Imagine a future where your refrigerator can buy groceries online. Where you can control your oven with your phone. Where robots on opposite sides of the globe can communicate with each other to complete their tasks more efficiently and intelligently.
There’s no need to imagine; this future is already here, thanks largely to a technological revolution called the Internet of Things (IoT). In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the hottest IoT trends of 2019.
What is IoT?
Let’s start from the beginning.
The internet was initially developed so people could use computers to send and receive data instantaneously over great distances, then store that data in a mutually accessible location. The key word here is people. In the early days of the internet, humans could only conceive of this network as something we could control using our devices as tools.
However, as technology like artificial intelligence (AI) began to emerge, experts started to realize that the true potential of the internet went far beyond humans. What if computers, robots, and even everyday appliances could use the internet autonomously to communicate with each other?
You might be surprised to learn that this idea has been around since the ‘90s. Soon after it was conceived, a technologist named Kevin Ashton coined the term “Internet of Things.” From that point, the first Internet of Things trends began to gain momentum.
How Does the Internet of Things Work?
Things interact with the internet in the same way humans do. Nowadays, anything equipped with the right tools can use the Internet of Things to access information or communicate with other objects without any explicit human intervention. Computers, robots, appliances, and other digital devices use IoT for three main reasons.
The three main reasons things use the IoT:
- To send information
- To receive information
- To use that information to learn (in the case of AI)
The Internet of Things operates on the same infrastructure as the internet we humans use. However, it requires much more server space to store the overwhelming amount of data IoT devices create. When forecasting future internet trends, we can be sure that IoT companies will need to find smart solutions to solve the issue of storing all this data.
The Latest Trends Regarding the Internet of Things
Economists, large consulting firms, and IT specialists are still trying to forecast exactly how IoT technology will change the world as we know it. But there’s one thing they all agree on: the Internet of Things will have a huge impact on the world around us. Industries from across the board, businesses from all over the world, and even governments will adopt the technology sooner rather than later. Here are some of the predictions and opinions from the sharpest minds in the global marketplace.
The Internet of Things Will Usher in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
There has been much said about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) over the past decade or so. Some people are afraid the technology will be used for malicious purposes, while others sing its praises. However, the benefits of using AI are quite clear and significant enough to be incorporated into our most basic daily functions. Nowadays, even simple predictive text apps on smartphones contain a form of AI.
A recent Gartner IoT report highlights the fact that the use of AI will increase as IoT-based services and solutions are adopted worldwide. Internet of Things services and products produce extremely large amounts of data, but this data doesn’t have much value unless it can be interpreted. Companies use AI to help understand and apply the data produced by the Internet of Things.
In its report, Gartner says businesses’ Chief Information Officers (CIOs) need to explore the potential of using AI in connection with the Internet of Things. More importantly, the report says “IoT projects are more likely to succeed if the CIO is involved.”
The Ethics Surrounding the Internet of Things
We can expect the Internet of Things to spread across the planet sooner rather than later. In the near future, an internet connection will be all you need to activate IoT products and services. Like all major changes, this raises some difficult questions. How will governments treat this technology? Who owns the data produced by IoT products and services? Could personal information be shared with big data applications against users’ wishes?
Gartner Internet of Things experts say CIOs need to look at the legal implications of their IoT strategies. This applies in particular to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Aside from any legal issues, there is also an ethical responsibility that comes with handling clients’ sensitive personal information. As IoT-based solutions gain momentum, data privacy will become even more important than it is today. Gartner predicts many companies will employ board members whose primary responsibility is to ensure they comply with regulations set out by authorities and governing bodies. It “strongly recommends that all organizations appoint either a Data Protection Officer or chief privacy officer.”
Data Broking and the Economics of Trading Information
Information is key in today’s business world. It holds the answer to more productive value chains, happier customers, and higher earnings. For generating and analyzing data, there’s no better technology than the Internet of Things.
Gartner IoT specialists believe data generated by IoT products and services will be sold and brokered. Indeed, information may soon be traded in the same way stocks are sold. In this environment, CIOs need to have clear strategies regarding data collection and preservation. Companies need to establish IT policies that govern and protect their IoT data, and employees need to be educated about the importance of guarding IoT information property.
Internet of Things Governance
Companies will need to implement governance strategies that align with data privacy laws, regulations, and accepted IoT ethics codes. Gartner predictions highlight the fact that companies need to have clear frameworks outlining the creation, storage, use, and deletion of information generated by IoT-based solutions. These frameworks will range from basic technical tasks, like regular firmware updates, to more complex issues, like the control of IoT devices and the usage of the data they produce. In short, companies need to expect the unexpected as they adapt to a world run by IoT technology.
Wireless Networking IoT-Based Technologies
IoT devices place a huge burden on networks with the abundance of data they produce. Before they implement IoT solutions, companies need to factor in power consumption, bandwidth, endpoint cost, operating cost, quality of service, latency, connection density, and range. No single solution can meet all these requirements perfectly.
For businesses, this means finding a balance between meeting the project’s operational needs while not going over budget. Gartner trends experts say the launch of the latest 5G networks will revolutionize the networking capabilities of these solutions. These faster connections will fill gaps in the current market of networking products and services used by large IoT users.
The Internet of Things and New Inventions
The sky is the limit for the Internet of Things. This amazing technology allows any device to become a “remote” to operate another device. Couple that with the application of artificial intelligence and we can now create vast international networks of computers and systems that are able to govern themselves.
With this capability, IoT technology has already given innovators the chance to design and develop inventions that will change the world. Let’s have a look at some of the top IoT devices that are already available, as well as some predictions for the near future.
New Types of Sensors
The Internet of Things opens up a whole new world of remote-controlled systems. Industries from manufacturing to retail use remote-controlled systems to automate anything from a value chain to customer experience. IoT-enabled sensors are among the latest innovations predicted to make a fast impact on the market.
Lead Analyst of Semiconductors & Electronics at Allied Market Research, Rahul Kumar, says: “The global sensor market share is expected to witness considerable growth.” Now, the market wants an IoT-enabled sensor with a wider range that can serve multiple purposes. Such a sensor would be quite expensive, but prices should become more attractive as the number of connected IoT devices on the market increases. We can expect CIOs and their teams to keep the latest developments in mind as they seek new ways to promote business innovation.
What we expect from the smart sensors of the future:
- Smaller, less obtrusive designs
- Wireless capabilities
- Lower power consumption and energy-harvesting abilities
- Increased durability to reduce maintenance needs
New IoT User and Customer Experiences
IoT helps businesses enhance customer experience in brick-and-mortar shops. Indeed, smart beacons are already installed in some of the leading U.S. retail stores. These beacons constantly monitor what’s happening inside the store to help provide customers with the most enjoyable experience as they shop.
Here’s how it works. Customers download an in-store app that works in unison with smart sensors to guide them to specific aisles and products. Soon, we can expect these apps to offer discounts on certain products based on customers’ preferences and internet history. It’s one more reason why the Internet of Things is one of the top technology trends at the moment.
Silicon Chip Innovation
Internet of Things and artificial intelligence collaborate constantly. As such, there is a high demand for devices that can facilitate this digital collaboration between two complex technologies. Usually, the biggest problem for such devices is their dependence on power. But due to the complex performance demands of AI, solutions like deep neural networks (DNNs) help facilitate smooth outputs. Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technologies need processor chips that are both strong enough and possess enough memory bandwidth to process the vast amounts of information they handle.
Engineers from MIT have already created a special chip to improve encryption. It uses a tenth of the memory space only 0.25% of the power needed by its competitors. We can expect to see similar silicon chips implemented in the best IoT devices in the near future. Such technology will provide the power and memory bandwidth necessary to cater to IoT technology’s demands.
New Careers Emerging
In the beginning, mankind had two career options. You either hunted for your food or gathered it in the form of a harvest. Fast forward to today and we have thousands of career options to choose from. As the prevalence of IoT technology increases, we can expect a range of new careers to emerge.
One of the Internet of Things trends we can expect is the need for technicians and experts in increasingly specialized fields. Creating the frameworks necessary to keep IoT networks functioning at their best will no longer be a side project; we can expect it to become a full-time career. This will pave the way for new types of specialists like IoT architects, IoT data analysts, and IoT data brokers to enter the fray.
Stats and Predictions Detailing the Numbers Behind IoT Growth
The internet is a big place, and measuring something you can’t touch or see is difficult. There are, however, aspects of the Internet of Things that we can measure and analyze. Here are some statistics that show just how much the global IoT market will grow.
The Increase in Connected Devices
IoT stats tell the remarkable story of a slow beginning followed by a massive growth rate. Tech-savvy people have been dreaming about the Internet of Things since the ‘90s. Back then, they saw what a global network of connected devices could achieve. But the infrastructure necessary to support this dream was only developed about a decade later.
In the modern world, we feel the need to be constantly connected to the internet. All day every day, we carry our smartphones, tablets, and even laptops around with us, burning through our mobile data or looking for a WiFi hotspot to connect to. And the stats confirm it. In 2003, there were about 6.3 billion people on Earth. At that time there were only about 0.5 billion internet-connected devices in the world. That is an average of 0.08 connected devices per person.
This number increased dramatically over time as IoT market trends have heated up. Since 2003, the global population has grown by about 20%. In the same period, the Internet of Things has grown exponentially. Economists say there will be about 7.6 billion people on the planet in the year 2020. They also think there will be around 50 billion connected devices in the same year. This means there will be about 6.58 internet-connected devices per person on the planet. That’s an increase of more than 8,100% between 2003 and 2020. Compare that with the global population growth rate of about 20% and you’ll realize just how large a change we’ve already seen.
Rate of Adoption
As is the case with any new technology, it’s natural for people to be skeptical of the Internet of Things. People are generally wary of change, which is why the adoption rate of a new invention tells us so much about its future. Thankfully, there are plenty of promising IoT stats that point to a high adoption rate for this fresh technology.
Aruba Networks predicts 92% of industrial organizations will adopt the Internet of Things into their operations by the end of 2019. The company also expects healthcare organizations to soon enjoy the benefits of IoT-based solutions, predicting that 87% of healthcare services and facilities will use IoT technology by the end of 2019.
The Rise of IoT Stocks
Consumer and business expenditure will reach almost $3 trillion by the year 2020. New business innovation technologies, improved marketing tools, cheaper and more productive value chains, and the rise of IoT-based stocks will drive a very competitive but lucrative industry.
As with any potentially profitable innovation, Wall Street wants a piece of IoT. DexCom designs and manufactures IoT-capable healthcare monitoring devices for diabetics. At present, DexCom is among the most traded IoT-based stocks on the NASDAQ. Honeywell International has also had significant success on the stock market since beginning to manufacture large-scale industrial devices with IoT capabilities.
Amazon has recently become the most valuable company in the world. Many people know this multinational giant purely for its online shopping platform. However, the company also manufactures some of the top IoT devices in the world. Amazon has provided an exceptional value proposition in the smart home industry, and its dominance in the online retail sector has given it the perfect platform to market its own Internet of Things products.
Now, Amazon has leveraged its online proficiency to include smart assistants, which are like virtual personal assistants. By combining the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, Amazon brings to life a computer that responds to your commands. It’s even fine-tuned to operate according to voice commands.
Data Privacy and the Risks of IoT Growth
The growth of IoT technology has already seen it spread across the globe like wildfire. People from all creeds and walks of life have access to it. Of course, if we look into our crystal ball of future internet trends, we can also see how criminals can use the technology for their own malicious purposes. So, is there any way to stop hackers from stealing your sensitive information in the IoT age? We’ve put together some tried and tested techniques you can apply to beef up your IoT security.
Good Data Privacy Habits
Read the fine print. Read the manual. Do those tedious things you aren’t too fond of. Marketing companies use the information generated by your smartphone to personally target you with specific ads. However, with rules like the GDPR in place, these companies are only allowed to use the specific information you grant them access to. Read the contracts and agreements you sign to understand what types of information you will be disclosing about yourself. And, importantly, if you find something you don’t like, raise this issue with the company to make sure your information is secure.
Understand what the IoT devices and services you use are capable of. The best IoT devices allow you to select what information they record and use. For example, if you don’t want your smart refrigerator to buy groceries for you online, simply disable that function.
Securing Your Username and Password
Most IoT products in the smart home industry require username and login details. Some of these come with a standard username and password issued by the manufacturer. You should, of course, change these details as soon as you purchase the unit. If you don’t, hackers could steal the standard login details of these products and gain access to your device and network.
Encrypt Your Networks
There are new protocols and standards being applied to the most popular IoT devices. IoT products will soon need to have their own dedicated antivirus software (since units themselves access the internet). But as it stands, not all devices have their own security software. These devices are vulnerable to online viruses and attacks launched by hackers.
Make sure you encrypt your network with WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access). This masks your network’s signal and makes it significantly harder for hackers to intercept and decipher the information you send. Encrypting your network helps to protect all connected devices that don’t have adequate security measures of their own.
IoT Security Solutions
As the Internet of Things continues to expand, the IoT security industry is sure to grow rapidly alongside it. Larger companies dealing with vast amounts of sensitive information would do well to consult IoT security specialists. In particular, companies that operate in several different countries need expert technical advice to secure their information and abide by the regulations and laws that govern the way information is treated in each of these countries.
IoT market trends will dictate the need for security experts. We can be sure there will be a direct correlation between the global growth of the IoT market and the increase in IoT security solutions.
The Future Has Already Begun
We might not have noticed it yet, but tomorrow is here. The Internet of Things has already evolved into a global market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It’s just a matter of time before it becomes a trillion-dollar industry.
The IoT trends of 2019 suggest that a whole house connected to the internet is no longer a work of science fiction. Self-driving cars are just around the corner. And your fridge will soon begin stocking itself. The Internet of Things has arrived, and life as we know it has changed forever.