2017 is finally gone and while it was a tumultuous year on political and international fronts, it was an exciting year for technology. Of all the technologies that made waves this year, one that garnered a good chunk of limelight was the Internet of Things, or IoT.
Gartner predicts that there will be nearly 20 billion devices connected to the IoT by 2020 and that IoT product and service suppliers will amount to a business of $300 billion in revenue. So here are the top 5 IoT trends that will define the future of IoT in 2018.
1. Smart Home Devices Will Soar In Popularity
Even those who dismissed smart home technology as unrealistic playthings for lazy youngsters are increasingly finding it hard to resist the charms of IoT powered smart home devices. These devices will become hugely popular in 2018 as they become highly intuitive and innovative, extending to not just home automation comfort but also home security and the safety of your family. Dryers that warn you when the lint build up goes too high can prevent a fire. That is the kind of smart home functionality that will see huge adoption in 2018.
Another big driver of the IoT smart home adoption is the need for energy saving. Smart thermostats and smart lighting help conserve energy and keep the bills down, which will be another big reason more and more people turn to IoT powered devices in 2018.
2. Edge Computing Will Take Prominence Over Cloud Computing
This will be one change to watch out for. For a long time now, IoT devices have relied on the cloud for storing their data. However, IoT developers and manufacturers are now beginning to realize the usefulness of storing, computing and analyzing the data on the edge.
According to research firm IDC, edge computing is:
a mesh network of micro data centers that process or store critical data locally and push all received data to a central data center or cloud storage repository, in a footprint of less than 100 square feet.
Basically, this means that instead of sending all the data from the IoT device to the cloud, the data is first transferred to a local device situated closer to the IoT device or on the edge of the network. This local storage device can sort, filter and compute the data and then send all or just a portion of the data to the cloud, reducing the traffic to the network.
Known as “edge computing”, this approach has several advantages. First of all, it helps better manage the vast amount of data each device sends out. Lower dependence on the cloud helps applications perform faster and reduce latency. By being able to gather and process data locally, the IoT application consumes less bandwidth and works even when the connectivity to cloud is affected. Owing to these upsides, edge computing will see innovation and wide adoption in both consumer and industrial IoT. Lesser involvement of the cloud facilitates better security practices and reduces connectivity costs. 2018 will see increased use of edge computing in IoT.
3. Healthcare Will See Increased IoT Adoption
One of the most important applications of IoT is definitely in the field of healthcare, and the coming year will see healthcare truly embrace the prowess of IoT. According to data from Frost and Sullivan, the internet of medical things could be expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.2% and reach $72 billion by 2021. Devices like sensors, wearable devices, medical equipment, health monitors and a gamut of other medical devices is set to be connected with IoT. From healthcare providers to the general population, everyone is more tech-savvy than before and this is set to increase IoT adoption in the medical world for good. Mobile health applications and virtual assistants to monitor patient health at home, smart wearables and implants that communicate patient parameters, smart cars that monitor patient vitals in transit and a host of other smart connected devices are set to reshape the medical world.
4. IoT Security Will Be a Bigger Priority
As adoption increases, more and more devices get connected to the Internet of Things. The network expands, volumes of data increase and more information is at risk. Increased use of IoT must be accompanied by increased impetus of IoT security. With vital data floating about in the cloud, health of patients and safety of homes is at risk and IoT will have to be more secure than ever.
As of now, not all IoT devices come equipped with the kind of security features laptops and PCs are equipped with. In the coming year, that will have to change. Machine-to-machine authentication will get layered, biometric logins will become the norm and AI, machine learning and big data techniques will be used to identify and thwart data breaches.
Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report April 2017 identified weak passwords as the main reason behind IoT malware. Most IoT device manufacturers ship the device with a default password and don’t give the customers an option to change the password. This fuels the highest number of DDoS and other attacks. 2018 will see both manufacturers as well as consumers getting more aware about their IoT security.
5. AI and Big Data
With billions of consumer and industrial devices being connected to IoT and transmitting data, the amount of data than needs to be processed and analyzed will grow exponentially. The idea is not just to gather data but to extract actionable insights from this data and that will need some serious big data techniques and artificial engineering to process all that data.
A convergence of AI, IoT and Big Data will give rise to a wave of next-gen applications and advancements. In fact, it may be difficult to look at either of these in isolation anymore.
Advancements in artificial intelligence in recent years are enabling developers to uncover hidden relationship between data, thereby significantly facilitating data analytics processes using minimal data input and resolving big data performance issues. – Swapnadeep Nayak, Frost & Sullivan.
So those are some of the trends that will dominate the IoT ecosystem in the new year. Both consumer and industrial IoT will see great advancements and a number of connected devices that were but the whims of a few tech savvy people will become commonplace. Of course, new technologies will emerge making IoT more intuitive and user friendly, but largely, manufacturers will have to work harder at securing their connected devices as the risk to data will also increase. Amid all of these trends and predictions, the future ahead is definitely a promising one and certainly worth looking forward to.