'Internet of Things to be as ubiquitous as electricity by 2025'

Prediction and innovation praised as best methods of preparing for changing future
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A report has predicted that the Internet of Things will become as commonplace as electricity in day-to-day life by 2025.

The ‘Digital Life in 2025’ report, conducted by Pew Research Center to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web, gathered the opinions of experts across the tech industry about the biggest changes to take place in the next 10 years.

The biggest change that the majority of those questioned agreed on was that the internet would become “less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives for good and ill”, with the tying together of the internet in mobile, wearable and embedded computing manifested as the Internet of Things.

“Accessing the internet will be effortless and most people will tap into it so easily it will flow through their lives like electricity,” the report stated.

The Internet of Things has previously been forecasted to be worth £17 billion in the UK during 2014, with 50 billion devices connected by 2020.

Tech giant Intel has also highlighted the sector as a prospective target for firms, calling IoT "a massive opportunity for retailers".

David Clark, a senior research scientist at MIT’s computer science and artificial intelligence laboratory, commented that “devices will more and more have their own patterns of communication, their own ‘social networks,’ which they use to share and aggregate information, and undertake automatic control and activation”.

“More and more, humans will be in a world in which decisions are being made by an active set of cooperating devices”, he added. “The internet (and computer-mediated communication in general) will become more pervasive but less explicit and visible. It will, to some extent, blend into the background of all we do.”

The experts also agreed that augmented reality experiences delivered though portable, wearable or implantable technologies would become yet more widespread, as would disruption of business models established in the 20th century – highlighting the finance, entertainment, education and publishing industries as those set to be most affected.

Daren C. Brabham, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, said: “We will grow accustomed to seeing the world through multiple data layers. This will change a lot of social practices, such as dating, job interviewing and professional networking, and gaming, as well as policing and espionage.”

The report also asked experts for their advice on how to pre-empt the changes in technology, with most praising the application of foresight and predictions.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it,” advised Robert Cannon, a specialist in internet law and policy. “It is a very good time to start inventing the future.”

For more information on the Internet of Things, see PCR's guide to home automation here.

Image of connected world courtesy of Shutterstock.co.uk

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