The Internet of Things (IoT) is emerging as the third wave in the development of the Internet. The 1990s’ fixed Internet wave connected 1 billion users while the 2000s’ mobile wave connected another 2 billion. The Internet of Things has the potential to connect 10 times as many (28 billion) “things” to the Internet by 2020, ranging from bracelets to cars, blurring the lines between hardware, software, and mobile.
We stand at the dawn of a new age, just as the smartphone revolutionized personal computing by creating a computer that most of us have within arm’s reach 24 hours a day. The Internet of Things promises to revolutionize computing again, by connecting and collecting data from everything we live in, drive in, eat in, sleep in and work in.
IoT devices to date have been pieces of hardware that connect to an app on your smartphone, which allows you to interact with them. The connected watch signals an important shift as it combines the hardware and sensors with the software and user interface into one device. While it still requires a connected phone to connect to the Internet, it is easy to see a future connected watch that eliminates the need for the phone entirely.
As IoT devices evolve, they will take on more “mobile” qualities and become the new home for many functions we currently rely on our smartphones to perform. In addition to making search obsolete, IoT could make the smartphone largely irrelevant in the near future.
In just a year or two, the number of IoT devices will outnumber the number of PCs, smartphones and laptops globally. Forecasts range from as low as 41 billion to as high as 80 billion connected devices worldwide by 2020.
For years people have been claiming that search is dead, but we still find ourselves on Google looking for a restaurant, searching for the best ski equipment or researching a new company. However, the promise of IoT means never having to search again. With every connected device you have, more data is collected about you, your habits, your needs and your preferences. When this data is aggregated, a complete virtual profile of you emerges. This profile will know what you need before you do.
The “virtual you” will be able to anticipate your needs, perform the necessary search, and deliver what you need, before you even have to ask. It will be able to adjust your thermostat before you realize you are too hot, or place an order for tissues before you notice you have run out. Obviously, search still happens, but it is all done behind the scenes. If the Internet of Things becomes what we believe it can be, you’ll never need to visit the Google homepage again.
Are you ready for the Internet of Things? Or are you concerned about the massive violation of privacy that such a Thing implies?