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The future will flourish with machines. We’ve been told this in pop culture for decades, from the helpful robots of the Jetsons, to the infamous Skynet of the Terminator movies, to the omniscient “computer” of Star Trek. Smart, connected devices will be ubiquitous and it’s up to us, the humans, to decide what’s next.
According to industry research, the number of wirelessly connected devices could range from 26 billion to over 30 billion by the year 2020. These devices will be in constant communication with other devices, applications and humans. Most of all, they will be logging data at unfathomable levels. EMC estimates that the digital universe will total 44 zettabytes (or 44 trillion gigabytes) of data by 2020, or about ten times what it is today.
But the Internet of Things (IoT) is about more than devices and data. The rise of mobile computing gives us a guide for IoT’s potential path. While the buzz of mobile computing really began in 2000, its true maturation required several infrastructure elements that came together right after the launch of the iPhone in 2007:
- Speed – Fast mobile data from 4G networks
- Usability – iOS’s touchscreen UI and advanced browser
- Apps – Mature, useful applications and an app store to deliver them
In a similar vein, the Internet of Things (IoT) finally has its infrastructure reaching maturity:
- Ubiquity – Sensors that are now cheap enough to be included in almost any item
- Edge computing – Cost-effective, efficient edge computing frameworks to process and respond in real-time
- Centralized, scale - out computing –Scalable distributed computing to analyze, process and store all of the freshly created data
But most of all, compelling use cases have emerged at both the consumer and corporate levels to drive IoT investments forward.
Applications for the Internet of Things
In the Internet of Things, the application governs the interation between users, the devices, and the database. This could vary from the touchscreen of a homeowner’s Nest thermostat, to an ERP system that manages a manufacturing titan’s supply chain. There are many types of IoT use cases:
Proactive Fault Response and Prevention
Capital equipment is one of the first places where the Internet of Things is providing tangible results. There are some very important “things” like locomotives, medical equipment and nuclear reactors where large investments in capturing and processing device data have been made. If we think of a