This phrase “Internet of Things” is making big rounds these days, specially this week at CES (Consumer Electronic Show), Las Vegas. Not sure who came up with this, maybe Cisco in one of their self-serving predictions of the enormous growth of devices connected to the Internet (from about 10 billion today to 50 billion by 2020) and hence the need for their networking gear. John Chambers will elaborate this opportunity at CES in a keynote speech tomorrow. Gartner puts the number of connected devices at fewer than 30 billion, but sees $309 billion in additional revenue for products and service suppliers by 2020.
So the next wave of computing has started in a big way: from smartphones and tablets we move to wearables and other gadgets connected to various home entities. Example of devices on the market or on the drawing board include smart door locks, toothbrushes, wrist-watches, fitness trackers (I wear one called Fitbit to track the steps and distance I walk plus floors I climb plus calories I burn), smoke detectors, surveillance cameras, ovens, toys, and robots.
One of the best start-ups called Nest Labs (founded by ex Apple executive Tony Fadell) supplies beautifully-designed Wi-Fi enabled thermostats (costs couple of hundred dollars at Home Depot) and smoke detectors. Another company called August is developing smart door locks. Consumers can now use smartphones to remotely check if they locked doors, left the light on or turned down the thermostat. Parking meters can communicate with smartphones users.
There will be several hurdles in connecting all these devices seamlessly – main one seems to be the fragmented assortment of wireless communications technologies. Someone said that things are getting connected badly. Privacy issues also come up as something to sort out. But there is no doubt that this evolution is on in a big way. This week’s CES features key executives from Google, Twitter, Yahoo, besides the usual consumer product giants like Sony, Samsung, LG, etc. A whole series of connected devices to home appliances will be there. This assumes cloud computing and Big Data as base technologies. There is enormous optimism on the vast opportunity this IoT will generate.
I am heading there tomorrow to see first hand this new revolution on display.