Will the world take up the IoT?

The Internet of Things (Image: chombosan via iStock)

Although some remain unconvinced of the staying power of the Internet of Things (IoT), it appears to be taking off. Zeynep Tufekci, associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has said that “smart objects may be a dumb idea”, describing that it comes with risks. Geoffrey James, contributing editor of Inc.com, has said that the IoT will “create a system so complex that it will cause more problems than it will be worth”.

But for proof that the IoT is certainly taking off, we need look no further than the US, where, for the first time, mobile networks are currently adding more IoT connections than phones.

The US has long been an early tech adopter, with trends often being welcomed there before spreading across the globe. For example, the first pre-commercial trial network with 3G was launched in Japan in 2001. The following year, the US had launched its own 3G network.

The UK wasn’t far behind in taking up the technology so is it likely that we will be hot on the heels in taking up the IoT?

Cisco, the IT provider, has estimated that by 2020 there will about 50 billion connected IoT devices around the world.

Countless businesses and industries will benefit from having their products or services connected to the IoT. For example, cargo transporters can check on the status of deliveries in real time and ensure that fuel levels are sufficient.

Currently in the US, there are more vehicles being added to mobile networks than there are phones and tablets combined. In the second quarter of 2016, US networks connected 1.4 million vehicles, 1.2 million phones and 900,000 tablets. It has been reported that the American network provider AT&T is set to connect ten million cars by 2020.

The IoT has been a growing trend for a number of years, with household objects such as thermostats and speakers being connected. Now it appears that driverless cars are going to be a very significant development within the IoT sphere.

Indeed, KPMG has estimated that completely autonomous vehicles will be driving people on entire journeys by 2030.

Internet connections also make it possible for manufacturers to collect data to improve the next version of a car and for fleet managers to continuously check on the condition of their vehicles.

Fitness trackers are another everyday object on which the IOT could have a big impact.

They monitor the wearer’s activity levels, heart rate and even body fat levels. When synced to the owner’s smartphone, they display all of the information needed for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including recommended calorie intake and how much exercise to perform.

When the IoT involves aggregating information provided by devices, these fitness trackers can be seen as a sign of things to come, which could have a huge impact on businesses and how they collect and analyse data.

Homes and businesses can also have their buildings fitted with connected devices, such as thermostats and speakers, making it possible to adjust room temperatures and music volume levels from a smartphone or tablet. These products have been in place for a number of years, which has led to people already being made aware of the benefits.

It looks as if the IoT is only on its way up.