Cloud-driven, multi-platform apps. Location-based apps. Big Data. Today’s significant trends mean even bigger opportunities for developers who take aim at wearables and Internet of Things (IoT). The escalating impact of IoT is growing fast, which, for developers and businesses, means that now is the perfect time to capitalize on the limitless opportunities available.
Tech as an Experience
Today’s users demand fluidity. They want to map a route, take a seat in their vehicle, and be guided to their destination without engaging in a series of additional steps to make that happen. They want fitness wearables that sync seamlessly with their laptops and phones. They want to move from one platform to another without disruption. Developers and manufacturers still sometimes struggle to provide the experiences that users can envision, and they’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. In that gap lies opportunity.
But there’s much more to IoT than a focus on single-user applications, so industry leaders need to think bigger. To fully appreciate IoT, you have to consider the cumulative intelligence you can collect from the enormous number of devices transmitting information, and the versatility of data collection sensors themselves.
Internet of Things as Infrastructure
IoT offers an unprecedented level of sophistication when it comes to monitoring a wide array of factors in our larger environment, and it’s increasingly being utilized to run aspects of our municipalities.
For example, the town of La Garrotxa in Spain is using a versatile set of smart sensors to monitor environmental conditions. Some of these sensors detect CO2 levels, humidity, and other factors that could help to predict or quickly detect a forest fire. A second set monitors air pollutants. A third actually employs ultrasound and distance measuring technology for early detection of flood conditions.
These sensors run on small solar panels with a back-up battery system, and are easy to pull and replace. All the data accrued is fed into dashboard software for monitoring. In fact, one important distinction between machine to machine (M2M) technology and IoT is the way IoT data integrates with enterprise systems and other Business Intelligence (BI) applications.
IoT has also been used to detect and reduce traffic congestion. One notable method is to use sensors to monitor available parking spaces and transmit this information to local residents in real time. When you consider that up to 30% of traffic congestion in urban centers is created by drivers cruising for parking spaces, the time-saving and environmental benefits are clear.
Internet of Things as a Logistics Leader
The potential of IoT is having an accelerating impact on the way we do business. You’re probably already familiar with concepts like smart energy grids, but consider the potential of using smart sensors on shipping containers. These devices employ advanced mobile communication systems like 3GPP to transmit important details, including warnings when shipping containers with dangerously interactive contents are placed beside each other.
Smart sensors also revolutionize quality control, as they can detect everything from moisture, to temperature, to whether and when a container has been opened. Smart warehouses also lead to more fluid workflows, minimizing the need for workstations by equipping employees with wearables. Amazon and UPS are both experimenting with IoT technologies in their warehouses, and in a recent survey, a whopping 96% of the transportation and logistics companies surveyed cited IoT as the advancement that will propel the next decade of T&L.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a juggernaut. Industrial applications benefit tremendously from the sheer quantity of data that can be produced by smart sensors. Internet of Things can be used to manage large-scale transit systems, preventing train collisions, for example. It can predicatively manage repairs on complex machinery like aircraft, saving downtime caused by an unexpected shutdown. The sheer density of data can also function like imaging software on a global scale, offering unprecedented detail in the detection and management of natural resources.
Wearables and IoT technology are still relatively young, but they’re growing at a tremendous rate. Wearable tech alone hit US$12 billion in sales in 2015— that’s nearly a 225% growth rate. Projected revenue in healthcare by 2020 is US$117 billion.
By 2017, there will be 50 billion connected devices out there. And the term “devices” needs to be used loosely. Connected clothing, RFID tags, even mattress covers that monitor your sleep or detect when you’re leaving your bed are all players in the world of IoT.
In the business world, IoT (sometimes also referred to as Industrial Technology) will be at 96% adoption within the next three years. We’re not just talking large enterprises here; in the age of smartphones, small business owners are equally comfortable with IoT, which means a broader array of development opportunities. And the ROI is pretty spectacular: 94% of businesses will see an ROI from IoT technology, 66% or more reaching that goal within one year. Then there are the potential savings. For example, utilizing IoT within a fleet of vehicles can save about US$1,000 per vehicle per year.
Don’t overlook data, either. With only .06% of the things that could be connected to the internet currently connected, Internet of Things is still projected to produce 400 zettabytes of data by 2018. There’s no telling how many new development vistas this gold mine of information could open up.
Last but not least, the sheer number of possibilities in this new landscape has also opened up tremendous opportunities for developers focused on security. It’s estimated that 75% or so of existing apps and objects are vulnerable to hacking. Third-party security development could be an extremely profitable enterprise.
The scope of possibility when it comes to M2M/IoT technology is almost startling. Exploiting the development potential will be an exciting ride, with incredible scope for profit.