The Internet of Things (IoT), driven by certain important technological developments, is on its way to become the next technological wave. According to Gartner, revenue from IoT products and services will exceed $300 billion in the year 2020, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. The IoT has the potential to change our lives fundamentally. For example, if you are a cardiac patient and need to provide your heart rate information to your doctor every hour without visiting the clinic, IoT can make it possible. If you're wearing an IoT-connected heart monitor, the doctor just needs to review your heart rate information every hour and suggest treatment. However, for IoT to become a potent force, it needs to first be supported by several technological developments. The main objective of these technological developments may not be to support IoT, but while the developments continue to unfold, IoT innovation is going to receive a massive boost.
Below are some of the different technological advancements that are driving IoT.
Connected Device Development
There is currently a trend wherein a lot of investment is being poured into making devices that are capable of connecting with any device. While we know about laptops, desktops and smartphones, other devices such as televisions, lights, showers, door locks and refrigerators are evolving into devices capable of connectivity.
IoT is going to generate an enormous volume of data, and you need space to store and process this data. Only cloud computing has the potential to flawlessly and quickly process such enormous data volume. For example, when millions of intelligent devices send important health parameters to doctors all over the world, huge volumes of data are generated and only the cloud is capable of processing such data.
A number of important developments have been taking place, making cloud computing one of the most forceful drivers of IoT. First, identity management solutions are being developed to provide data security. Additionally, the cloud is becoming more efficient and scalable. To leverage these advantages, multiple platform-compliant cloud-based applications are under development. Since IoT is not confined to laptops, desktops or mobile devices, data exchange between different platforms in the cloud is going to become easier.
With IoT, more than a million devices are going to be interconnected. Needless to say, each of these devices is going to need an IP address. IPv4, the Internet protocol that almost all devices are currently using, is not equipped to handle the surge in demand for IP addresses. IPv4 also has certain issues that can challenge the very core of the IoT. IPv4 is not known to be an extremely secure protocol. This can pose real risks because a lot of confidential data sharing is going to take place. It is also known to have connectivity complications and issues. Furthermore, IPv4 does not allow devices to roam to different geographical areas and yet remain attached to the same IP address.
IPv6, also known as IPv6ng, or next generation, addresses all of these issues and offers even more benefits. It offers four times more bits on the Internet to address a device. These extra bits are capable of giving approximately 3.4×1038 address combinations. This enables it to accommodate almost every requirement for space allotment. IPv6 also allows each host to connect directly with other hosts over the Internet, subject to organization security and firewall policies. IPv6 allows devices to remain connected with the same IP address even when it is roaming in a different area. Another benefit, though optional, IPv6 offers the IPSec feature that makes the connectivity between devices more secure.
Inter-device interaction is one of the salient features of IoT. It does not matter that the devices are built on different technologies. Sensors fitted in the devices enable them to interact with different devices without any issues. Sensors are at the core of IoT. For example, if you want to unlock the main door of your house, the sensor fitted in the key may unlock the door, which immediately sends a message to the lights to turn on and the thermostat sets the room temperature to normal. These activities all happen in concert.
IoT sensors are manufactured in much the same way as microprocessors. They are manufactured based on the lithography process so that several copies of a sensor can be rolled out simultaneously. IoT sensors are programmed to perform only a specific task and nothing more. You can pair an IoT sensor with a microprocessor and attach it with a wireless radio for communication purposes.
Many of the activities that are contributing to the IoT becoming a potent force are sponsored by multinational giants, obviously for commercial gains. IoT can potentially provide a goldmine of customer information such as customer preferences, hobbies, electronic gadgets used and professions. Multinational corporations can utilize the information to tailor and sell their offerings. IoT can help these corporations produce robust, customer-focused products and services.
A lot of marketing automation software is being developed that is capable of automating marketing processes such as customer data integration, customer segmentation and campaign management. Evidently, a lot of investment is being made into building intelligent marketing automation systems that can capitalize on the key information IoT devices provide. Highly intelligent marketing automation applications need key and actionable customer data, and IoT is capable of providing that. Marketing automation and IoT are mutually dependent.
Analytics as a Service
The emergence of analytics as a service has given a boost to marketing campaigns. Analytics as a service is sold on a fee or subscription basis and customers do not need to have an elaborate setup or infrastructure to use it. Analytics as a service is delivered as a Web application or technology that simply needs a browser to run. All that the customer needs to do is to buy a subscription and use the service. The customer may discontinue the subscription when they no longer need the service. From a customer’s perspective, it is an economic and convenient arrangement. Naturally, this service has been gaining a lot of popularity. So, marketing campaigns that need more and more of the data generated by the IoT are immensely benefiting from the growth of analytics as a service. In fact, analytics as a service has made marketing automation even better and more economic. So, it is like a chain — marketing automation is going to push the growth of both analytics services and IoT.
Apps are at the core of IoT. Apps facilitate the exchange of data between devices. The explosion of apps has been taking IoT to new levels every day. Apps have been facilitating just about everything IoT does. The following examples of categories of apps show just how critical they have been for IoT:
- Smart parking apps that monitor parking spaces available in a city
- Structural health apps that monitor vibrations and the conditions of materials in bridges and buildings
- Noise monitoring apps that monitor the sound decibels in sensitive areas such as schools, residential areas and hospitals
- Waste management apps that can detect the levels of trash in containers so that the collection routes can be optimized
The Internet of Things is still in its infancy, and while we currently have some ideas of how it will be used and further developed, it's possible that it may evolve into something we couldn't possibly imagine. The forces driving IoT growth and development have the potential to steer it in many directions.