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What’s the Future of the IoT?

The concept of the “internet of things” was initially proposed in 1999 by Kevin Ashton. While it initially sounded like it was impossible, today, the concept is becoming very real.

Predictions estimate that the growth of the IoT will reach 50 billion objects by 2020. So, what will a world with that many internet-connected devices look like?

To find out, we spoke with industry leading experts and asked the question:

What’s the future of the IoT?

This is what we learned…

Barry Vandevier, CIO, SVP Technology Products, Asurion

“With 6.4 billion connected things in use worldwide in 2016, the IoT industry will only continue to expand and become more complicated over the next 20 years. A new experience is required to help consumers navigate the complexity of multi-device interoperability between connected homes, cars, offices and overall mobility. No lone entity is currently positioned or incentivized to support all, and the result is a gap between the technology people buy and the technology they actually know how to use. Even early adopters are struggling to learn how to use what should be intuitive devices, making the challenge to an average consumer, who is more interested in the function rather than the specs, increasingly difficult. Now and over the next couple decades, consumers will increasingly rely on tech support companies as a resource to help them learn and grow alongside advancing technology.”


Adebayo Onigbanjo, Director of Marketing at Zebra Technologies

“The Internet of Things (IoT) has been described as the anchor of the next industrial revolution that will bring billions of connected things as well as increased efficiency and greater productivity into our lives. The current challenge is that most businesses are struggling to identify the killer app, use-case or right return on investment (ROI).

We believe the future of the IoT will be in workflow applications that transform the way work and tasks are completed. These solutions will rely on the continuous sensing happening at the edge of the network, along with analysis, abstraction and augmentation in domain-based IoT platforms, which will not only power applications, but tell the user the next best action to perform.”


Haomiao Huang, CTO & Co-founder of Kuna Systems

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities will finally give our homes the smart upgrade they desperately need. Our household appliances will have expanded capabilities and the ability to intuitively link together, something that has prevented and plagued IoT platforms from reaching their full potential.

I envision a home where machines are another participating member of our household. From basic roles like completing chores (without complaining like humans!) to more serious roles like preventing break-ins or listening for and reporting evidence of domestic abuse, artificial intelligence has the transformative powers to finally make an autonomous, proactive and useful smart home an attainable reality.”


Liam Kiely, VP, Fabrics & Infrastructure at Avaya

“I see three technology trends, fueling the inevitable exponential growth of IoT.

The unbounded opportunity to instrument every single aspect of our environment with sensors that are networked will result in interactive engagements with the environment. Growth will proceed to saturation point since as social creatures we crave interaction and that demand will find supply.

Single IoT entities will be aggregated into machines, (physical & virtual) or into complex hybrid systems that will be both self-aware and learning to a very high degree.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) based on Machine Learning will emerge to interpret IoT data and context enabling intelligent interactive responses, P2M and M2M. This transformative field of research is advancing within academia and the high tech industry in Silicon Valley and will create a new wave of transformative software enterprises.

Profound changes will come in fields like healthcare, entertainment and education. In healthcare AI doctors will help diagnose complex cases via self help web services. Similarly in Education AI personal tutors & mentors will assist in human development. Touch, smell or just look at a flower and learn as much about it as you care to know.”


Vladimir Vukicevic, CEO of Meural

“The IoT products of today are energy leeches. They take our time and attention without giving enough in return. A lot of emotional and intellectual energy is required to make current IoT products actually work.

I predict that in 20 years, IoT products will be seamlessly integrated into our lives. They will become a natural extension of our humanity—giving us time, energy, and general well-being. This will take a lot of experimentation and failure, but in the end, human-based IoT will represent a leap in our evolution.”


Szymon Niemczura, CEO at Kontakt.io

“Today, we have realized that IoT is not about connecting every single item to the cloud. There is no need to shuffle the date through the cloud and then shuffle it back in order to retrieve meaningful information. This means doing the computing where it matters and the future of IoT will be all about it.

With the coming Bluetooth standard we will talk about Industry 5.0, connecting things and people not only to the internet, but also on a more local level. We are standing before the era of affordable IoT that can finally cover not only specific processes but everything within a building. Everything from machines to people can use one infrastructure and the same language. When these actors can talk to each other it will create true efficiency.”


Sufian Farrukh, Online Security Analyst at PureVPN

“Recent studies done by Gartner, Cisco and Business Insider vindicate a massive increase in the number of connected cars in the near future. BI intelligence reveals that more than 80% of all cars manufactured will be connected to the internet for various reasons. My prediction is that millennials & working professionals like me will be found streaming music, looking up movie times, get alerts on traffic and weather conditions, and even use power driving-assistance services such as self-parking.

Companies would access these connected cars for effective fleet management through telematics and the technologies available then. However, keeping in mind the vulnerabilities of using the internet with respect to online security & privacy, I do believe that these cars should ideally support the installation/setup of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) & other security protocols to keep the significant & confidential information protected at all times.”


Dave Evans, Co-founder & CTO of Stringify

“The next phase of IoT will add intelligence to every-day connected thing, transforming IoT into IoIT – the Internet of Intelligent Things. This phase will solve many of the early IoT challenges including usability, applicability, and affordability. There are many other advances in technologies that will shape IoT, such as 5G, which promises to bring wireless speeds that are orders of magnitude greater than today’s. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence mean that machines are starting to adapt to us instead of us having to always adapt to them. For years, we have had to adapt to them – to learn a new interface for example, but that’s changing rapidly. Machines are beginning to understand our language, our faces, our emotions, and our intent. Of significance is that these capabilities are all moving to the cloud which means that a “dumb” thing with a connection, becomes a very “intelligent” thing. In the near future, you are going to be surrounded by a lot of really smart things.”


Dan Roberts, Co-founder of Scout

“The future of IoT is ubiquitous computing with the goal to create a seamless user experience that augments life for the better. In 20 years, IoT will mean a seamless user experience that augments in some way such as informed, timely, automated, secure or otherwise enhanced.

With that said, it is worth quoting William Gibson’s famous line; “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” So, while the technology industry will always strive to push computing and enhance the end-to-end experience of using it, the future is both here today in some form and yet will never be fully realized, as the job is never done.”


George Avetisov, Co-founder & CEO of HYPR

“As devices become more intelligent they’ll become ubiquitous in what humans do. We’ll be fully reliant on IoT availability, functionality and security to influence our actions and interactions. If this seems absurd just consider our acute dependence on today’s smartphones.

In 20 years every IoT device will be connected and will be aware of every other device. Traffic signals will be outmoded since every car will know where every other car is, perhaps globally. Air traffic controllers will do less – or nothing – since the aircrafts themselves will be capable of managing a system with far greater efficiency. Driving, in the sense of operating a vehicle, will be an option.

Gains to efficiency will be so substantial that now is a good time to ponder how we’ll enrich ourselves in the way we see fit: read, socialize, recreate, and of course further innovate.”


Gordon Van Huizen, VP of Platform Strategy at Mendix

“The Future of IoT is Augmented Humanity.

In 20 years, sensors, smart devices and big data will be so pervasive—and human-computer interactions so natural—that they will have become invisible. But their impact on humanity will be profound. We will live within an ambient computing sphere that augments nearly every aspect of our daily lives. The notion of an “app” will have faded away. In its place will be always-on smart agents, running in the cloud, that people will interact with whenever they need or want to. These agents won’t just respond to our immediate requests, but will proactively seek things we may want to do, notify us of things we need to act upon, and take care of the things they’ve learned to do on their own. They’ll also remember things people have long forgotten, and make sense of what people can’t. They won’t replace people. They will help us achieve more—and enjoy more.”


Michael J Smith, CSO of Evus Technologies

“IoT will move technology into the background, into the environment around us. From explicit to implicit.

When you learn to ride a bike you have to explicitly instruct your body to maintain balance, to move your legs a certain way. Over time you no longer need to consciously direct your body in order to ride that bike – you just can. Technology, through IoT, is following the same pattern. Technology will require less and less explicit instruction.

Gradually, ubiquitous technology will branch out to encompass the unanticipated. To be smart enough to predict and to use contextual understanding of its surroundings with what it already knows.

Imagine the life augmenting implications as technology can instinctively anticipate what the next move will be. Everything you do is interpreted by surrounding sensors to better understand you. It will anticipate what you will like, what you may want at a given moment, where you might be 30 minutes from now and what mood you might be in before you even know it.

It is this ability to anticipate that will drive the human experience that will drive the technology. It is here that technology begins its progression, not descent, into the background of our lives.”


Patrick F. Wilbur, Co-founder & CTO of Hologram

“The future of IoT is the computer in Star Trek—having systems that not only do what we program them to do, but also anticipate and even preemptively adapt to better our lives. To this end, we need to solve some major hurdles not only in AI, but also ubiquitous connectivity, open standards and discovery, and trust and identification, to name a few things. My home should authorize any guest to request a glass of water if that guest is already present inside my house, but know not to allow just anyone to dispense food or beverage when not present; also, each time I purchase new products or enter the vicinity of new systems, the capabilities of technology around me should increase more rapidly than the sum of their parts or my imagination. The future is smart environments and effective trust/interaction models aligning to produce automatic synergy and capability.”


Mike Kelly, CTO of Blue Medora

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is widely acknowledged as a big growth area for the coming years. More connected devices will create more data, which has to be securely shared, stored, managed and analyzed. As a result, databases will become more complex and the management burden will increase. Those organizations which can most effectively monitor their database layer to optimize peak performance and resolve bottlenecks will be more strongly placed in a better position to exploit the opportunities the IoT will bring.”


Dr. Davor Sutija, CEO of Thinfilm

“There is something much bigger than the Internet of Things brewing called the Internet of Everything – otherwise known as IoE. Instead of the communications between electric-powered, internet-connected devices that the IoT allows, the IoE extends well beyond traditional IoT boundaries to include the countless everyday, disposable items in the world. If the IoT is the solar system, then the IoE is every galaxy in the universe. The IoE is where these disposable products and consumer goods are connected and talking to customers. These products don’t need electricity to connect, because the IoE is built around the smartphone and existing Near Field Communications technology – otherwise known as NFC. By using a smartphone to power and interact with NFC-based tags integrated directly into products, a consumer can instantly receive contextual messaging, unique content, special offers or product information.”


Eric Chiu, Founder & President of HyTrust

“The Internet of attack surface will continue to spread in 2017. More and more IoT devices, as well as a wider variety of devices, will enter the market that are IP enabled. In the short term this is going to create additional vulnerabilities and present challenges to security professionals across vastly enlarged attack surface everywhere from homes to enterprises to even automobiles. With higher value and higher consequence devices, like those found in an automobile, automakers will start to pay closer attention to security in a number of ways, from encrypting and securing control planes like CANbus–which previously were assumed to be secure via obscurity–as well as wider use of OTA updates. Lower value devices, including IP cameras, routers, among others, will eventually have more widely available updates, but these will be mostly manual, pull updates. It is likely we will see more automated push updates may be made available later to help better secure a wide spectrum of consumer devices, at least to combat well known and documented threats.”


Kevin Tate, CRO at Rigado

“We will see companies graduate from singular IoT efforts to creating whole families of connected products, fueling the IoT land-grab stretching across industries – from building automation to commercial lighting to healthcare. Building families of connected products, based on an extensible IoT platform, will allow businesses to offer smart devices that lower management overhead, increase customer lifetime value, and get smarter over time. However, as creating these families of low power wireless IoT solutions is easier said than done, in the near-term we will also see false starts and more organizations turning to IoT specialists who can help expedite the design and build of these market-grabbing future-proof IoT solutions.”


Erik Gerard, Principal at Impact Advisors

“Healthcare organizations are leveraging IoT technology to create better patient outcomes and engagement while reducing the burden on doctors and nurses.

Medical device integration, smart beds, patient location services and remote surveillance can create an observation fabric that improves hospitals’ ability to engage with patients in a timely manner. In turn, this data can be used to automatically communicate with personnel on the floor who are immediately available to interact with the patient in need.

When implemented properly and integrated into clinical workflows, IoT can help hospitals become more efficient and effective. This is becoming vitally important, as healthcare organizations move to reduce costs and produce better results. Those organizations that handle these well are reaping the benefits and in some cases, these technologies can pay for themselves in a matter of months.

As hospital systems develop a holistic, unified IoT strategy, the hospital of tomorrow becomes a reality today.”


Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, Founder & CEO of Connecthings

“IoT goes well beyond connected appliances and will continue to do so in the future as more and more emphasis will be put on smart city innovation. IoT technology will be used much more readily in larger, publicly-used things and spaces, like mass transit systems, commercial centers, airports, and stadiums, to allow cities and even private enterprises to communicate with citizens hyper-locally via their mobile devices. This constant connectivity will allow for greater efficiency in the transportation of goods and people and allow for cities to communicate with their citizens in a more effective manner in emergency situations. With the populations of cities swelling, IoT technology is already a must for city leadership that is looking to accommodate the growth and will be imperative in modernizing cities for improved efficiency, sustainability, and overall quality of life.”


Ariel Stern, CEO of Ayyeka

“In twenty years, I believe that we will see a very different and more mature IoT ecosystem than what we have today. Use-cases will separate between instances where the IoT is essential towards driving new forms of connectivity and hype. And I believe that a lot of the ‘hype’ we’re currently seeing in the space, particularly on the consumer side of the IoT, will disappear.

I also envision that a series of mergers and acquisitions will significantly shape the business landscape over coming years and that IoT will shift in the direction of dominant market players who have the know-how to monetize its most exciting applications.”



About the author

Nick Hastreiter

I write about the future of business. I approach this by interviewing founders, CEO's, and other game changers to share their vision for the future of their industry.

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