To some of you, the phrase “internet of things” may be outdated (it was first used by Kevin Ashton in 1999) , to others it may be brand new. Regardless, prepare yourself to be over inundated with people throwing this term around as it rapidly gains popularity in the world of digital buzz phrases.
“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and will be able to identify themselves to other devices. The term is closely identified with RFID as the method of communication, although it could also include other sensor technologies, other wireless technologies, QR codes, etc. IoT is significant because an object that can represent itself digitally becomes something greater than when the object existed by itself. No longer does the object relate just to you, but now it is connected to objects around it, data from a database, etc. When many objects act in unison, they are referred to as having ambient intelligence.” -Techopedia
Alternate terms to IoT are “Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology” and “hyper connectivity”.
- Your car detects (via GPS and a connection to the internet) that you are driving by an appliance store. It connects to your internet-enabled fridge, which checks to see if your water filter needs replacing. If yes, then your car’s bluetooth audio system asks you if you would like to place an order for the water filter with a next-day delivery to your home address. This transaction is then stored in a cloud database and used to build the intelligence of your car and your fridge.
- Here are hundreds of examples of “smart” products for sale right now
According to a recent Scotiabank report, the 140 million M2M connections today, is expected to rise astronomically to 50 billion by 2020.
Why the sudden growth rate?
It’s the perfect storm. Let’s focus on Canada:
- Smartphone penetration rates have hit 50%
- 11% of Canadians say they wouldn’t want to live without their smartphones
- 39% of Canadians say they sleep with their devices within arm’s reach
- 80% of Canadians like the idea of receiving automatic notifications
- Mobile internet usage has grown exponentially over the last 12 months alone (check your own website stats)
- Consumers are now actively using contextually specific utility based mobile apps (geo-location, code scanning, etc…) in their day-to-day lives
- Near Field Communication (NFC) is taking off thanks to Android device penetration (Apple will follow suite shortly)
- Pretty much all new TV’s being sold in 2013 are now “smart” (i.e have the ability to connect to the internet). It’s no longer sufficient to call them TV’s. They are essentially large screens. What you use them for has few boundaries.
What has happened is that as people got used to the above, they began to ask themselves: Why can’t my car be “smart”? my fridge? my bike? my pedometer?
So what is the “low-hanging fruit”?
According to Canadian Business magazine, within 3-5 years all new cars are expected to be equipped with wireless connections. Also, expect to see car manufactures begin using existing mobile platforms such as Android or iOS, with which the majority of world internet users are already familiar with.
The internet of things isn’t the future. Look around you, it’s already here.