The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to be the most important technological development for consumers since the advent of the smartphone. Experts believe that this collection of internet-connected technologies will eventually generate more than $123 billion in annual revenue by 2021.
Major companies, like Amazon, Google, and Tesla, are already working with software development services to produce cutting-edge IoT devices that can utilize the ultra-fast speeds offered through 5G wireless, expected to be widely available within the next five years.
The IoT is expected to make advanced smart homes a reality. In addition, it will dramatically improve public transportation systems and make self-driving cars a widespread phenomenon.
Finally, the IoT is expected to make headway into the healthcare industry through improved wearable devices, which can provide physicians with more accurate and higher-quality data while also improving patient outcomes.
What is the Internet of Things?
The IoT is a broad term used to refer to the vast network of internet-connected devices that exist today.
Experts predict that there will be more than 36 billion devices connected to the internet by the end of this year. Such number is only expected to rise once 5G wireless technology becomes widely available and software development companies continue to produce IoT-specific software.
A limited version of the IoT is already present today. Consumers can transform their houses into smart homes by integrating internet-connected devices, like refrigerators, laundry machines, thermostats, and security systems into their personal network.
All of these devices can be controlled with the touch of a smartphone button. In addition, homeowners can create settings that determine when these devices are turned on or shut off, and that increases energy efficiency by shutting off unnecessary systems.
In addition, smart speakers and personal assistants are already in a remarkably large number of U.S. homes. Research has found that more than a quarter of American households own an AI-driven voice assistant like Google Home or Amazon Echo.
The rollout of 5G technology over the next five years, combined with advancements in AI other related technologies will make many of the following IoT predictions a reality.
Everyday home life will be dramatically impacted by the IoT. Smart homes are already integrating the technology to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste.
Homeowners can set their thermostat to turn off when they leave the house for work and to turn on when they enter their car and leave the office. The same can be done for lighting, security systems, televisions, and more.
In the future, everything may be customized to this extent. A homeowner’s alarm clock will check local traffic and weather conditions before waking the owner up, ensuring that they get to work on time no matter what is happening in the world around them. The smart home will also make sure that a fresh pot of coffee is ready when the resident stumbles into the kitchen.
Once the person is awake, the house may automatically turn on the shower to the homeowner’s preferred temperature, launch the television to their favorite program, and provide them with a quick update on the weather, traffic, and major world news.
Smart assistants will become more advanced as well. Users can already look up information, create calendar reminders, and contact others using the device. Eventually, they will be able to pay bills, book vacations, and even order groceries and other household items with a quick voice command.
The transportation industry is already collaborating with specialized software development providers to make self-driving cars a reality and to increase efficiency and reduce waste.
Companies like Tesla are currently producing early-generation autonomous cars that function using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and the IoT. However, the introduction of 5G technology will dramatically increase the amount of data that these devices can collect and share.
These ultra-fast wireless speeds will allow the sensors on these cars to transmit enough data to safely assess road conditions and bring the number of self-driving car fatalities down to near-zero.
Experts predict that autonomous cars will finally reach their potential — defined as being able to drive new routes with a very high degree of success and near-zero accidents — within the next decade.
However, the IoT revolution is not limited to self-driving cars. This technology will also improve public transportation. The United States is known globally for its poor public transportation system. Buses and trains often fail to run on time, causing delays and making it difficult for people to plan their journeys.
The answer for some major cities will be the rollout of IoT-connected public transportation systems that can plan for delays, provide riders with accurate arrival times, and reduce the number of offline vehicles through predictive maintenance.
The healthcare industry may undergo the biggest transformation as a result of the IoT. For example, the IoT will dramatically change the way that wearable devices are viewed and used by the medical profession.
Popular wearable devices like the Fitbit have already become very popular with consumers. In the future, every patient with a serious medical illness will likely wear some type of wearable device in order to track body markers, patient adherence to behavioral changes, and to collect valuable data that can be used in the future treatment of diseases.
For example, patients with a metabolic disorder, like diabetes, will soon have their blood glucose monitors connected to the internet — where it can transmit data directly to the primary physician.
This will help doctors understand when blood sugar levels are spiked, how insulin and other drugs are managing them, and how they can help their patients make crucial lifestyle changes.
Wearable devices will also help patients and their doctors manage those changes. Rather than relying on patient-reported details, doctors will be able to look at device data to determine how much physical activity is completed, how many calories are taken in, the macronutrient breakdown of the calories, and whether medications are being taken correctly and consistently.
Oncologists will also be able to use IoT devices to monitor cancer patient nutrition and weight management, to identify changes in important blood markers related to disease progression, and track their daily symptoms as new treatment protocols and drugs are introduced.
The IoT will undoubtedly change the way that individuals interact with the world and technology around them. This network of internet-connected devices will have many positive impacts, beginning at home. The introduction of smart homes will increase energy efficiency and comfort, while also reducing waste and saving homeowners crucial time.
This cutting-edge technology will also transform the modern transportation system by making fully-autonomous vehicles a reality throughout the world. It will also improve public transportation through predictive maintenance, better communication with riders, and making buses and trains run more reliably and on-time.
Finally, the IoT is expected to improve patient outcomes and communications between doctors and patients. In particular, wearable devices will take much of the guesswork these interactions, since physicians will no longer have to rely on patients for self-reported information.