One of my not-so-secret passions is trend watching: Identifying what will be hot (e.g. Pokemon Go) and what will disrupt the future of work. I am a regular guest writer for the Women’s Network Australia on the subject of disruptive trends and the industries they will impact.
This post first appeared on the Women’s Network Australia blog.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Have you heard of the Internet of Things or IoT? This is another trend that is really kicking into gear and which has massive potential to transform how we do things.
At its simplest level, IoT is just devices and machines with chips and microsensors in them talking to other devices and machines with chips and microsensors in them. (1)
While the IoT has as its base smart devices or machine to machine communication (M2M), where it delivers a punch is when the devices connect and then leverage the data that they are gathering. This is where thousands of these devices work together to streamline, report and trigger some type of action in the same way that an army of ants work together.
Where are we now?
The earliest examples of IoT were things like RFID chips on cattle. Now they are everywhere from machines that report inventory back to a central location and place restocking orders (e.g. managed photocopy services), through to downloading data from medical devices such as pacemakers.
From smart home lighting automation, through to remote monitoring of events such as Tsunamis and earthquakes. Isolated mining dams are now tracked using the IoT as are fleet managers tracking their cars and trucks to keep an eye on things such as rests, fuel consumption and speeding.
The UK has estimated that up to 35% of all jobs will be lost to automation in the next 20 years. (2) It is also estimated that 30 billion devices will be connected via IoT by 2020 (3).
Industries most likely to be impacted
Transport – When you merge the data from autonomous cars with data from traffic lights and in-built road sensors, you get reduced traffic jams, smoother flowing roads, and clearer decisions about infrastructure requirements. On a further plus – you always get a parking space and you will never lose your luggage. (4) (5)
Street lighting – Lighting that automatically dim when no-one is driving past or walking past will reduce electricity costs. (4)
Medical & Health – Tracking and monitoring of everything from exercise through to vital signs and sugar levels. (4)
Marketing – Targeted ads that only shows when you wander past a beacon are already being piloted. (6)
Aged Care – Tracking to make sure that an aged person is moving around and taking their medication will mean people can remain at home for longer. (7)
Retail – Shop and go will take on a whole new meaning as you will just load up a trolley and be automatically debited on the way out. No more checkout chicks! (8)
Insurance – If every car is connected via IoT, then potentially premiums would be varied based on actual driving behaviour. More reason to lose the lead foot. (9)
As this is a disruptive trend the IoT is developing extremely rapidly. New technology is being mashed up with other new ideas in ways unthought-of in the past decade. Who knows — an IoT lipstick may not be a pipe dream after all.