Updated Jul. 7, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.

Inside the 'Interent of Things' - why you should care

Published: 2014-07-07 15:46:00
Updated: 2014-07-07 15:55:50

A Cisco graphic projects "IoT growth A Cisco graphic projects "IoT growth. The full graphic can be viewed online at: http://postscapes.com/infographic-cisco-internet-of-things. Image 1 of 3 · Next Image…

Editor's note: You've probably heard or read about IoT - the Internet of Things. But did you know you most likely are benefitting from it even as you read these words? Triangle entrepreneur Matthew Davis, who works at apps developer StepLeader in Raleigh and who recently helped put on an IoT event (RIoT), explains why you should get on this tech bandwagon in an exclusive report for WRAL TechWire.

RALEIGH, N.C. - You are likely benefitting from The Internet of Things [IoT] today, whether or not you’re familiar with the term.

If your phone automatically connects to your car radio, or if you have a GPS watch counting your steps, congratulations! You adopted one small piece of a very large IoT pie, even if you haven't adopted the name. Cisco, an established player in IoT, forecasts that this industry will grow to $14,000,000,000,000 [that’s trillion] by 2022 forecast, only eight years away. That’s the equivalent of giving every living person on the earth $2,000 cash.

But what the heck is the Internet of Things, and why should anyone care? IoT’s promise is connecting the offline world to the online to drastically improve global communication between people, things, and institutions, while boosting personal and professional productivity.

Definitions for IoT abound, but I simplify it for my own sanity: IoT allows any object to communicate with any other object. Machines, buildings, automobiles, phones, cars, traffic lights, watches, fridges all communicating with one another over public and private networks.

Cisco graphic projects IoT growthOn the tip of the iceberg, it’s about the real-world examples. Real-time tracking of inventory, crop and soil management. The smart thermostat like Nest or smart light bulbs like Philips Hue. Instantly sharing critical health data with your doctor. There are 61 more examples here covering a range of industries.

Below the surface exists a vast layer of services powering this technology, enabling the communication, the data storage, and the analysis. Making all of these “Things” seamlessly communicate with one another presents new challenges and therefore opportunities.

While the term IoT is relatively new, the unofficial start began in 1983 when the US patent office granted Charles Walton the first patent associated with the abbreviation RFID [Radio frequency identification].

Today’s surge in popularity of IoT stems from two things.

WRAL TechWire coverage of IoT:

First, we have more affordable and smaller computers, devices, and sensors, along with much cheaper costs for bandwidth and storage.

Second, 65% of the US [source: ComScore] and 22% of the world now own a smartphone [source: KPCB]. The technology needed to bring this to scale lives in your smartphone right now. This double-whammy permits businesses worldwide to affordably implement millions of RFID chips, NFC tags [Near field communication], or beacons [low energy Bluetooth transmitters] to blanket the world in digital coverage, with smartphones able to connect them to meaningful value for everyday people. Easy consumer adoption, not industrial application, drives the surge in awareness.

The point I’m working towards: IoT represents a massive wave of technical innovation. Highly valuable companies will be built and new ecosystems will emerge from bridging the offline world with the online into one gigantic new network.
Whatever you do, refrain from jumping to the conclusion that the Internet of Things is pointless and that it’s just a buzzword. According to International Data Corporation it’s a $1.9 trillion dollar industry today, while a great buzzword helps speed the understanding and spreading of complex concepts.

Our limited understanding of the possibilities hinders our ability to see future applications for any new technology. Mainstream adoption of desktop computers and the internet didn’t take hold until they became affordable and usable. When that occurred, fantastic innovation ensued. We are on the cusp of that tipping point with the Internet of Things.

IoT matters because it will create new industries, new companies, new jobs, and new economic growth. It will transform existing segments of our economy: retail, farming, industrial, logistics, cities, the environment. It will turn your smartphone into the command center for the both the digital and physical objects in your life.

We will live and work smarter, not harder.

About the author:

Matthew Davis Matthew Davis is vice president of Product Marketing at StepLeader.

Matthew spent the last 8 years deeply entrenched in online and mobile marketing. Prior to StepLeader, he served as Chief Operating Officer for a Durham-based mobile startup. He received his MBA from North Carolina State University, adding twins to the family during the first year of the program. Matthew, his wife, and their three children live in Chapel Hill, where he attended UNC-Chapel Hill as an undergraduate.

(Editor's note: Capitol Broadcasting, the parent company of WRAL TechWire, is an investor in StepLeader, which was spun out from CBC's New Media division.)


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