IoT Affordability Leads to Mass Application
As advanced as things may presently seem, changes are fast and constant where technology is concerned. The staggering advancements of today become passé in short order as new discoveries and applications of acquired knowledge propel us toward the inevitable future and the certainty of technological evolution.
While estimates vary, current forecasts predict an earth inundated with billions of interconnected devices in the IoT in just three year’s time.
“As we approach that point, $6 billion will flow into IoT solutions, including application development, device hardware, system integration, data storage, security, and connectivity. But that will be money well spent, as those investments will generate $13 trillion by 2025.”7 Businesses, governments, and consumers will feel the benefit of these investments the most.
Almost every company in existence can benefit from the IoT in some way. GPS-enabling allows vehicles, products, and even personnel within an organization to be located and interconnected. The potential applications are myriad. Transportation companies can not only track the location of their fleets, they can, for example, control the temperature of refrigerated units remotely. Delivery companies can easily pinpoint the location of anticipated items, easing consumer concerns about arrival times. “Sensors can also measuring items, such as driving behavior and speed, to reduce fuel expense and wear and tear on consumables.”8
The IoT will revolutionize hospital procedures, allowing healthcare personnel to locate needed equipment in a moment’s notice, find staff members easily, and monitor the condition of equipment continuously. Again, remote operation of equipment allows doctors, nurses, surgeons and other health professionals to treat and monitor patients off-site, leading to improved access to the best possible care.
Consumers will exploit the IoT in countless useful ways, leading to a not so distant day when entire households are interconnected and inter-operative. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, scheduling, lighting … it’s difficult to imagine scenarios where the IoT would not be involved. And when a device, implement, or vehicle is in need or service, in-home smartmeters will notify the owner and even schedule maintenance.
The IoT is the Future
Not long ago, actualizing a concept like the IoT was just plain too expensive. Today, telecommunications have become more far-reaching and efficient, and the internet is available and accessible practically everywhere. Most importantly, it is now far less expensive than it once was to manufacture sensors with onboard wi-fi. Thusly, connecting all the world’s devices is also cheaper.
Look back not so long ago and who could have foreseen the exploding popularity of smartphone technology? “Smart phone usage has surpassed all the predicted limits and telecommunication sector is already working on its toes to keep their customers satisfied by improving their infrastructure. As IoT devices need no separate communication than the existing one building IoT tech is very cheap and highly achievable.”9
The Downside of the IoT
For all of the wonderful potential of the IoT, there are concerns about its broader implications of a few important fronts. One of these is employment. It’s not hard to imagine why lots of jobs will be lost when sensors and machines and devices can do the work once done by trained professionals.
“A report published last week by consulting firm Zinnov claims that IoT will impact a staggering 120,000 jobs in India by 2021, although up to 94,000 redundancies could be made.
Meanwhile, only 25,000 jobs will be created within the next few years. The main cause of this will be increased automation, whereby humans are replaced by technologies capable of handling the same job.”10
As with India, similar job-loss fears exist in the US and elsewhere globally. In the words of a thousand science fiction movies, “Resistance is futile.” So what can be done? It’s the big question facing society as a whole. Old reliable jobs are not coming back. Training for the oft-mentioned jobs of the future is non-existent or lagging. The IoT promises to exacerbate problems already initiated by rampant automation. It will be up to mankind-at-large to reinvent, adapt, and push forward into this uncertain future. There is no turning back.
On the upside, companies will need IoT experts to aid them in incorporating emerging technology and in maximizing their investments. They will also require data analysts in order to best exploit all the new information available to them. These will be highly skilled positions which will require a trained and ready workforce.
Job Losses, Lack of Privacy, Addiction to Technology
With the prevalence of hackers today, whose skill level always seems to run parallel with the advancement of technology, we can expect the IoT to be prime territory for illegal hacking activity, even potential terrorism. After all, information is money, and if government computers can be so easily hacked, it stands to reason that our own computers are easy targets for would be data thieves.