Mobility has changed our lives. Smartphones, tablets and laptops connect us at the touch of a button, no matter whom we’re with or where we are. In 2008, there were more smart, connected devices in existence than people on Earth. By 2020, there will be 50 billion of these devices – about six per person.
We’re moving rapidly into a hyper-connected world, where our devices relate not only with the cloud, but also with each other and the world around them. Here are five important insights into this new, engaged reality, as more objects and devices become linked to the Internet of Everything (IoE):
The IoE increases our independence, access and mobility. With cloud computing, we can access stored data anywhere, meaning we don’t have to be tethered to our offices or homes. We can reach loved ones around the world by email, text, phone and even video call services. And new conduits of communication are sure to emerge, as the IoE evolves and expands.
As our homes and appliances get smarter, they’ll start to predict and adjust to our daily routine. Security systems like Canary are affordable and easy to install, thanks to sensors and Wi-Fi. Smart refrigerators can remind you to pick up orange juice when you’re running low. The Nest thermostat learns your habits and adjusts the temperature of your home to save energy.
In the near future, we will see more connected devices in our homes, from coffee makers to clocks. Imagine waking up to an alarm that’s synced to your calendar and the latest weather and traffic conditions. Your clock knows you have a 9 a.m. meeting and that the roads are icy, and nudges you out of bed 15 minutes early so you won’t be late. Your coffee maker, linked to your alarm, knows to start brewing a fresh pot just before you get out of bed.
The IoE will revolutionize our roadways. New cars already have the technology to take over certain functions, including lane adjustment and parallel parking assistance. Soon, cars will even drive themselves.
The IoE will also give people more control over their health and well-being through remote health monitoring and digital health and wellness. Smart pill bottles can remind you to take your medicine. Patches will be able to track vitals and transmit data to health care providers. Bandages equipped with sensors can speed up healing. Solutions like these will reduce hospital stays and office visits, letting doctors and patients focus on proactive, not reactive, care. More, patients will be able to reach their doctors remotely, increasing accessibility. A majority of patients are optimistic that these virtual visits will be beneficial.
As we move into the IoE, we still face challenges. Two stand out in particular: spectrum availability and privacy.
Spectrum is the “lifeblood of innovation.” Smart devices need ample spectrum to communicate with their surroundings and each other. We are facing a spectrum shortfall and must free up valuable spectrum to ensure that our smart devices work. Congress has authorized the FCC to hold the world’s first-ever voluntary TV broadcast spectrum incentive auction that will yield spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed use.
Consumer privacy must be at the center of the IoE. Having more connected devices will mean more data and personal information collected and shared. This will require trust on the part of customers and serious vigilance from manufacturers and providers.
Driverless cars will mean more freedom for the elderly and disabled and will increase safety by removing driver error. More, driverless cars could drastically reduce our carbon footprint, decreasing the number of vehicles on the road. Interactive traffic signs, lights and crosswalks could communicate with cars, making roads safer for drivers and pedestrians. The impact this technology will have on our lives is huge, and could be a common sight on our roads by 2025 – or sooner.
Despite these remaining hurdles, the Internet of Everything continues to grow and will steadily revolutionize the way we live and connect. We’ve only scratched the surface of its mind-blowing potential to improve our lives.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.