The Internet of Things: a silly term for a very important concept. Originally coined back in the 1990s, the phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT) describes a scenario – at the time theorized as something of a technological pipe dream, but now quickly becoming an everyday reality – in which objects, animals, or people (the titular “things”) are able to transfer data over a network without having to interact with a computer as an intermediary. This core concept serves as the foundation for an exciting new type of computing, one in which devices are so seamlessly interconnected that the way we interact with them in a way that was never before possible.
But what does that mean in layman’s terms? Examples of connected devices you’re probably familiar with include streaming TV players like Roku and AppleTV, de rigueur learning thermostat Nest, digital media player Chromecast, and fitness device Fitbit, to name just a few. Users love these devices because they’re intuitive, and that intuitiveness is powerful. The same people who ten years ago were pulling their hair out in frustration because they couldn’t get the cable box to work are binge-watching Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black on their Rokus while their Fitbit tracks their workout stats and their Nest – which knows that 6:30 is workout time on Tuesdays – automatically lowers the temperature so they don’t get too sweaty. The Jetsons ain’t got nuthin’ on that.
Given the sheer functionality of connected devices, it’s no surprise that the user base is rapidly expanding, or that investors are lining up to get in on the ground floor of the next big thing. Last year, for example, investors fought each other tooth and nail for the privilege of giving Roku an incredible $130 million in investment capital; now, IT research agency IDC is estimating that by 2020, IoT will be a $7.1 trillion industry. We don’t need to tell you that that’s a truly staggering number. What’s more, ABI Research estimates that by the same year, there will be more than 30 billion individual devices connected through the IoT.
The Internet of Things is already having a big impact on businesses, which are now able to afford to outsource IT services thanks to “the Cloud.” The Internet of Things for business has changed what success looks like in communication, collaboration and connection. Technology is finally working around users, rather than the other way around. And these advances let users forget about worrying how the technology works, ever again.
There’s no doubt about it: our first steps towards a true Internet of Things offers us a glimpse at a brave new world of computing possibilities. As more and more things go on the Cloud, the barriers between our lives and our technology will increasingly fade, until our devices are extensions of ourselves. It’s an exciting time to be in the technology business, as we’ve proven with our Cloud-powered Lifesize Icon + Lifesize Cloud video conferencing solution, and we look forward to seeing how this trend will grow in the next five to ten years. Now if we could just do something about those flying cars The Jetsons promised us…