It is estimated that there will be 34 billion devices connecting to the Internet by 2020. Of those, 24 billion will be the Internet of Things (IoT)-related. On top of that, an astounding $6 trillion will pour into IoT solutions over the next few years.
Amazon and Google have already begun investing heavily in the IoT ecosystem. Smaller companies are getting in on the game by offering up promising IoT solutions that ask for little investment from consumers.
Homes are getting “smarter” by allowing consumers to customize and connect devices to allow for better communication and more efficient resource usage (i.e., energy consumption). Voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to connected services and where we’re going with them.
Here we dive into some of the devices and trends driving the next wave of IoT innovation:
The Future of IoT: What to Expect & Connected Devices That Could Change Our Lives in the Near Future
The scale of IoT means that we’re on the verge of some significant societal changes.
Just when we thought tech was moving at a rapid pace, things are about to pick up speed. From artificial intelligence and smart homes to 5G networks and smart cities, the IoT is likely to reshape how we live in some fundamental ways in the near future.
Here are some specifics on how IoT is shaping up to change our lives:
Our Cities Become Smarter
Are we ready to say goodbye to gridlock?
Many global cities are already moving in that direction. A few examples of how cities are using smart tech to evolve:
Barcelona is embedding sensors into parking spaces giving drivers real-time information on empty spots available.
Philadelphia has invested in solar-powered garbage cans that crush waste and dispatch for pickup when they’re full, resulting in $1M in savings on fuel, maintenance, and labor costs due to reduced garbage-collection shifts.
Tel Aviv has reduced traffic by reserving one lane for buses, cabs, carpools, and shuttles while also giving access to drivers that can pay more for the use of the exclusive lane. Sensors detect the car’s license plate and charge the driver varying rates depending on how busy the road is.
Some cities have installed stoplights embedded with video sensors that adjust green and red lights based on the location of cars and the time of day, reducing congestion and smog.
As more cities embed these tech advances into their operations, quality of life improves for citizens and the bottom line for the government (and the environment) improves.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence Grows
When all the various devices that make up the IoT (thermostats, lighting systems, smart home hubs, voice assistants, etc.) collect data on patterns of use, the data are used to support machine learning.
As the data grows, these machines learn our preferences and continually adjust themselves without someone needing to program them. For example, when you’re offered to view follow-up videos on YouTube after watching a video of your choosing, it’s likely because YouTube’s system has learned your preferences based on past viewing choices.
More and more, IoT devices will engage in this type of learning while also learning from each other within linked networks to better serve our needs and desires. In this way, we can expect more automation and personalization within and across devices as they grow more attuned to our expectations.
5G Networks Will Fuel Innovation and Risk
Fifth-generation cellular wireless (5G) is being rolled out by wireless carriers and promises faster speeds and better connectivity for smart devices.
This means that smart devices will be able to gather, analyze, and manage accumulated data to a much higher degree. Companies that make IoT devices will benefit from this as consumer demand for new products grows.
At the same time, as more devices connect to the 5G network (as opposed to a WiFi router), they become more vulnerable to targeted attacks. Monitoring IoT devices at home will become more challenging as the devices bypass a central router. More cloud-based storage will also allow for new avenues for breaches as well.
5G advances are an excellent example of how increased convenience and access come with higher risks as well.
Routers Become More Secure
Many IoT products exist in the home and are rushed into the market without adequate security systems in place.
Enter the router.
As the main entry point of the Internet into a home, the router plays an important role when it comes to security. Since many devices themselves do not have the best protection, the router can offer protection at the entry point.
Conventional routers already come with basic security in the form of firewalls, password protection, and configuration setting tailored for specific devices. Moving forward into the IoT explosion, routers will likely have an outsized role in boosting security in the home and among IoT devices.
Cars Level Up
Our cars are already smarter than we think.
They increasingly analyze data and connect with other IoT devices, even today. Driverless cars and fully autonomous cars are on the near horizon as automotive and tech companies work to shape this new technology. Just look at the self-driving prototypes launched by Google as well as Tesla’s autopilot software.
Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology allows cars to interact with each other over various networks and is one of a few technologies that will enable autonomous cars to perform as we hope they will work one day.
Another technology that is sure to aid in the rise of autonomous vehicles is smart road technology. Sensors embedded in roads will connect with vehicles and allow for reductions in traffic congestion. Smart roads also protect riders in these cars amidst hazardous driving conditions like wet or icy surfaces.
While autonomous and self-driving vehicles seem far off, one estimate predicted that by 2040, nearly 100 million autonomous cars would be rolled out. Beyond that seemingly distant point, most new vehicles could be expected to be autonomous.
Smart Homes Take Off
The array of advances coming to fruition with the advent of smart homes is stunning as well.
We’ll soon have smart lighting that can detect the presence (or absence) of occupants and adjust accordingly. Smart cameras that allow you to monitor your house remotely are already readily available.
Your next Airbnb visitor could encounter your smart lock that is programmed to allow (or deny) access to visitors based on specific identifying information. An example of this is Amazon Key that allows authorized shippers to access Amazon Prime member’s homes or post office boxes to allow for more efficient shipping and delivery.
No more worrying about turning off lights manually and unplugging appliances from outlets to save energy and improve efficiency—the smart home can take care of that.
Even thinking about vulnerable populations like the elderly, smart homes could be enabled to monitor their health and even call a medical professional when needed or remind them to take certain medications.
Smart homes are poised to use the IoT revolution to unleash a wave of home-based innovations to improve the places in which we reside significantly in the coming years.
How Content Will Play a Role in These Devices
The thing to remember about IoT and the future of connected services: They all require the seamless, integrated use of content across multiple devices in increasingly sophisticated ways.
How will all of this data get managed at constantly increasing speeds?
How will such revolutionary machine learning be facilitated?
One solution is a headless CMS that can effectively sync these connected devices using a nimble yet flexible microservices architecture.
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