Just like the Cloud was on everyone’s mouth a couple of years ago, the “Internet of Things” (or IoT) is one of the most important trends in technology right now. A group of technology professionals and enthusiast at this year’s MassTLC unConference had an interesting discussion on IoT and its main drivers, concerns and applications.
With the IoT, physical objects equipped with sensors and network capabilities can collect and exchange data with each other. A great debate circled on the true value of IoT, and whether it rested in the added convenience for the customer, the increased amount of data and information for the provider, or ultimately a combination of both. Also, if it was startups or established companies who were playing a bigger role in developing IoT and its applications. In this case, a head start was given to the incumbents, especially after the eventful last couple of weeks buzzing with new launches from Amazon, Microsoft and IBM.
The group pondered about the current and potential applications of IoT. From the smart thermostats and fire-alarms provided by Google’s Nest, activity trackers like Fitbit, and major applications in supply chain and shipping tracking, to automatic maintenance and repairs done online, applications in the restaurant and hospitaility industries, ending with smart home appliances that could automatically order groceries for you (similar to Amazon’s new Dash system). The conclusion? The possibilities with IoT are endless.
However, there is still a lot of question marks with IoT. In fact, the most discussed topic revolved about security and privacy issues with IoT. Although everyone in the group agreed that IoT is already making its way into our lives, with all signs pointing to this trend increasing in the future, people showed concern about the amount of personal information that could be hacked and the dangers associate it with it. One important driver of this problem is the lack of a unified standard to support the IoT platform, since every provider of the service tries to push its own procedures.
Ultimately, IoT is not just a fade and is here to stay. The big companies are already starting to see the incredible opportunities and advantages of using it, while entrepreneurs have now a new playing field to explore and possible create the next big thing.