Businesses and consumers are eagerly anticipating the continued advancement towards a connected world, but getting there will take step progress. Several leading young entrepreneurs have their say on what they think those next steps are.
When mainstream media talk about the next big thing, IoT is often trumpeted. But within the IoT world, we’re busy looking at new applications for IoT and how other technologies will impact the future connected world.
Members of the Young Entrepreneur Council recently gave their views on the next big things in IoT to The Next Web. We’ve rounded up some of the best.
Smart cities and transportation
The use of connected devices in major urban areas isn’t exactly new, but the report’s participants predict huge savings in both energy and money will be made in the years ahead: “Everything ranging from street lights and parking meters, to sewage grates and sprinkler systems, will be connected to the internet and interlinked”.
Another said that traffic lights that can optimise the change of signal based on traffic patterns have the potential to significantly improve traffic congestion in major cities.
A more connected network between students, teachers and parents could transform not only the learning experience, but also how homework and research is conducted away from the classroom.
One expert also predicts a solution for the major disconnect between resistance-training devices and the knowledge of how to optimally use them. Immediate biofeedback from health devices could help strength-training equipment, which hasn’t changed in decades, become connected and intelligent, offering personalized help.
Marketing and retail
Platforms such as Facebook and Google have transformed the advertising industry by enabling hyper-targeting of users based on everything from location to interests. IoT can take this to the next level: “To create a more personal brand experience, marketers will advance their intelligent agent strategies to reach this mostly uncharted customer base this year” says one expert.
With the right implementation and software solutions, a meshed beacon network will enable retailers to track an individual shopper’s needs and habits to provide special offers at the right time.
A survey last year revealed almost three-quarters of retail industry executives plan to invest in beacons by 2021. While 75% plan to tailor the in-store experience to individual customers, almost as many said they plan to use sensors, analytics and automation to get real-time product visibility in their supply chain.
Read more: 70% of retailers to invest in beacons
The current slow, inefficient healthcare system has long been used an example of an area that can be improved by ICT solutions. “Telemedicine will be big and so will additional technology to support operations such as record keeping, sharing reports across multiple locations, and dispensing medications”, says the report.
We are absolutely seeing some traction in these areas. Just a few months ago, the USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first digital pill.
How do we get there?
In many of these cases the technology already exists, so getting there is more an issue of scaling those technologies. Power is an issue on both the consumer and device side.
One of the biggest roadblocks for widespread adoption of certain solutions is the reliance on the smartphone, which needs to be charged regularly. Advances in battery technology have been promised for years, but perhaps they won’t be needed after all.
For a good practical example, look to how the AirFuel Alliance is working with Shenzhen City, China. The resonance-based smart city ecosystem is designed to make it easy for Chinese consumers and businesses to stay connected without wires.
Read more: Wireless charging coming to Shenzhen
As for the IoT devices themselves, power becomes a serious issue for product designers to consider when a system at scale could include thousands of individual devices.
Nordic Semiconductor’s chips use very little power to deliver high throughput of data and can run for months on a single small coin-cell battery. The small size enables solutions to be developed that can fit into tiny spaces without compromising the design too much.
There’s also a world of opportunity in taking advantage of the already-powered lighting network in industrial and commercial environments.
Read more: Bluetooth mesh in lighting: What comes next?
Security and privacy of private data
As the upcoming EU GDPR legislation raises the bar legally, consumers are also becoming more aware about these issues. The recent case of Facebook and Cambridge Analytics has catapulted data security and privacy into the mainstream. While the EU GDPR is seen as a roadblock by some in the industry, smart devices should be more secure and more private as a result.
If we see quantum computing power put into everyday use, passwords will likely become obsolete as it will become a matter of when and not if they are hacked. Given the much-publicised security issues with some IoT solutions, the future of passwords will be an interesting area to watch.
Read more: Blockchain for IoT Security
What do you think are the biggest applications for IoT we will see over the coming years, and what do we need to do to get there?