The numbers being forecast for the Internet of Things (IoT) are mind-boggling.
BI Intelligence finds that 1.9 billion once-inert everyday and enterprise devices are already connected to the internet - from parking meters to home thermostats - and by 2018 that number will top 9 billion.
That's roughly equal to the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs combined.
There are already clear signs that the biggest tech companies - and even smaller players - are trying to get out front of the race to dominate the IOT. Google has acquired Nest. Apple has unveiled its HomeKit platform. Even Staples and Honeywell - not typically companies thought of as tech leaders - are putting out new IOT-related products.
As uptake among consumers and businesses ticks up, BI Intelligence finds in a recent report that the IOT market will drive trillions in economic value as it permeates consumer and business life. Soon, it will be perfectly normal to have a refrigerator that talks to you and a garage door you open with your smartphone.
In the consumer space, many products and services have already crossed over into the IoT, including kitchen and home appliances, lighting and heating products, and insurance company-issued car monitoring devices that allow motorists to pay insurance only for the amount of driving they do.
In the report, we also find that there's a huge amount of innovation happening in the business-to-business IOT space right now.
Here's a look at some of the most important enterprise applications that are already being developed:
- Connected advertising and marketing. Cisco believes that this category (think Internet-connected billboards) will be one of the top three IoT categories, along with smart factories, and telecommuting support systems.
- Intelligent traffic management systems. Machina research, in a paper prepared for the GSM Association, sees $100 billion in revenue by 2020 for applications such as toll-taking and congestion penalties. A related revenue source will be smart parking-space management, expected to drive $30 billion in revenue.
- Waste management systems. In Cincinnati, residential waste volume fell 17% and recycling volume grew by 49% through use of a "pay as you throw" program that used IoT technology to monitor those who exceed waste limits.
- Smart electricity grids that adjust rates for peak energy usage.These will represent savings of $200 billion to $500 billion per year by 2025, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
- Smart water systems and meters. The cities of Doha, Sa~o Paulo, and Beijing have reduced leaks by 40 to 50% by putting sensors on pumps and other water infrastructure.
- Industrial uses including Internet-managed assembly lines, connected factories, and warehouses, etc.
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