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Chandrahas Panigrahi

The article talks about how IoT would transform the way we live, work and play, and enable new interactions between humans and machines. As valuable as IoT has been already for industrial applications, the consumer side of IoT has the potential to profoundly and very visibly transform our everyday lives.

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IoT – An Invisible Force, Changing the Face of Global Technology

As valuable as IoT has been already for industrial applications, the consumer side of IoT has the potential to profoundly and very visibly transform our everyday lives.

Are we looking at a machine enabled future? Where devices will execute most of the human task? Looking at the present technology scenario, it is easier to predict that we are approaching towards a time when your bed side alarm clock will also be able to dispense coffee right after you wake up. Seems unrealistic, but very much possible.

It has been predicted that IoT would transform the way we live, work and play, and enable new interactions between humans and machines. As valuable as IoT has been already for industrial applications, the consumer side of IoT has the potential to profoundly and very visibly transform our everyday lives.

If given a close look at the scenario, almost every day, across the world, devices are getting connected to the Internet — thermostats, water meters, home alarms, kitchen gadgets, medical equipment, factory machinery and let’s not forget cars. Infact a recent report by Gartner stated that, “there will be nearly 20.8 billion devices on the internet of things by 2020”. This Internet of Things is evolving rapidly, and with it, consumers are more connected than ever before.

The IoT landscape globally, has witnessed many transformations since 2013, when we were trying to make sense of the “Internet of things”; in late 2014 it seemed IoT has reached full escape velocity; and in 2016 we have been witnessing different trends and discoveries which would revolutionize the space. Let’s take a look at the top trends that will define the Internet of Things in 2017 and beyond.

Industries are aggressively trying to explore various ways through which they can assure the maximum use of technology. In the next 10 years, this industry will be all about content, hardware, services and software all packaged into one. It is here, that large industries would try and come up with devices and machines which would be useful for any kind of information seeking. With the mass adoption of IoT slowly creeping in, a handful of trends have emerged in the space.

Devices will work in Harmony – By this we typically mean, moving beyond the traditional desktop computer and mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) to encompass the full range of endpoints with which humans might interact. Connection models will expand and greater cooperative interaction between devices will emerge.

Automated-Self driven Vehicles – In the near future, what we could expect to see is a vehicle self drive and self park, while we sit back and enjoy. This is only possible through IoT, and depending on the technology deployed. Vehicles might be synced with Google maps that lay down the available routes to your destination and smart algorithms for the distance estimation. Yet what sounds fascinating, is not very easy to execute, keeping in mind the complicated control engineering to get this whole thing right.

Customer experience is evolving in the direction of IoT - From retailers incorporating sensors into mobile apps to chip cards and mobile payment redefining the transaction process, a number of important developments will be seen in the evolution of ‘customer experience,’ many driven by IoT technologies.

The value chain has been witnessing movement due to IoT - 2016 brought numerous examples of traditional companies driving bottom line growth (to core products and services) by investing, integrating, acquiring, or expanding into entirely new offerings and relationships. Adoption of IoT by consumer centric industries have further given a considerable lift to the preferences of people, thereby increasing the demand of consumer specific IoT devices.

Data will be the King - The IoT is already generating tremendous amounts of data, which in turn would compel companies to figure out ways to monetize it. All this data can be fed into a technology portal that will enable businesses automate routine tasks, detect trends from operations and, from those trends, optimize processes.

Government money and grants are flowing towards smart transportation and smart cities - These are the most complicated problems to solve, but they also hold the greatest benefits for the public. Realizing the power of IoT, and utilizing it to build our infrastructure, would support and create a stable ecosystem. According to Ericsson Mobility report issued in June, “2016 clearly states that as many as 16 billion connected devices will be Internet of Things (IoT) technology-enabled by 2021”. For example, Sterlite Technologies, is working towards building Internet network capacities and system in two smart cities, which is Gandhinagar and Jaipur.

Though we are just at the initial stage of IoT adoption, where the future holds a major scope for the trend to thrive, we are also experiencing a phase when IoT today is largely at this inflection point where “the future is already here but it is not evenly distributed”.

So, how do we ensure this even distribution? Is it through proper understanding of the space, or by making sure that resources are being put to applicable use? The lack of understanding of what IoT is, and the hype that surrounds it, have pushed expectations beyond what may be achievable in the next few years. Even though growth in the past has been promising across most IoT sectors, the early forecasts mentioned by industry professionals are already starting to look unrealistic. Specific Industries are yet to adopt IoT, creating certain amount of friction in the smooth growth of the space.

The entire industrial ecosystem is not yet matured, which in turn will impact the fundamental vision of IoT. There is no single technology platform adopted across the IoT industry, which is preventing a large and healthy ecosystem from emerging. This is very different from the early days of the web where any HTML-compliant browser could be used to navigate any website from the very start.

Though IoT is an exciting term in itself, but what should be the major concern is, with connectivity comes security issues. In the case of IoT applications, consumers today are still very much in the dark on what information is being collected about them and for what purpose.

They don’t know if their data may be used in ways that may affect their employment, access to credit, insurance rates, or even expose them to physical risks. Industries are skeptical of the fact that, will IoT `adoption ease their work or add up to various security breaches. This mindset will take a little more time to change, which would require people to explore the possibilities of what benefits can IoT bring with it.

However, just like how online banking and e-commerce has caught on IoT will also be a part of our lives sooner or later. With the sheer number of connected devices and the benefit of using big data and intelligent devices the benefits will far outweigh any initial teething troubles. As more consumers and businesses become accustomed to IoT, they will see that more of their needs for efficiency and convenience are met, thereby gaining wider acceptance and adoption. The future will be IoT and any company who ignores it will be left behind.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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