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The Internet of Things, Fad, Fiction or Frightening?

Gartner predict that by 2020 there will be over 20 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things¹ (or IoT for short), worth a potential $2 trillion worth of business in emerging and divergent markets.

With such a bounty available, it’s rather a case of when, not if, your business will need to follow this trend of ubiquitous connectivity.

The principle of the IoT is of an interconnected world, utilising the Internet infrastructure to connect devices across the globe. Real world examples include smart metering such as Nest and the more recently advertised Samsung washing machines operated wirelessly using Wi-Fi. In fact a colleague was recently demonstrating, via an iPad app, how his heating at home operates based on the location of his family members, tracked via their iPhone. His device identifies that you are 30 minutes from home and the heating goes on ready for when you arrive, based on a pre-programmed temperature. This type of technology is both accommodating for day-to-day life and cost effective, whilst also dramatically reducing a family’s carbon footprint.

There are wild ideas out there such as an internet enabled cat feeder or seed planter. Is the IoT therefore just a fad, filled with weird and wonderful ideas of how to manage menial tasks via an app from anywhere in world? Or will the IoT rumble through a technology enablement period and re-emerge stronger?

With technological advance comes technical change and challenge and the IoT is likely one of the largest information technology challenges we face in the near future. The “simple” transition from IPV4 to IPV6, the introduction of new protocols, for new smart devices, needing new infrastructure, to support new software, using more data.

And most important, what about security? Can you imagine someone hacking into your laptop from your Internet-connected oven? The BBC² seems to think so. They invited seven security experts to try and hack into some of the newest smart gadgets and the result were astounding, with every single device easily compromised.

The amount of change is likely to be astounding. So should we be disappointed? More prudently perhaps, we should be getting ready. And next time you turn your smart oven on, perhaps it may be prudent to log out of your online banking.

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