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Will 2015 be the year for the Internet of Things?

Katie Beton - January 9th 2015

You may or may not have heard about the Internet of Things (IoT) but you may already be using it.  Some of Christmas 2014’s best-selling technology includes the Samsung Gear Fit, the fitness tech band Fitbit Force and the Sonos Multi-Room System. 

2014 was the biggest year yet for IoT with an estimated global revenue of 4.2 Billion Pounds.  Some industry enthusiasts claimed the possibilities of IoT were akin to “the next industrial revolution”.

But what is the IoT and how long has it been around?

The Oxford Dictionary describes the Internet of Things as, “A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data”.  These everyday objects include home appliances, thermostats and automobiles.

 Despite the IoT sounding like technology of the future it has been around for decades.  In 1982 four Carnegie Mellon University students created the first Internet Coke Machine.  The programmers got sick of taking trips to the machine only to find it empty or recently filled with warm cans so they connected it to the Internet.  This allowed them to check the number of cans in the machine and monitor their temperature.

In 1999 the term “Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton.  Since then the industry has grown quietly and has gained huge momentum in the last few years

Despite its current growth the IoT is still in its infancy.  However, research shoes that mainstream adoption is inevitable as it become less expensive to integrate sensors into physical objects, particularly around in-home smart devices and wearable devices.

We are already seeing computer and sensor-infused objects in a variety of industries, including automotive, energy, consumer electronics and in-home appliances.

In 2012 it was estimated that there were 8.7 billion connected devices and this is predicted to rise to between 50 billion and 75 billion devices by 2020.

 

How will the IoT affect us in the future?

Make our cities smarter

Our smart cities will use digital technologies to enhance performance and wellbeing, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.

Smart Cities will manage anything from managing traffic, parking, CCTV and streetlights to litter bins that ask to be emptied. 

In January 2013 Glasgow beat 29 other UK cities last year to win the £24m Future Cities grant from the technology strategy board, the UK government’s innovation fund.  The programme aims to demonstrate how technology can make life in the city smarter, safer and more sustainable.

Make our Homes more efficient

Our homes are going to become smarter and more connected over the next five years with an estimated 1.8 billion smart units to be shipped in 2019 alone.  The battle is now on, to become the leader in this emerging market.

Apple HomeKit, rumoured to be launched in 2015, will allow home owners to control their lights, thermostats, locks, cameras and smoke alarms from their iPhone or iPad.  It will allow all of them to be paired together and take voice commands from Siri. 

Home security company Nest Labs, recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion, specialise in smart thermostats and smart smoke alarms.  However Nest plans to become a central hub and software platform that controls many devices in the home as more are connected to the Internet."

Samsung Smart Home will also be competing for their place in the home automation market but will also integrate with their own range of Smart Appliances.  It’s now possible to monitor the freshness of your food in your fridge whilst monitoring which items are stocked even automatically ordering items online once removed or out of date.  The smart fridge also gives you a list of recipes based on what food is left in your fridge.  These appliances can be controlled from a Samsung tablet, smartphone and eventually you’re TV.

Improve Healthcare

Many of us currently use our smartphones to monitor our health with a variety of apps and connected devices.  Controversially it is now possible to monitor our health with microchips inside of our bodies.

Doctors and family members are now able to monitor if a patent has taken their medicine with a computer chip embedded into a pill, roughly the size of a grain of sand.  Once ingested, the sensor communicates with a patch on your skin, which uploads the data to a nearby tablet or smartphone.  Made entirely of edible ingredients, the sensors themselves draw their power from the acids in your stomach.

A longer term solution allows doctors to monitor patients suffering from diabetes or being treated with chemotherapy with a 14mm health chip that is implanted under the skin.

Ailments such as Osteoporosis can be treated by a computerised device which sits under the skin.  About the size of a pacemaker the implant releases drugs into the body on a carefully regulated schedule.  Recently tested on 7 female patients the device released 19 daily doses replacing the need for injections and proved to be just as effective.

Change the Way We Travel

The IoT has a massive potential to change the way we travel making our journeys quicker and safer. 

Autonomous vehicles, combined with data from our Smart Cities, will be able to drive us to our destination via our smart devices whilst calculating the best route.  This has the potential to create new business models.  Do you really need to own a car if you can book one with your smartphone, unlock it, get dropped off and off it goes to its next customer?

US technology company GM OnStar has developed a system in GM cars which can be unlocked and started from your smartphone.  It can also detect if a crash has occurred and automatically calls 9-1-1.

Facial recognition software is being used at London City Airport, helping it monitor where passengers are and predict and prevent queues.  It can also track passengers and their luggage at the same time, so if you find yourself missing your plane, your luggage won't get boarded.

These really are exciting times in the world of Technology.  With over 22,000 patents published between 2004 and 2013 the internet of Things is set to explode over the next few years and many of us will wonder how we ever got along without it. 

At On:trac we like to think beyond technology.  We have been implementing innovative solutions since 2007.  If you are looking to implement IoT into your business get in touch with us today to open up a world of possibilities.

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