When we talk about the Internet of Things, or IoT solutions, we are referring to the billions of devices and sensors around the world that are connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. Thanks to cheap processors, smart gateways, and wireless— and wired— networks, it’s possible to turn anything, from biosensors to an entire airplane, into part of the IoT. This “IoT-fication” adds digital intelligence to devices that would otherwise be dumb, enabling them to communicate without human interaction and merging the digital and physical worlds. IoT-fication is market-driven: manufacturers connect their devices to provide innovative functionalities, improve operations, and enable predictive maintenance.
Examples of IoT Devices
Any physical object can be turned into an IoT device by connecting it to the internet. Whether it utilizes a one-way communication— a data stream is uploaded to the internet— or a two-way communication meaning that the device is monitored and controlled that way.
The humble lightbulb, or light switch, can be turned into an IoT device and can then be switched on using a smartphone app, just as a motion sensor, a smart thermostat (at home or in the office), or a connected streetlight. A fluffy toy can be turned into an IoT device. A driverless truck is definitely an IoT device, as are jet engines that have thousands of sensors built in collecting and transmitting data back to the manufacturer and the airline to make sure it is operating safely and efficiently.
How Big is the Internet of Things?
The IoT market is big and it’s getting bigger— there are already more connected things than people in the world. According to Gartner, the number of IoT devices will pass the 11 billion mark in 2018. More than half will be consumer products like smart TVs and smart speakers, while the most-used enterprise IoT devices will be smart electric meters and commercial security cameras.
How Will the IoT Evolve?
To answer that question, let’s look at a few trends. The IoT market and the IT market are using the same technologies, and the IT market has seen a steady cost reduction for many years now. The performance of available computing resources, such as memory, CPUs, and disk drives, has increased dramatically, while the size and price have dropped at the same time. Similarly, the cost of IoT solutions is dropping steadily.
The cost of connectivity and bandwidth is also falling. This will be a core success and acceleration factor. IoT technology adoption and integration by manufacturers and software developers are driven by low technology cost combined with a high performance.
Therefore, we expect that the deployment of IoT solutions in a connected global network of devices and people will accelerate in the coming decade. This network of IoT devices will provide innovative functionalities, improved and more predictable operations, and will support and interact with individuals and businesses each and every day.