The Internet of Things has been called the next Industrial Revolution. This enormous network of web-connected objects is expanding at an explosive rate. While no one is debating the fact the market is growing, there has been plenty of discussion on how large it will become. Last year, Gartner predicted that 20.8 billion IoT devices will be installed by 2020, resulting in over $300 trillion in revenue. IDC, on the other hand, forecasted the number to be even larger, with 22 billion products installed by 2018.
So what can these products do? Currently, the term “smart home device” invokes thoughts of thermostats, light switches, door locks, and other products which can be accessed and controlled through a mobile device. But it’s likely the next generation of home automation may focus more on the automation.
While the growth of the IoT is good news, there are concerns that grow along with it. Topping the list is security: the more products come available, the more opportunities arise for data hacking and other security breaches. In 2014, Hewlett-Packard conducted a research study on ten popular consumer IoT devices. Their investigation found a large majority of the devices contained personal information, did not require sufficiently complex passwords, and transmitted unencrypted data, among other security concerns. Because these devices are always connected, the risk increases even more. Designing with security and privacy in mind is, and will continue to be, a necessary priority for future smart home products.
Security concerns notwithstanding, the growth potential of IoT devices is limitless. There are already pet feeders which deliver food automatically and let you watch your pet eat it, tennis rackets that analyze your game, a showerhead that updates you on the amount of water you use while you shower, even a wall clock that displays data from other smart devices, such as your thermostat or fitness tracker. The Internet of Things is taking a giant leap to connect all of the important – and even unimportant – facets of our lives, provide convenience, and become a mainstream presence for consumers.