Gartner forecasts that 20.8 billion connected “things” will be in use worldwide by 2020. The Internet of Things (IoT) will forever change how we work, play, dine, learn, communicate, shop and drive (or don’t drive, thanks to autonomous vehicles). Since we can’t blog about all 20.8 billion connected things, here are our top 5 markets for IoT-enabled technology, representing the present and future.
1) Home automation
We’ve long been able to program everyday hardware in our homes, such as thermostats, but now these devices are learning our preferences automatically. Home automation companies like Nest Labs offer self-learning, sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, smoke detectors, cameras and other security systems. Appliances and devices adjust automatically based on your behavior, and you can make adjustments easily from the app.
Want a deeper look at what’s happening in your home when you’re out? Be on the lookout for smart cameras with facial recognition. If the camera detects familiar faces, you receive no alert; however, you’ll get a snapshot of any unfamiliar visitors sent to your phone. (So that’s what your daughter’s new boyfriend looks like.)
2) Autonomous vehicles
The number of vehicles with various levels of autonomy will grow to a total of 76 million sold by 2035, according to IHS Automotive. From simple car maintenance text alerts to 100% driverless vehicles, IoT is forever changing how we get from A to B.
In IoT terms, connected cars need other “things” to catch up and share real-time data to optimize the driving experience—for example, connected roads, traffic lights and parking spaces. Perhaps more enticing for some drivers are other IoT-enabled indulgences; imagine your car sensing your favorite coffee or sandwich shop en route and then placing your order and transacting the payment for you. All you have to do is pick it up and enjoy.
3) Connected factory
While it isn’t as sexy to consumers as the connected home or car, the connected factory is certainly appealing to manufacturers and businesses that want to dramatically improve production and mobilization of products. The connected factory offers just that for manufacturers, using IoT and digital technology to lower costs. Cisco, for example, offers a single, scalable network of industrial switches, routers, wireless products—enabling entire factories to be connected and managed by its software.
Imagine traveling in a magnetically levitating pod from Los Angeles to San Francisco—in an hour. How about a trip from New York to Washington, D.C., that only takes 20 minutes?
Combining IoT, artificial intelligence, cloud, augmented reality/virtual reality and more, proponents of “hyperloop” transportation claim passengers will be able to do just that. With custom electric motors to accelerate and decelerate pods through low-pressure tubes, passengers will purportedly glide silently for miles with no turbulence. There are two main hyperloop companies building test tracks in the U.S. and overseas, and one of them plans to deliver a fully operational system by 2020.
5) Connected (in-person) shopping
If traditional brick-and-mortar retail companies want to survive, they’ll be forced to provide consumers with fully connected, tech-enabled, convenient shopping experiences. IoT will play a critical role in this transformation.
Imagine, as you drive toward your retail destination, your connected car receives alerts from the store’s parking lot. IR sensors identify prime, empty parking spaces and guide you to them. Upon entry to the store, your device is recognized. Personalized coupons are sent to you based on your personal buying history; on-sale items that may appeal to you are also presented. Then, you make your way to the virtual fitting room. Instead of taking the time to physically locate and try on clothes, augmented reality enables you to swipe through clothes, virtually fitted to your body in mirror-like screens. Select only the clothes (and suggested accessories) you want to try on—an attendant will bring them to you. Continue your journey through tomorrow’s retail shopping experience.