We live in a world where every person uses a smart phone or tablet to remain connected with the Internet and stay updated. In 2010 the number of computers in the world had surpassed the population of the planet and by 2020 this number is expected to reach 26 billion devices, as predicted by Gartner.
The Wave of the Future
The Internet of Things will enable disparate, everyday devices to be connected to the Internet and share data via cloud computing. While this has already started to some extent, there are a few hurdles that have to be surmounted.
- The Internet of Things thrives on the sharing of data, and when every device a consumer uses has its own proprietary cloud service the sharing of data becomes a problem. A possible solution would be to allow each person their own personal cloud.
- Allowing so many devices to connect with each other could also potentially allow the spread of malware at an exponential rate. In this case, developers have to be extra vigilant with the security of their app.
- While a surveillance programme like PRISM collected its data from the servers of tech firms, the Internet of Things will allow intimate data about a person to be accessed – from which route their car takes everyday to how often one restocks their refrigerator. Developers will have to be adamant that the privacy of their consumer’s data not be used by advertising companies or the government.
- Not every bit of data is important, and just how much the user can actually benefit from is something developers will have to keep in mind.
- There is no common infrastructure as yet, so all products for the IoT are all closed-sourced. To realize the full potential of the IoT, app developers will have to make their products open-source.
Possibilities for the IoT
There are possibilities that app developers should take note of.
- Products which can be connected with the Internet are an untapped market. Nest Labs, which makes thermostats that, are connected with the Internet is an example of products whose use can be enhanced by the IoT.
- With the data collected from the product, app developers can improve their profitability by predicting their customer’s needs and thereby strengthen the customer-retailer relationship. This shift from just selling a product to providing a service is one which will be worth exploring.
- The IoT is helping different industries to merge. iRobot, a company which previously made robots for the military is making products for the healthcare industry, e.g., the RP-VITA which is cloud connected and has access to a patient’s medical records. App developers will have to think creatively to understand the potential needs and wants of the consumer.
- Cities nowadays are becoming more complex, and with the IoT there is a possibility for app makers to help in the management of a city. Apps can be made to help monitor the level of sound around hospitals or schools, to help in the supply and distribution of water and electricity, etc.
- The IoT will help in addressing climate change by enabling clean-energy technologies, such as smart meters which help consumers track their energy consumption.