Newton’s Second Law states that the rate of increase in velocity of a moving system adds momentum to it, causing further acceleration in its motion. From an IoT perspective, the momentum of this technology has not only pulled in more hardware and software in from the edge of the network but also caused a historic evolution of electrical and mechanical devices that do not require software integration or internet connectivity for their primary functionalities.
With the onset of the fourth industrial revolution, manufacturers have entered a race to develop products that are faster, smarter and better than their predecessors. These smart devices are being progressively latched on to the internet to communicate with each other, the users, satellites, data centres and other smart systems, to collectively form what is known as the Internet of Things or IoT.
1. Data collection and improved end-user experience
From the labs to the industry to consumers, IoT and IoT devices display a spectrum of production and automation applications. The year 2019 witnessed the highest wave in the awareness and adaptation of emerging technologies like blockchain, AI, RPA, and IoT by retail consumers for gadget luxuries like Amazon’s Alexa that can play your favourite music and Tesla’s roadster that can repair itself “Over the air”, to mention a few.
Data on smart IoT devices gets collected via IoT sensors that are programmed to track the physical environment and user behaviour of the device. The data output of these IoT sensors gets then relayed to one or multiple systems via the internet, in order to carry out a programmed task. A good example of this is, a smart Air Conditioner automatically regulating its user’s home temperature upon receiving an arrival cue from a connected smart car or a smartphone.
However, this consumer adaptation of IoT was preceded by a quieter, yet mammoth industrial implementation, where IoT has now evolved to become a necessity for key multi-level operations and survival. The 2018 IoT Innovation Report by Deloitte, brought to light an estimate by Boston Consulting Group anticipating 25 billion IoT devices to be on a real-time intelligent interaction IoT network by 2020. Manufacturing, transportation and energy sectors are predicted to be the major spenders of the incoming global yearly expense of USD 310 billion on IoT next year. This includes IoT implementation, maintenance, staff training, R&D as well as specialised IoT software development practices.
Automation of processes from user-data and network-connectivity may have its roots in the Information Technology sector, but IoT today is an integral part of every industry, right down to production from fully automated and remotely controlled factory-floor connected to off-site monitors and wearable interfaces. Samsung has successfully operational smart-factories where IoT is has eliminated time-lags, information lapses, errors and the need for human intervention in the manufacture, and in predictive as well as preventative maintenance.
3. Smart technology
This rise in highlighted IoT trends is carrying the message of IoT into every user experience from factories to offices, vehicles and phones all the way to home appliances. Smart lighting systems and traffic control meters are installed across California towards a fully automated traffic management system. General Electric is developing IoT platforms and methodologies for smart-city devices, multi-sensor system implementations like ‘CityIQ’. IoT has initiated a connectome of smart cities that communicate with each other in real-time and learn from relevant data available on any connected network or device. Smart traffic management plans are providing great relief to daily commuters and successfully clearing ways for emergency vehicles like ambulances.
4. Healthcare and health protection
The shortest routes to nearest hospitals just are one of the countless healthcare promises of IoT support available to us now. Healthcare is rapidly accepting the help of IoT in-form of network-enabled medical devices that can monitor the health of patients, and send notifications to and from their healthcare provider as needed. Health and Safety regulations enforcement is actively being advocated for public places and the food industry. We now have options of using sensors embedded in IoT devices that check and highlight temperatures, contaminations or any safety breaches in real time. An emergency heat map or a sanitation alert can reach concerned departments within seconds, along with all relevant data reports and suggestive measures.
5. Mobile keeps growing
It is not just physical devices that are becoming smarter and more appealing to the end user. In 2019 UK homes are seeing utilities like gas and electric supplies get regulated via customer mobile phones from anywhere on the globe. This energy saving feature introduced by companies like E.On has given their customers a sense of safety and control never seen before.
Utility meters are also being fitted with sensors that generate user data to track device performance, consumption patterns or any repairs needed.
6. Smart technology
Business Intelligence software tools have transformed the way we buy products and services. Smart refrigerators can monitor user food purchase habits and then take regular stock inventories to suggest refills. This data can be seamlessly relayed to home assistants like Cortana or Siri that can facilitate an online grocery shopping routine for the user. Frequent travellers in IoT enriched parts of the world are finding themselves heavily dependent on their internet device assistants to arrange travel, hotels and scheduled reminders.
7. Artificial intelligence
IoT devices are a tangible representation of elite technologies like Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation, that are now available to mankind as subservient user-friendly hardware and software. 2019 truly has brought device connectivity to each household, and with open source IoT hardware for software development, like Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, any user can create an internet enabled IoT device at home as efficiently as a software development engineer.
8. NLP on the rise
This year has seen an extensive adaptation of NLP (Natural Language Processing) by IoT devices that make user experience effortless. NLP is used for complex tasks where a voice command can flawlessly process a bank transaction across time-zones, within minutes or generate sentiment reports from a twitter feed. Another noteworthy IoT attraction for consumers has been Computer Vision and its Face and Object Recognition applications that use Deep Learning for Optical Component Analysis of visual data coming to and from the device. Our GPUs and networks now have the computational capacity for parallel processing of millions of data inputs, to produce intelligent outputs that save lives, money, energy and time, all independent of location or wires.
9. Privacy and legal concerns
With such ease of use for the consumer, there has been a noticeably worrisome ease-of-access to the consumer. The year 2019 witnessed global technology giants like Google and Facebook being questioned about user data, privacy and societal impact of technology at Congressional hearings. This is a significant trend in the history of IoT indicating a heightened need for regulations of technology outbreaks over the internet and protecting the public interest.
10. Potential end of monopolies
Targeted marketing has become a public nuisance and seems to be ever increasing with more and more user data being requested in exchange for free internet services. June 2019 has Apple Inc. in a class-action Antitrust lawsuit worth billions of dollars, approved by the United States Supreme Court.
The lawsuit highlights an alleged monopoly in the Apple App Store that is affecting millions of users and iOS developers. Apple’s App Store powers countless IoT devices through its applications, and this legislative check can significantly impact an entire internet-enabled system of dependent users and iOS devices.
This year triggered a louder debate on network security and safety measures, which the majority of users have declared as a non-negotiable parameter as we move forward. From an innovation stand-point, on one hand we see our favourite technologies and their leaders being questioned and challenged. Yet on another hand, we see an era of exciting opportunities for fair and successful IoT software development practices that call to be found.