IOT (Internet Of Things), is a term first coined by British innovator Kevin Ashton in 1999. It was only a decade later when IOT started to gain serious momentum albeit with a different solution model and use case than the one originally envisioned by Kevin Ashton.
Ashton was working on a project in supply chain optimization for P&G where he was using a new technology called RFID. Since internet was hot in those years he came up with the term “Internet of Things” in order to present his project to the P&G management. It was only a decade later when IOT started to gain serious momentum albeit with a different solution model and use case than the one originally envisioned.
IOT has both consumer and industrial applications and while what is known of IOT is mainly in the consumer space, there are many industrial use cases for IOT covering various verticals.
During the last several years, companies like Google and Amazon have launched major marketing efforts to market their consumer IOT and Smart Home solutions. That is in addition to efforts by smaller companies and startups all contributing to the growing attention paid to the IOT. As this market continue to grow it is expected to have significance socio-economical impacts in the coming years. By various estimates IOT is forecasted to contribute from 2 to 7 trillion dollars to the worldwide GDP by 2025.
The Reason Behind Its Low Penetration Rate
However despite all the hype surrounding IOT and some sexy smart home products that have been introduced, the actual penetration of IOT solutions has been low and it will take some time for it to reach mass market penetration. The key reason behind this rather slow growth is due to the several factors including lack of standards, privacy issues, and steep pricing for the introduced solutions which makes people wonder what all these mean and how they could benefit from these technologies.
Like many other emerging technology areas the answer to fast adaption by consumers lies in products that could create some level of emotional attachment. And for IOT there are areas like healthcare monitoring devices, wearable, security, and asset tracking which could answer questions that consumers have and allow them to experience these solutions first hand and find out what role IOT could play in their life.
The above segments and similar connected use cases in consumer IOT are among areas where entrepreneurs could further focus and develop new product ideas and solutions. Areas like health care and wearable are also a bit less complex than of some other IOT solutions specially in the Industrial IOT where development in multiple technology areas, such as Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, are required.
Industrial IOT and M2M
Industrial IOT which, among others, is the use case of IOT in verticals such as manufacturing, oil & gas, utility, petrochemical, agriculture and smart cities is another segment of IOT which will have significant benefit for industries in the coming years. Some of these industries currently are served by another technology called M2M (Machine to Machine) which has a node to node communication nature but lacks the “Systems and People” element that IOT incorporate.
M2M can be seen as a subset of the IOT whereas in M2M we deal with isolated systems of sensors and islands of telemetry data whereas in IOT these islands of telemetry data are connected to large cloud-based network to or from which remote sensors send or receive data. None the less sensors designed for M2M systems, which send data through any 2G or above cellular network, can still coexist and work as part of larger IOT platform and continue to send and receive data to and from the same cloud system. These M2M sensors which are currently used in Fleet Management, Utility grid lines, oil & gas facilities, and other remote monitoring applications will continue to exist for a while along with the new IOT optimized sensors.
Altogether it is forecasted that by 2025 somewhere between 40 Billion to 50 Billion devices will be connected to the Internet through IOT platforms. This is compared to the estimated 3.5 Billion people that are currently connected to the Internet.
Perhaps the first major successful application of IOT can be seen in what we call Telematics or Connected Vehicle services and now the emerging Autonomous vehicles being added to that. The Automotive area alone is contributing massively to the amount of data being sent or received to and from cloud systems and backends. IOT sensors used in the Smart Home systems are also being connected to vehicles and soon provide a well connected home, vehicle, office environment in which sensors in your home are controlled remotely and can connect to your vehicle to transfer data between Connected Home/Office and Connected Vehicle. All these will create massive of amount of data far more than what is exchanged today through internet and is expected to give prominent role to a new technology area called Big Data Analytics which is fast emerging and is now being employed by Automotive OEMs in NAFTA and European regions. This technology area deals with data science and analytics in order to make sense of such vast amount of data that will be collected continuously and provide analytic to those who own these data. Big Data Analytic by itself is a separate subject that deserve attention for new emerging markets that have educated workforce with knowledge in areas like data science and software development.
As far as connectivity LTE based communication is one of the connectivity choices that is being considered with talk of LTE IOT network, an optimized version of LTE for transfer of data in the IOT platforms, being one choice for IOT connectivity solution. There are couple other IOT specific connectivity solutions such as Sigfox and Lora which are gaining serious momentum.
IOT will continue to evolve and despite challenges in the short term there are significant potentials in the mid to long term as this relatively new technology area start to flourish. For emerging economies like Iran which are moving from the industrial age to the knowledge-based economies in order to create a creative and rewarding environment in any new technology area like IOT government need to support by national planning and enacting business related laws and regulations in areas such as corporate structuring, tax laws, Intellectual Property rights and similar areas in order to pave the way for entrepreneurs to innovate and come up with product ideas and encourage investors to see technology area as a serious investment tool.