Essentially, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices link to each other via the Internet. In 2009, there were 2.5 billion connected devices; most of these were mobile phones, PCs and tablets. By 2020, there will be over 30 billion connected devices of far greater variety.
“IoT is definitely a mega-trend in our industry. Everyone is talking about the IoT, it is everywhere,” said Sullivan. “That is why numerous companies are working to set up specific business units to manage various aspects of the Internet of Things.”
However, Sullivan noted that while the IoT is well on its way to becoming a reality, only a minority of devices are currently connected to the Internet.
“The IoT is still in a relatively nascent stage. Nevertheless, the Internet of Things will quickly evolve as it becomes a particularly explosive market. Security and privacy are going to be especially critical for the IoT, specifically when it comes to wearables,” Sullivan explained.
“Similarly, managing IoT-related Big Data will be another challenge for the industry. How does one efficiently store, process, track and analyze terabytes of real-time streaming data – all while tailoring the information for a specific individual? Companies that figure out that formula, namely making IoT data useful and easily accessible for the non-technical masses, will be successful.”
In addition to monitoring exercise stats, wearables like smartwatches or pendants can be used to improve the health of individuals, no matter what their age or level of physical fitness.
“Health insurance companies can leverage wearables such as fitness trackers to monitor individual heath in real-time, with healthy lifestyles helping to drive down premiums. Obviously, such devices must be easy to use and comfortable to wear,” he noted.
“Health-based wearables can also help doctors more easily monitor and analyze a patient’s blood sugar, heart rates, sleep patterns, exercise and daily activities.”
Smart energy platforms is another topic Sullivan discussed, as designing an efficient, connected grid will go a long way in helping to reduce waste in residential and commercial buildings.
“Pumps, gas-lines and related infrastructure will ultimately be connected to the IoT, helping utility companies to pinpoint issues before they become a real problem for people,” Sullivan added.
“We’ll be seeing the very same approach when it comes to next-gen vehicles, as both cars and trucks roll out of the factories loaded with advanced sensors to help alleviate traffic and significantly reduce accidents, whether on a crowded city street or fast highway. For example, your car will tell you, perhaps via a HUD (heads-up display) when a specific route is jammed and automatically choose another route. Your car will also talk to other vehicles, helping to avoid collisions.”
Last, but certainly not least, Sullivan talked about the automated IoT home, which, in the not too distant future will be protected by smart locks, cleaned by intelligent vacuum cleaners and filled with connected appliances such as intelligent lighting and thermostats, washing machines, refrigerators, coffee makers and ovens.
“The IoT will play a big part in connected homes, providing instant market intelligence to companies and remotely alerting users when their refrigerators are empty, clothes are clean, coffee is hot, food is ready, house is too cold and room is too dim,” he concluded.