I keep reading analysts talking about the top IoT devices that will be and I wonder. First I wonder why they think specific categories of devices will explode. As I watch both the market and the analysts I find myself thinking both are heading in different directions.
My initial thought is that the concept of mesh sensor networks and intelligent sensors are the next big thing. But IoT like the Internet before it is limited now by bandwidth. When bandwidth moved from somewhat available to DSL and Cable modems everywhere the internet took off. IoT requires different upload speeds and right now that is limiting its adoption.
Mesh networks actually help with that. Multiple ways for the sensor array to connect back and provide data. It is a level of fault tolerance that will support the overall network better. The reality is however that we are still limited. I have talked about this (ranted is perhaps better) that the reality of upload speeds continues to throttle IoT. The difference between home and business class Internet is that ability to have upload speeds that are equal to your download speeds (unless you are using Verizon’s FANTASTIC FIOS service in which case that point is moot).
The concept of intelligent sensors will also change the amount of data produced. Gartner and other analyst’s project between 6 and 7 devices connected to the Internet per person. I think based on since the average home may have as many as 2000 sensors in his by 2025 that we are a bit short on the per person number. Intelligent sensors will have three modes. The first is static mode the sensor will connect, one. Two, three or four times a day and report its information. The other will be range sensors that will only report information when their readings fall outside their range. The last type will be broadcast sensors that are always on, and always talking.
Intelligent mesh sensors will utilize the three types of intelligent sensors with the broader meshed network connect. In that scenario the information would be queued based on the nature of the sensors. You would connect a group of static sensors and then only have one of them report. IF there is no confirmation that the report went through another the static sensors will report the information. You would also then mesh a group of range sensors so that they could report variances in the range they have found. Same deal no confirmation of data receipt results in the next range sensor reporting the variance. If the range sensor array is critical you may put two or more broadcast sensors in the array to ensure the data transmission. Volcano eruptions, floods and earthquake sensors would be examples of range arrays that may require a broadcast sensor in the mesh.
The next thing I feel like the great decriers of IoT future miss, is the reality of impact. Personally I think projects like Jibo and Keecker have a broader potential impact tomorrow, then they are being given credit for. The ability to allow older Americans to continue living on their own, but the kids can still check in with friendly reminders. Personally I think the sensor enabled personal presence devices are going to take off in the next 12 months. Simply because we all worry about our parents, dogs, children, cats and significant others when we are not there. With Jibo. Keecker and other personal presence devices we will be able to connect with them in a non-creepy, non-stalker way.
My next “I can’t believe the analysts have missed this one” thing is the IoT of Drones. Interchangeable sensors on your drone. You can easily today check your ENTIRE ROOF without climbing on it. Mine would be hard to check manually because frankly it is very steep. But with a drone I can view the roof, check for post storm damage and verify that everything is the way it should be. Drones equipped with arms can take fishing lines further out than you can simply by casting. Video is the easiest of the drone systems and there are many available today.
Personally I think people miss the IoT boat. IoT is about expanding the reach of human understanding. It’s about helping us enable not just more information, but information about the world in which we are currently well stuck. Telling us the Co2 content of the air around us (more than 1000 ppm is bad FYI). Talking to us about CO levels in the house (really, really need to know that). The tools we use to live our lives will continue to become part of the IoT. Not because the IoT is a the coolest thing since sliced bread but because it is so much better for you to know that the meeting room you always use has a high CO2 level every afternoon. Perhaps it is time to find another room?