How Will the Internet of Things Change My Life?
In opinion / By Ellen Bowers / 25 January 2017
There’s been a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT) within the past few years, IoT simply refers to the plethora of devices (or things) that are currently connected to the internet. The Internet of Things is enormous, with connected devices already outnumbering the planet’s population by 1.5 to 1, and it’s only going to get bigger. It’s predicted that by the time that 2020 rolls around there will be 13 billion home appliances, 3.5 billion car devices, 411 wearable devices, 646 million medical devices, 9.7 million street based devices all connected to the internet, collecting and analysing data about our day-to-day habits and needs.
The Internet of Things was particularly prominent in 2016, due to the rise of wearables and smart devices such as internet connected fridges and fitness trackers. Wearable technology has proved to be an incredibly popular source of tech with shipments of healthcare and fitness wearables reaching 57.25m units worldwide. However, the IoT technologies can change the world in much bigger ways than just counting how many steps you’ve done in a day and keeping track of what is in your fridge. Here are some ways that I predict the Internet of Things will change things for you.
With a huge drive by all the giant tech companies on IoT services and products plus the increase of start-ups emerging that focus on this, there is suddenly an increase of jobs within this field. Think of the million devices currently connected to the internet, all the devices collect information and someone needs to process and analyse this data, companies are currently starting to cotton on to this need for IoT expertise to asses and respond to this data. Entire teams are being created within tech companies to help understand this data and how to produce services and products in response to the Internet of Things. Currently it is estimated that there are less than 500 thousand developers around the world currently contributing to the IoT, however, as the number of devices increases, it is predicted that this number will grow to a whopping 4.5 million people working within the Internet of Things industry.
The growth jobs created will be so vast that the IT industry is expected to grow by 50 percent before 2020, many of these jobs will be in roles that had previously never existed so get brushing up on your IT skills!
Healthcare will be another booming industry because of the Internet of Things, predicted to be worth $117 million by 2020. With an aging population and a rise of chronic diseases has put tremendous strain on our healthcare providers so it IoT the answer? The Internet of Things allows those with long term illnesses to self-monitor is an accurate and effective way, without the need of a healthcare professional. This would reduce the pressure on healthcare providers while still being able to maintain a standard of care. Healthcare devices can also offer the elderly and vulnerable a sense of independence, with reminders to take medication, go for a walk and monitoring environmental factors, the IoT can empower those who need it most. Healthcare related devices can also be the key in detecting health problems early on, with weight, blood pressure, and ECG all being monitored to catch health issues are soon as they appear.
With an increasing number of people moving to live in cities, almost two-thirds of us by 2050, cities are plagued by traffic, smog and crime and once again it looks like the IoT will come to the rescue. This is where you really will see the emergence of the Internet of Things within your day-to-day life. The introduction of traffic lights with video sensors allowing them to independently switch their lights to green, amber or red dependant on where the traffic is at that time of day. Smart traffic lights result in a double win combatting congestion and smog in one swoop. In Barcelona sensors, have already began to be embedded into parking spaces to relay real-time information. Parking drones are also being introduced to help guide drivers to the ever-allusive free spaces. While this may seem unnecessary to most – it’s not – up to 30% of congestion is a result of drivers who are unable to locate a free parking space - does this mean the end of road rage?
The Internet of Things also plans to tackle the cleanliness of our streets with the introduction of solar powered garbage cans, aptly names Big Bellies, that crush waste and send a notification to a dispatcher requesting a pickup. Due to the implementation of these in Philadelphia, they have reduced the number of collecting shifts from seventeen to just three saving 1 million a year on fuel, maintenance, and labour.
If we can somehow overcome the cybersecurity challenges presented to us by the Internet Of Things (people started hacking them), it is clear that IoT will have a huge impact on our lives and lifestyles, improving healthcare and our environments in hugely positive ways, generating an enormous amount of employment in the process.