The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a term tossed around since it was first suggested by technologist Kevin Ashton back in 1999. In the last two decades, it has been used to describe all kinds of devices, most of which connect to the Internet to collect data for interested users. While the IoT sector has lost some of its hype due to challenges with creating widespread adoption, it continues to grow in the background and is poised to experience major growth in 2017 due to significant advancements in both software and device technologies.
Data from Statista shows that the global wearables market is likely to grow to over $53 billion, demonstrating that consumers are ready for new connected devices. While these kinds of devices have been the primary drivers of innovation in the IoT sphere, enterprise solutions are likely to be the next wave of IoT success.
The number of IoT technologies in the industry is growing at a rapid pace. Research shows that by 2020 there will be over 50 billion connected devices. With that many devices predicted to be connecting and collecting valuable data, it is no wonder that companies are looking for ways to leverage IoT solutions, to gather data to give insights on everything from customer behavior to operational efficiency.
Integrated IoT Platforms Emerge
IoT is poised to revolutionize data management through the sheer volume of sensors and devices collecting information. That number of devices, however, poses a significant problem for the industry. Integrating devices from different manufacturers is a challenge, and many devices require the use of a proprietary app. No one wants to download countless apps for all their devices. That's why people are turning to platforms that make unified interfaces and platforms for devices.
Rabih Nassar, CEO and founder of Scriptr, an IoT integration company, explains how to solve this problem. "Despite industry efforts toward standardization, there is an absence of standards for industrial and B2B vendors. As a result, these groups will need to use platforms that create custom implementations that will vary from project to project depending on the multiple vendors involved and particular project requirements."
Solutions like this could enable enterprises to start leveraging IoT without the headache of managing multiple apps and devices. They can also help secure better data integrity since they automate the sharing of data and remove human error. Nassar explains, "Having identity and security services available natively within our platform increases the security of the resulting solution tremendously. It forces application programmers to adopt a single application security framework and central identity." As these integrated platforms increase in number, more companies will be able to scale IoT solutions to increase competitive advantage.
Consumer Devices Drive Adoption
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas attracted over 160,000 people this year, all coming to see the latest developments in consumer tech. IoT had a good year at CES with more home sensors than ever before, and several new entrants into the fitness IoT industry. As devices become integrated into everyday life, people are more willing to test out new developments. Numerous sensors gained traction at the event, especially those that tied into existing consumer trends. For example, sleep health has been at the forefront of health discussions thanks to sleep tracking wearables and the launch of wellness companies like Arianna Huffington's Thrive. Some examples of different sensors at CES were bands that could be placed on the bed to track sleep patterns, fitness wear that tracks vitals in real time, and presentation screens that react to human motion. Enterprise Level IoT Solutions
Large companies are beginning to leverage IoT solutions in ways that previously weren't possible. One of the main reasons is that sensor technology has become more standardized and therefore much more affordable. As demand increases, the number of providers willing to offer affordable hardware solutions is on the rise. Federal support for IoT initiatives is also helping identify new applications for IoT technologies. Last year at SXSW the Transportation Secretary launched a national "Smart Cities" competition. The winner, Columbus OH, received federal grants to continue developing IoT solutions to upgrade infrastructure.
Critics of the IoT industry argue that the number of different devices without a unified ecosystem will slow development, but the industry's performance thus far would indicate that the need for the data these devices provides outweighs the challenges that come with working across multiple platforms.
For consumers interested in IoT it is vital to research brands before opting-in to ensure that the company will be around to continue supporting your device for the period you plan to use it.