October 28, 2014


IoT - Building a Smarter World

What is IoT? It’s not an easy question to answer. In fact, there’s quite a bit of confusion concerning what it actually is. If we look to history, it started with a set of devices and sensors connected to each other. Then, these devices were connected to the internet. This allowed the devices to be accessed remotely. Then came a phase when each device started to talk with the other bringing about machine-to-machine communication.

IoT is not only about connecting two devices but creating a whole platform that can offer services and functionalities. As more and more devices are being connected, security is emerging as a major concern for the consumer. It also heralds the need for power management of these devices. Market segments like retail and healthcare are becoming hot areas for IoT.

IoT has sparked a lot of interest with both startups and established companies, looking to get their share of the IoT pie. But there are challenges to contend with - technological and   business.  Regulatory and go-to-market business challenges are majorly affecting IoT.

IoT is in its infancy. It has far to go to become mature. The rules and regulations governing IoT are still being worked upon. There is not much in what we term as regulatory norms, in business. Some of the regulatory norms also depend on specific regions.

Various market segments are driven by rules and regulations, and with no norms finalized for IoT, the development and growth in those market segments will be affected. There is need to speed up the decision making process concerning the standards and regulations involved in IoT.

IoT is clearly not in vogue, yet. There are many implications regarding its usage and application.  According to International Data Corp. forecasts, the IoT market will reach $7.1 trillion by 2020, up from only $1.9 trillion in 2013. This is indeed a goldmine of new ideas and new markets for application developers.

Application developers can focus on these IoT application areas:

Control and manage smart homes

Smart products such as lights and TVs are individually controlled by various mobile apps. More and more products at home are being added to the list of smart products, which need to be managed more efficiently by the various apps for these products. This heralds the need to develop apps that control, and even automate various interfaces at home through a single interface.

Home owners will want to lock/unlock doors using smart locks; turn on the television on entering the living room, and much more, for their convenience. All these activities can be controlled through a single app, making it extremely convenient for the user.

An integrated app for all smart products is a critical need, but it will come with its own interoperability issues that will force device manufacturers to maintain the standards.

Fragment data to make it more meaningful

The major advantage of IoT is that one can now access offbeat sources for data. For example: combining pedestrian traffic data with weather data. This provides an opportunity to crunch data so that it becomes more useful to decision makers, and in turn for their businesses.

Data by itself is of no use unless it can be analyzed and interpreted to provide meaningful reports that help in making the right decisions. An application that can do this will be in great demand.

Most business people are not technically savvy. Hence, developers need to transform the data into something that businesses would be able to apprehend. With data coming from various sources, there will be a huge data flow and there will be a need to interpret it meaningfully.

There will be a need for custom development. For example: in a food store, data on the weather conditions could  be utilized to correlate with the history of pedestrian traffic under such weather conditions, which could further help store owners determine the  right store inventory levels.

Manage public infrastructures

IoT has led to the way for Smart cities. A system for detecting empty parking spaces across a city could prove quite useful. Using a mobile app, a driver can view the nearest available parking slot. This reduces time and a lot of frustration associated with finding parking space in a busy city.

Devices can also be placed in cars with a built-in accelerometer and sensor to detect the potholes on the roads. Such information can then be captured by city authorities who could use it in innovative applications that allow for changing speed limits depending on road conditions.

Step up security

The biggest challenge in IoT is security. With an outburst in the number of devices being connected to the internet, security is becoming a critical issue.

Security usually takes a backseat when it comes to performance and cost. Manufacturers put more emphasis on device performance and cost rather than on security.

This is good news for the application developer who has a bunch of opportunities here. Making device communication more secure is one of the major areas to work on and offers a whole gamut of experimentation and invention.

IoT is at a very interesting threshold.  With time, knowledge and the regulations in place, we can iron out the kinks, and create a smarter world.


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