a low-cost, disposable approach. There will be exceptions.
4 – Opportunities
The IoT will provide new opportunities for infrastructure, products, companies, software, security, and data management. At some level every business will need to take the IoT into account if not directly involved in it. A lot of startups will come and go. A few will be able to outlive the rest and will be the Apples and Googles of the future.
The IoT is currently focused on the individual and home. The IoT will move into manufacturing, medicine, and other business arenas.
5 – Data Overload and Interference
Providing connectivity and bandwidth may become problematic. Devices of the IoT will easily outnumber the current plethora of smartphones and “smart devices” given their future ubiquity and small size. All of these devices will be streaming data that will need to be collected and analyzed. This will be seriously “big data”. Companies will develop dedicated “collection point” devices that collect and forward data for analysis, react to control other devices, as well as to update device firmware. At some point the F.C.C. in the U.S. will become involved to help manage security and inter-device interference complaints.
There are a lot we can’t predict about the IoT, but if things keep moving as they have, the IoT will change a lot at every level of life and business.