Last year, the high-tech catchphrase of the moment was "bring your own device" (aka BYOD). For 2014, the top contender has to be "Internet of Things" ( IoT).
There are a lot of concepts rolled up under the IoT moniker, ranging from wearable gadgets like Google Glass or FitBit that have a range of consumer and commercial applications to the millions of data-gathering sensors being deployed on behalf of "smart" applications, such as energy management. Integral to the functionality of these devices is their ability to communicate, usually in some sort of wireless fashion; along with the back-end databases and business intelligence tools to make sense of all the data they are gathering.
Data from Cisco suggests that were approximately 13 billion Internet-connected devices by the end of 2013, including phones, chips, sensors and implants.
What does the emergence of IoT technology mean for the IT channel? A new report published by the PewResearch Internet Project offers some perspective from close to 1,900 experts and stakeholders, who were asked to offer their ideas for the most likely IoT solutions to emerge by 2025.
Most of those experts believe that the IoT will be deeply embedded across our society by that time, in visible and invisible ways. "We are entering the telemetric age – an age where we create information in everything that we do," said Patrick Tucker, one of the respondents, and author of The Naked Future: What Happens In a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? "As computation continues to grow less costly, we will incorporate more data-collecting devices into our lives."
From an IT solutions perspective, the IoT could inspire intriguing new applications. Consider, for example, an innovative system developed by Salesforce.com and Heroku integrator Ionia (recently acquired by LogMeIn's Xively cloud services division). The solution communicates information about when drug research freezers are opened, and which supplies are used, into a Salesforce application for seamless inventory management. When a scientist needs something, he or she punches a code into a tablet computer, which controls the freezer door. The application can even alert the laboratory if the door is accidentally left open.
That's just one example of how the IoT might play a role in the IT channel's life, here are some other potential applications that could touch your world:
- Medical diagnostics, including body-worn sensors that monitor health conditions on behalf of doctors
- Industrial systems that might more precisely monitor manufacturing or distribution processes on a broader basis
- Smart homes, where the IoT might play a role in controlling energy or water consumption
That's just the tip of the iceberg, and it's now just a decade away.
Image courtesy of New England Biolabs