The Internet Of Things has had a lot of press over the last few years – from the dubious functionality of Bluetooth-connected irons to the dangers of having your stuffed toy pet hacked, but for all that, the advantages of interconnectivity have borne fruit in a lot of cases, and the Internet Of Things seems here to stay.

Now that the horror stories have been and gone, and customers continue to invest in connected devices – with over 31 billion connected devices predicted to be in circulation worldwide by 2020, it’s a good time to see what potential the IoT holds in the near future.

5G and the Internet of Things (IoT)

5G for IoT

One of the most significant forthcoming developments for the IoT, and mobile computing in general, is the imminent widespread construction of 5G networking. Simply by supplying devices with much greater speed and connectivity, the potential application and practical use of interconnected devices could increase rapidly – and with increased stability and access, customers are sure to buy into the hardware.

A adjunct to that development is the increasing power of cloud computing – with networks being able to handle ever greater loads of data, onboard processing can be kept to a minimum, allowing smaller and more compact hardware to be installed on ever-more devices.

Car navigational system

IoT in Automotive

Another big driver for the IoT has been the automotive industry. Traditionally driven by the hunt for the next big thing in technology, the automotive industry has fully embraced the IoT, with many cars being network connected now beyond the simple needs of mapping programs.

With the ability to do everything from warm a car up in good time before the drivers gets in, to updating driving-assist software, and in the near future adding automated driving capabilities, it won’t be long before more cars are connected to networks than not.

One of the great advantages of network connectivity is the ability to monitor and solve problems across a larger distributed range of nodes than would otherwise be possible. This ties in neatly with another ongoing development in computing, AI and machine learning. By distributing computing power across a wide range of smaller devices, the IoT has the potential to make maximum use of machine learning systems, and as AI technology develops it will no doubt become a major part of the functionality of interconnected devices.

The security implications of such large networks have already been widely documented, with instances such as remote car hacking and distributed botnets making the news in recent times. Part of the reason for that has been a lack of standardised security protocols, which is something that cybersecurity companies have been working hard on.

Expect to see new standards and even laws being put into place to deal with these issues, although finding international consensus may prove difficult.

IoT-enabled bike rental

IoT in Urban Developments

The IoT will also play a big role in urban developments. Already there are many instances where services like bike rental and information kiosks can be accessed remotely via mobile computing or wearable technology and that trend will only continue, particularly in situations where it could save time and money – think transit systems and building access, for example.

Although less is made of the IoT as a key selling point for new products than it once was, that is perhaps down to it’s near-ubiquitous adoption across a host of systems. That trend is only likely to continue, and so the interconnected future of product design looks bright.