Nov 13, 2020

9 min read

What Is The Future of IoT?

The Internet of Things has dramatically changed the way we connect with each other, our devices and our surroundings. It has irrevocably altered the world of business, leaving a trail of disruption in it’s wake, across practically every sector, be it healthcare, aviation, manufacturing or retail. As we near the end of 2020, we can safely surmise that IoT has been to tech in this decade, what the internet was to the 90s. In this post, we’re looking at how IoT is going to look like in the near future - Keep reading to find out more about how IoT is poised to change in the time to come.

In the late 80s and the early 90s, not many knew what the internet was or did. Few understood what the massive hype was about. And to be fair, the internet is not an easy concept to explain to pre-internet-era folks. 

Think about it - if you were to explain the internet to someone from the past, how would you go about it? You might take the theoretical route and explain to them how it’s a network of computers from across the globe, that are connected to each other. You’d be right but you probably wouldn’t do a very good job of conveying the enormous impact that the internet has had on life today. 

Alternatively, you might go the route of using real-life possibilities and use-cases that the internet enables - you might tell the person what email was or how youtube worked. This might help you present a better idea of how an internet-enabled life looks like, in actuality. However, unless the person you’re talking to is a genius, their idea of the internet would still be limited to the examples you listed out and maybe those uses that are logical extensions of the ones you mentioned. 

It’s not very different today with the Internet of Things - throughout this decade, there has been a whole lot of hype and excitement about the internet of things. For all the praises sung about how revolutionary it is and how much of a paradigm-altering gamechanger it’s going to be for the tech world, there are still a lot of people who don’t immediately get a feel for the massive scope of the term, IoT. 

In our what is the internet of things? , we tried our best to convey the sheer magnitude and enormity of the Internet of Things and in subsequent posts, have managed to capture some interesting practical use-cases of IoT technology. The parallels between the web in the 90s and IoT today, are unmistakable. 

But we are nearing the end of 2020 and IoT is no longer the infant technology that it was even just a few years ago. Today, IoT technologies have matured and have made themselves indispensable to the way we do business and organise our lives. Recent reports have estimated that there will be a staggering 35 billion IoT devices deployed globally by 2021 and this number is slated to reach an even more jaw dropping 75.44 billion by 2025. 

But, where is IoT headed? How’s it going to look in the near future? Here’s ONiO’s two cents on the developments and innovations that are changing the face of IoT and ushering it into the future.

Increased focus on security

Today, the world around us is getting increasingly populated by smart devices that are connected to the internet - As of 2020, the number stands well over the 26 billion mark! There’s no doubt that these smart IoT devices add to our lives massively in terms of convenience and connectivity - however, there are widespread concerns about privacy and security. 

Because of the widespread and diverse nature of IoT devices, they could potentially be vulnerable to attacks and data breaches. The IoT industry is gearing up to the challenge - security is being named as the topmost priority by the leading IoT solution providers of the world and this is a win-win situation - better security is good for both the end consumer, who benefits from better privacy, as well as the providers, who benefit from higher sellability and higher consumer trust. 

We are going to see more of embedded and end-to-end security solutions and an increase in investment on IoT device visibility. Furthermore, AI, blockchain and edge computing solutions will start to feature much more prominently in security solutions for IoT systems. 

IoT in Healthcare to see dramatic surge

2020 will forever be remembered as the year of the dreaded coronavirus pandemic. As the world slowly gets back up on its feet, healthcare focused IoT solutions will come to the fore in a massive way. Experts have been predicting an IoT revolution in the healthcare industry for many years now, but there has been a lot of resistance to change from within. The healthcare industry has always been a slow adopter when it comes to IoT but that’s all going to change now - In fact, it’s already changing!

In 2019, the global healthcare IoT market was estimated to be worth $57.6 Billion, with this number slated to breach the $350 Billion mark in the next seven years! Leaving market predictions aside for a second, it’s fairly obvious that IoMT devices and healthcare-based IoT systems are going to play a much more prominent role in a post-covid world. 

An unprecedented number of primary care practitioners are relying on teleconsultations and other non-contact modalities for non-emergency patient care- By the end of this year, there will have been over 1 billion virtual healthcare visits! This pandemic and its aftermath is only likely to add fuel to the process of modernising healthcare and injecting it with a long overdue dose of disruptive transformation - we’re going to see more remote monitoring solutions and a sharp rise in the use of IoT-based smart wearables, health trackers and sensors. 

Moreover, IoT will be used by hospitals to cut down on unwarranted contact, wherever possible. With public awareness about infection risk at an all time high and investment in IoT-based healthcare soaring, the next few years are likely going to be the golden age for IoT in healthcare. 

We’re going to see IoT technology be embraced by the healthcare industry on various levels - IoT health wearables and trackers are already huge and are only going to get bigger as time goes; Moreover, we’re likely to see IoT being used to improve patient care, cut down costs on an institutional level and digitise manpower intensive administrative processes. IoT solutions that empower “at-home” healthcare for elderly patients are also showing strong growth - a trend that is going to rise even more sharply. 


More IoT-based work from home solutions

This one’s got to be a no brainer. Globally, we’re starting to see just the beginning of the work-from-home era. Even before the pandemic, there was a growing voice, especially among millennials, that dismissed the validity of the conventional 9 to 5 until retirement age sort of a life scheme. For many years already, young people have been on the lookout for career options that allowed them to find space for their passions and interests outside work, with minimal time and space constraints. 

In a post-covid world, this is exactly what we’re going to see and how - the pandemic has mercilessly demonstrated the outdatedness of many of our cherished cultural institutions - universities and schools spring to mind, among others. IoT and AI solutions that enable efficient organisation and stay-at-home productivity will be huge in the months and years to come - We’re no strangers to this - AI powered assistants like Alexa already form an integral part of many of our worklives. 

In industries like logistics, manufacturing and transport, which have traditionally relied on physical presence, IoT solutions will cut down dependence on manpower. Surveillance and monitoring won’t be as dependent on manpower and IoT solutions will allow for systems that call for specialist intervention only when it’s absolutely necessary. 

On the Edge

The rise of edge computing is another IoT trend that isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. We’ll speak about the ins and outs of edge computing in a dedicated post, on a later date. But for now, all we need to know is that edge computing is a paradigm that decentralises data processing and storage, bringing them closer to where they are needed. This allows for massive savings on bandwidth and also helps cut down on response times. 

Edge computing comes with a whole array of benefits - it promises to be more economical, more eco-friendly while also enabling higher standards and privacy and data security. IoT devices typically don’t come with a lot of data storage and edge computing helps hugely in this regard. Moreover, cloud computing has its fair share of shortcomings, such as latency and bandwidth issues, which edge computing can solve. 

Edge computing is highly relevant in large-scale public health undertakings such as contact tracing and outbreak tracking, which deal with large amounts of extremely sensitive data. Edge computing can reduce the huge risk posed by multi-directional transfer of this data and can therefore help bolster user-trust, which is indispensable for these city-wide or nation-wide programs to work. 

Smart cities on the rise

Smart city technologies are a huge rage at the moment, with interest and investment in smart city technology slated to skyrocket in the near future. 

Local authorities and city councils see smart city solutions as a powerful way to involve the public in the nitty-gritty of city administration and upkeep. Increasing citizen comfort and convenience is just a small part of the deal - what we’re seeing with smart city projects around the world is a strong emphasis on interactiveness - there is a growing acceptance that involving citizens in a more hands-on fashion, in all matters pertaining to the day to day maintenance of an urban space, pays huge dividends for everyone concerned. 

With cities looking at huge population increases in the times to come, IoT-based smart city solutions will prove to be an indispensable ingredient in making urban environments safe, livable, and ecologically sustainable. 

More than meets the eye

IoT technology is not what it was a few years ago and most certainly isn’t going to be what it is today, in a few years time. In this post, we just wanted to highlight some of the biggest developments that we’re likely to see in the near future, from a consumer point of view. 

About the author

Abishek Swaminathen

Senior Content Manager

Abishek is ONiO’s senior content manager. A medical doctor by profession, he stumbled onto a writing career almost by accident, as it were. Words have enthralled Abishek since the day he first held a book and at ONiO, he channels his inner wordsmith towards providing our subscribers with regular doses of fun and informative content.

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