Perhaps because many people disregarded the fact that blockchain would enable the Internet of Things (IoT), these two looming and disruptive technological advents are often billed as signs of the new era. Right now, that would be unfortunate for the IoT, as blockchain technology’s allure has fizzled, at least in the minds of venture capitalists.
Chipmakers are already heavily invested in the coming IoT, but despite that the numbers speak easily of billions when talking about ultimate adoption, its spread is likely to be far more organic than investors hope. Indeed, piecemeal adoption and a slow rise in the number of connected devices is the anticipated scenario, not overnight fireworks that see billionaires emerging.
It was Kevin Ashton who, in 1999, coined the term “the Internet of Things.” The notion gained significant traction years later after a 2011 Gartner report gave it credibility and recognition in a new light. Deemed an emerging technology in the report, it’s now recognised as a looming social evolution, one that sees us hand over many of our mundane decisions to smart devices.
At its most basic, Internet of Things, technology is connecting digital and physical components. Moreover, such IoT components will share data without human interference, thus creating a world of devices talking to devices. This is common technology today, but the level of conversation, the extent of the control, and the extent of device application make the IoT a happenstance.
Every IoT component will sport an identification that makes it recognisable, giving rise to a group chat of several devices with their own function and desires, or several billion. Right now, human error in the form of weak passwords, insecure updates, and overall network services are limitations developers are working to eliminate in order to enable the IoT’s commercial roll out for the masses.
The IoT in its current guises
The commercial interface is the logical base camp for the Internet of Things. Business can glean efficiency and shed many costs in the anticipated new push-button paradise. The so-called Commercial IoT comes with challenges, as any business owner is currently wide-eyed about online security and the safety of their data. The IoT does mean you’ll need professionals to keep your data safe and secure, but that’s been a reality for decades now, and unlikely to worsen with the IoT. Notably, the healthcare and transportation industries are leading the way with the IoT – think smart pacemakers and smart warehouses talking to vehicles that talk to each other.
Closely aligned is the Industrial Internet of Things, where everything from big data, digital process control, subsequent evaluation, and even smart agriculture is gearing to attain new levels in the IoT age. The Internet of Military Things (IoMT) is looking to enhance individual soldiers, military weapons and surveillance. Indeed, military intelligence might be mostly artificial intelligence from the ground up in future.
There’s also the “Infrastructure IoT” – a byproduct of our social natures. Smart cities of the near future will be making management decisions for a healthier and safer living thanks to intelligent sensors and connected citizens.
Lastly, the Consumer IoT will no doubt be the poster child for the IoT as a whole. Homes of the future will be saturated with smart devices, with home appliances, light fixtures and anything that opens and shuts linking to one another. Voice-enabled frail care for home-bound seniors is likely to see a huge uptick, too.
The IoT, coming soon
While the picture has been painted, adopting the vision of an utterly connected modern globe is not going to be as simple as consumers buying the latest iPhone. Adoption is unlikely to enjoy that kind of pace or reach, at least for a few years. It appears people simply aren’t ready yet. According to US surveys, companies are largely unmapped on the issue of where, how and even why they would adopt a completely connected infrastructure. Very few American companies are at the point of the Internet of Things adoption in terms of their processes, products and services.
Security tops the list of commercial concerns, as a rudimentary understanding dictates that hackable devices can play havoc with business success. Where the Internet of Things is looming in workplaces, most applications are in trial stages to determine the concept’s feasibility and security.
Although it’s not quite so black and white, a point of vulnerability within a company’s IoT can expose all data to a breach. The interconnectedness of so much on the IoT means that every single component will need to be hacker-proof. A breach at one point leading to a wholesale exposure of data is what business fears the most about the Internet of Things. New encryption protocols are undoubtedly going to emerge in order to secure the reality of the IoT. No matter the fears among company executives, they still rank the IoT as the single greatest arena for growth and profits – whether as suppliers or implementers of the technology.
More than AI or robotic automation, business is looking towards the Internet of Things for truly disruptive innovation. Not only menial labour is set to be a contested arena between humans and robots within a decade or two. With the Internet of Things, a multitude of checking, counting, controlling and quantifying tasks will become faster, more accurate and more readily available, whereas, for commerce, AI and robotics may or may not apply. With the IoT, everyone is potentially a winner, and interoperability, business gains, and further implementation are already a reality.
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