Gartner predicted 8.4 billion connected “things” across industries and verticals back at the beginning of 2017. Today, Statista more than doubles that number and registers as many as 20 billion IoT devices around the world. These numbers only confirm that the Internet of Things (IoT) remains one of the biggest game-changers and trends in 2018.
In 2017, there was some significant news associated with IoT. Hundreds of startups that make IoT revolution possible receive billions of dollars in funding. Governments and world organizations adopt disruptive IoT innovations in the context of Industry 4.0. Leading IoT software platform providers strengthen their standing and introduce fundamentally new solutions and strategies to integrate IoT across industries and markets.
In 2018 we see the expansion of IoT. It’s scaling to tackle major issues in numerous fields.
Here are the key trends observed in 2018.
1: Massive Adoption of IoT Platforms
According to The Forrester Wave, business infrastructure and operations professionals are quickly realizing the opportunities IoT makes possible. The research confirms that 60 percent of decision-makers already use or planning to use IoT-enabled applications over the next two years, from building connected products to transforming operational processes.
However, the adoption of IoT at the dawn of the regulation and standardization of emerging technology and protocols is complicated. Often it seems as though we’re going in blind. According to The Forester Wave, today’s decision-makers have to deal with “fragmented sets of hardware, protocols, software, applications, and analytics solutions.” These issues persistently slow down IoT adoption.
At the same time, strong IoT software platforms by IBM, Amazon, Cisco, GE, and other giants offer multitier solutions that simplify the design, creation, integration, and management of IoT infrastructure and enterprise data. These multifunctional solutions address the remaining issues and help companies and governments build, secure, connect and manage IoT-enabled technology at large scale.
Moreover, competition between platforms motivates continuous improvement and innovation. Today, AWS IoT launches the technology to run trained machine learning models on edge devices. IBM Watson IoT platform offers strong cognitive capabilities. While Microsoft Azure IoT Suite issues new developer-friendly features for device management that makes integrating connected devices to enterprise infrastructure much simpler.
So far in 2018, we’ve seen the development of IoT software platforms and a wide-scale adoption of packaged applications for hardware operation management, security, predictive maintenance, and asset tracking.
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IoT Synergy with AR, AI, and ML
No technology develops in a vacuum—IoT least of all. A wide array of IoT applications integrate machine learning capabilities, image recognition, augmented reality, and blockchain, and they also support other technology ecosystems.
These projects are numerous. IOTA (a blockchain startup) partnered with the major IoT players and promises to secure invisible micropayment transactions handled autonomously between smart devices. The Zappar AR platform cooperates with everything to fold interactivity into an everyday application of smart devices while adding value to both business and consumers.
The whole concept of predictive maintenance—one of the most promising applications of IoT in manufacturing markets—is built on the integration of machine learning into IoT infrastructure. With the help of machine learning algorithms, silos of both real-time and legacy data turn into insights and predictive models that empower operators to foresee the wear of machinery, automate maintenance, prevent malfunction, and obviously, cut costs.
This year, we see more collaboration between single-focus projects and in-platform expansion both vertical and technology-wise. Technology augmentation originates in acquisitions, as in the case of PTC IoT platform ThingWorx and AR SDK Vuforia, or in-house development, as in the case of the joint efforts of IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding service, Watson Machine Learning and IBM IoT Watson platform.
Data is an important product of IoT-enabled systems and services. However, only well-prepared, cleansed, formatted and indexed data turns into valuable insights. And according to data scientists, 80 percent of the work involved in gaining analytical insights from heterogeneous data is a tedious work. As a result, not every company that introduces the IoT technology into its operations and processes will get the best of its data.
In this context, we expect to see new varied approaches to data intelligence, data application, and monetization.
Last year, IOTA came up with the initiative to create a data marketplace within which any connected device or sensor could securely purchase valuable data for a small fee to accelerate its operations.
This data economy would provide billions of IoT-powered enterprises with easy access to cost-efficient well-prepared data. In other words, it would allow companies and governments to overcome the need to work out every bit of the data they need, get richer insights, see the fuller picture, and monetize the data they own.
The data “revolution” has only accelerated through 2018. In fact, Cisco, Orange, Daimler, Accenture, Deutsche Telekom, EWE, Tine, PwC, Schneider Electric, DNV GL, and others are only ramping up their data-focused practices. According to IOTA cofounder David Sønstebø, “[data] will act as a catalyst for a whole new paradigm of research, artificial intelligence, and democratization of data.”
Facing IoT Security Challenges
Security remains the biggest issue across the entire IoT ecosystem. Research from Mobile Ecosystem Forum states, “60 percent of global consumers are worried about a breach on their connected devices and 62 percent found privacy a principal IoT concern.” According to Evans Data, 92 percent of IoT developers believe security will continue to be an issue in the future.
Security issues exist at multiple levels of IoT systems. Enterprise data transfer and personal data sharing are both major concerns. Other problem areas include payment transaction safety and hardware layer security.
Today, biometric identification for personal mobile devices is already ubiquitous. We can expect connected devices to embrace the benefits of advanced authentication. For example, Amazon Alexa is supposed to learn how to recognize up to 10 voices in 2018. Using this feature, virtual assistants enable exclusive access to connected devices and IoT services.
In the context of frictionless payments within the IoT ecosystem—product reordering, automated service payment—blockchain and Tangle-based technology will remain in the center of the secure transaction concept. In 2018, we’re also seeing another development sprint in this field as the volume of automated payment transactions grows.
Another problem the producers of customer-oriented IoT tools and services are still to figure out is how to get rid of customer fear and privacy concerns. For example, LockState tackles this problem by referring to the familiar to people “bank-level encryption” term describing their authentication technology. It assures consumers IoT-enabled locks are more secure than traditional key-based locks.
This simple lock security trick works with one device. However, IoT designers and engineers are still to solve the same security issues at scale for smart homes, automated factories, and smart cities.
And yet the security of data collected throughout the IoT ecosystems is perhaps the main challenge facing IoT in 2018. On the one hand, the relevant application of this data can make a difference and help to solve global ecological, political, economic, and healthcare problems. On the other hand, manipulation of the data may jeopardize the security of industries, economies, and even entire nations.
General Electric, one of the leading IoT market players, believes that by 2030, IoT will add $10 to $15 trillion to worldwide GDP growth. This massive market of markets is expected to double in size year over year, transforming entire industries, optimizing business operations, and reimagining consumer journeys as we know them today. Following the waves of IoT development and observing key IoT trends in 2018 is a sure way to keep pace with this transformation and take an active part in building the future.
This post was originally published by Digiteum.