In your home, at work, around your wrist and in the city you live, Internet Of Things has already made its way into all our lives. We can no longer deem it just a buzzword, a trend that shall eventually pass – remember when people said that about cloud computing? Yes, IoT is still in its early stages, much like the WWW was in 1995. But its growth is happening as we speak.
Facts & Projections
According to a Business Insider report, there will be 34 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. While businesses will the top adopter of IoT devices, the retail market will also see its fair share of growth. It total, $6 trillion will be spent on IoT devices.
A Gartner report states that, by the end of 2016, no less than 6.4 billion connected devices will be used (that is a 30% increase from 2015) and this number will increase to 11.4 billion by 2018. Another interesting piece of information comes from this report: by 2017, 50% of IoT devices will be developed by companies that are no older than three years old. Furthermore, 50% of businesses already have an IoT roadmap, irrespective of the field they are in.
What to expect
All reports predict huge growth for the IoT market; but, at the same time, there are more skeptical voices, which point out that in order for this growth to be sustainable, IoT vendors need to come up with robust, long-term solutions for problems that users are unlikely to be patient with in the long run.
The most pressing problem is security. It is a major problem not only for the users who install smart devices in their homes, but for the Internet at large, as the recent DVR-powered botnet incident. The problem of securing the IoT is not only technically and ethically complex, but also requires a security management process, rather than a punctual solution to a few technical hurdles. The matter is even murkier because keeping systems secure in the long run requires non-invasive, efficient updating mechanisms, and a firmly-established chain of trust with reliable device authentication and authorization. But the current, fully Internet-based approaches to this problem are not technically-trivial; Ken Tola, CEO IoT security startup Phantom told TechCrunch: “Current options rely on internet connections which kill batteries, overwhelm the extremely fragile mesh networks onto which most IoT systems rely and fail completely when the internet goes down”.
Energy consumption is another challenge that IoT vendors are up against. In their current state, smart devices are certainly capable of autonomously functioning for enough time to be used efficiently, but the problem is by no means solved. Efforts are being carried out on both essential fronts: on the battery side, improved energy density is a hot research topic, and on the wireless communication side, faster and more power-efficient protocols are being developed.