The Internet Of Things (or IoT) is a popular topic in conversations about technological innovation these days. And with the IoT seemingly on the cusp of massive expansion and widespread integration, it’s viewed by some as one of the most interesting aspects of technology to keep an eye on in 2016. So here are some things to know about where the IoT is headed and where it still requires improvement.
1. Improving Functionality Will Be A Focus
To some extent the IoT is built on existing technological tools and systems, and because of this we tend to expect it to work automatically. That’s to say, you know your smartphone and your computer work, and you know your fitness tracker works, so it’s reasonable to expect the three to cooperate seamlessly to track and analyze your health habits. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work this well, and it’s important that we remember practical IoT uses are still in their infancy. A bug in Google’s Nest thermostat (a popular IoT device for home environment regulation) highlighted the technology’s fragility not long ago when a software update caused the total malfunction of many systems. In this instance the problem was relatively minor, but it revealed that connectivity can help spread a problem as rapidly as a solution.
2. Security Is A Concern
Malfunction is one problem that will concern consumers, but there are also potential security issues connected to the IoT that could stunt its growth when it comes to personal use. Specifically with regard to smart home-related IoT devices, it’s been revealed that there are easy ways to access feeds from vulnerable cameras. That means exactly what it sounds like: that people can go online and sometimes with just a few clicks begin accessing security cameras and webcams in IoT-connected homes. Particularly given that much of the focus of the IoT in homes is dedicated to security, this is a truly unfortunate issue. It’s also one that will likely scare customers off until it’s thoroughly addressed. This is likely to be a major talking point in IoT discussions this year.
3. Places Of Business Will Change Most
Because we’re eager to see the IoT in action, many of us think first about personal use such as home tech, personal health trackers, etc. But the truth is that at least in 2016 large places of business and offices may actually change the most. In particular, it’s been suggested that fleet management for company shipping divisions can be drastically altered by the IoT, with features like GPS, vehicle diagnostic trackers, etc. allowing companies to manage fleets with more efficiency. However, there are also changes that company employees will see in office spaces, such as Bluetooth beacons and connected office spaces that optimize moment-to-moment task management.
4. Wearable Health Tech Will Take On New Meanings
When we hear about the IoT with regard to personal health and the medical industry, a few things come to mind. We think of fitness trackers and blood pressure monitors, smart tablets connected to hospital networks for purposes of patient information sharing, etc. But heading into 2016, there’s growing buzz about the idea of putting sensors inside the human body. This represents a far more ambitious application of the IoT for health purposes. While it seems like something out of the semi-distant future, we’re already seeing a little bit of it. Orthopedic implants are being equipped with sensor devices, and it’s believed that pacemakers and drug delivery methods will be similarly outfitted in the months and years ahead.
To some extent, the IoT is shaping itself as it goes. The whole thing is a massive concept that was developed before practical applications were really thought up, so we’re seeing it applied in a fairly random, unpredictable manner as such applications are concocted. But at least in 2016, all of the above seems likely.