The Evolution of IoT . . . and the Future

Is IoT a Money Maker?

By Peter Rogers

We hear a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT), but the multi-billion-dollar question is, how does anybody actually make any money? Here’s what’s happening:

Related: Internet of Things Tech Seen as a Boost for Businesses

  1. The cloud-based vendors will add IoT support in order to retain or grow their customer bases within their MBaaS, MADP, or API-gateway solutions.

  2. The developers will try to cash in on wearables as a new platform.

  3. Random new wearable devices will appear from disparate vendors.

Once the dust settles, I foresee the next big thing will be integrating networked hardware sensors with everyday consumer products. The size, price, and functionality of sensors is now so attractive that we can integrate them into our lives in frictionless ways.

I created a hardware demo of a consumer product (a squeezable mayonnaise bottle) that could detect when and where it was shaken and then send that information to a marketing micro-website. You can watch the video here and add your thoughts (and if you want, you can help my Kickstarter to fund it #JustKidding). I could also potentially make the bottle able to detect when it was nearly empty and to automatically order another one.

The Endless Possibilities of Sensors

A few days after I created this squeezable mayo bottle, the Amazon Dash Button was announced, and people could actually press a remote button to directly order something. It gets better… A few weeks later, Google announced Project Soli, which is effectively a small radar sensor which can detect minute finger movements and map them into user interactions. I was so excited that I ordered a Flic, a remote button which you can program to do just about anything. The possibilities seem endless and the sensors are only going to get smaller. Indeed, while the current trend is for phones and also watches to get bigger, it is left to the sensors to shrink and seamlessly integrate.

I would predict that the real money is in these small integrated sensors that can offer us digital experiences without our touching a PC, phone, tablet, or watch. Interestingly, my prediction fits into the post-app-world vision that Apple and Google are allegedly eyeing. For in the post-app world, the API rules supreme and offers us frictionless services integrated into our consumer products. This vision of hardware sensors able to offer us user interaction without a traditional screen is intriguing, and it describes the multiple touch points of the article fittingly.

Related: What is the Internet of Things? And why should you care?

It’s all about sensors, honey

After sensors, the real money lies surely with what the sensors produce: data. Suddenly, big data just got a whole lot more interesting. There will be reams and reams of data from hardware sensors everywhere that are just crying out for big-data processing solutions.

But what do we do with the data? Here is where the algorithms come in. Intelligent algorithms can analyse consumer data and use predictive analytics to offer us services before we even know that we need them. And then what? The algorithms start to use artificial intelligence, and we end up with automated agents that operate on data models using M2M, freely trading data with each other in order to analyse us and then directly offer us new targeted services. Cold calling has already replaced humans with static voice recordings, but how long before that becomes dynamic? Imagine an autonomous agent somewhere that processes enough of your data to work out that you need double glazing and then dynamically records a sales pitch and sends it to you.

My predictions in a nutshell are sensors’ integrating with everyday consumer products and the results’ driving the big-data market some 12 months later. And what of virtual reality? The more I think about it, the more I see an augmented digital reality (AR) powered by sensors where the “screen” is our lives. I think the mistake that AR vendors made in the past was to think that we actually needed a screen.