Introducing a new concept–mandated IoT devices!

I write constantly around the edges of what is next. I can honestly say in the more than 10 years I’ve been doing this I’ve been right about as often as I have been wrong. Sometimes I spot trends long before they are ready to pop. Sometimes I end up buying them long after the mass market has absorbed them.

It has as much to do with my bias as with anything else. I grew up in the dawn of computing, the dawn of the information age. As we have pushed more and more materials beyond the borders of where we are now to new and existing places, I’ve been there watching. Sometimes I wonder why things happen the way they do. I peek under the covers and realize that in the end what we are thinking about is actually something different, we just aren’t ready to go there yet.

Currently I keep running into a problem that I know technology can help but cannot solve. Traffic in the Washington DC area is bad. It’s bad because of the river. No I am not saying the Potomac River gets into 300000 cars and drives around the city. The river is a choke point because of the number of bridges. Each choke point causing more and more traffic. The rule of thumb is don’t cross a bridge if you want a reasonable commute. Technology could fix that in a number of ways. The first is to study the ebb and flow and traffic and begin reducing the choke points. Sadly that has been done, but the “other bridge” project is expensive and in the end sits idle and unfunded.

Technology is changing the world rapidly now. One of the things that I think is making the transition faster is the post information age IoT world. IoT offers so many new avenues of technology use that it becomes very interesting. When something is as easy to use as a faucet you have something. Or for that matter a light switch. We don’t stand at the light switch and ponder the essence and delivery of electricity to our house from whatever modality we are using. We just flip the switch. We simply turn the faucet on and use the water. If the faucet doesn’t work you call a professional otherwise you simply use the tool. Easy and you don’t think about it or how it got there.

IoT is heading in that direction for some of its portfolio. Simple. Easy. Set and forget to coin the old phrase about VCR clocks. In fact some IoT devices are there now. They represent the sensors that are already in your house. From smoke alarms to security systems the various IoT devices now in your house are for the most part set and forget devices.

That list of IoT simple is going to grow. In fact I suspect in 10 years the list of simple devices will outnumber the complex devices 3 and 4 to 1. Certainly there will be complex systems used for a myriad of functions but simple will be the mass market devices. Simple devices are always easier to use without a legal mandate. For example if you think about it for the most part a car phone is pretty complex. It is hard to build and normally you have to have it wired into the car. There was a legal mandate in many states (no hand held cellular devices) resulting in an explosion of hands-free phone kits. The same will be true for some parts of IoT. I think personally smart insurance companies are going to equip insured drivers with rear and front collision cameras. Always keeping the last 2 to 3 minutes of video so that in the case of he said/she said the end game is “let’s go to the tape.”

What else will become more of the Mandated IoT? That is a very interesting question. Personally I believe the remotely enabled kill switch in cellular phones is a good next thing. You call and the carrier kills that cellular device. Not just shuts it off the network and bans the IMEI forever, but also wipes the device so that it was effectively rendered useless. What is the value of stealing a phone if within 20 minutes you can’t even use the data on the phone or the phone? Medical devices in homes that are able to ascertain the status of pills and take readings on the patient so that they don’t have to worry about the pills anymore. They are simply reminded when it is time and the right amount is dispensed for them. I think the market for mandated IoT devices will be huge eventually. We just need some of the mandates to happen!

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.