IF YOU’VE BEEN reading the features in PCR recentlythen you will be acutely aware of what the Internet of Things is and where it’s come from, but you might be wondering where it’s all headed in the immediate – and long-term – future.
“It is commonly stated that we overestimate the impact of technological change in the short term and underestimate it in the long term,” says Steve Moore, director of Connected Home at Dixons Carphone. That is to say, the IoT will see more growth over the long haul, with only minor changes to the state of play right away.
“In 2017 we will see increasing emphasis on If This Then That (IFTTT) technology/ compatibility,” says Gekko business development director Rupert Cook. “Put very simply, it means that smart devices can ‘talk’ to other smart devices to trigger a particular response or action.”
This might seem like only a minor alteration of the tech, but what will emerge are systems that are far more sophisticated, complex and – most importantly – human in how we interact with them. “A simple example would be a smart doorbell that when used, activates a smart outdoor light,” continues Cook. “Additionally, the doorbell could use facial recognition technology to verify the caller and if appropriate, activate the smart lock, opening the door and admitting the visitor.”
Having all these fancy devices and functions is one thing, but the main focus in order to see IoT products or connected devices have any continued viability is what Dynamode’s Nick Beer describes as ‘seamless integration’.
Indeed, some of the big barriers at this current moment in time to people getting invested in an IoT ecosystem are down to accessibility, or a lack of it to be precise. “Some customers still have worries about the complexity of setting these products up,” says Moore.
Context’s UK and Ireland country manager Jonathan Wagstaff shares a similar concern: “For many consumers, setting up the devices is still a big barrier.”
On top of the concern about getting people in the door is calming any fears that their purchase will be made redundant by new technology. And this is more important than pretty much any other tech that a consumer will purchase. You might have an old iPod dock that is a bit useless these days now that your phone has a sleek lightning port, but it’s an entirely different equation when your whole house is built around it. If you have a CCTV system intricately wired up around your home that somehow finds itself becoming useless then that will likely have a knock-on effect on any associated products. Or if you decide that you don’t like that smart thermostat it’s not as easy to replace as, say, a smartphone.
However, this is an area that many companies are already aware of and are looking to rectify. “We expect to see the expansion of the ‘Digital Plumber’ offering in 2017 and for the market to continue its steady growth,” says Wagstaff.
With platforms like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant growing in sophistication, functionality and adoption, and likely becoming something of a ‘gateway’ into the IoT space, more and more people will be warmed into the world of connected devices.
“In 10 years time, IoT devices will be as widespread and accepted as today’s smartphones,” says BullGuard CEO Paul Lipman. And that’s the thrust of it; in order for the Internet of Things to become the ‘Internet of Everything’ as Michael Dell called it at the 2016 EMC World the concept will have to be made easy to get into in terms of cost and accessibility, clearly explained by vendors and accepted by the masses.