Apna Time Aayega (Your Time Will Come)!
Internet of Things have been in the market for a few years now and was widely thought of as a difficult concept due to the complexity of adoption and lack of understanding when it comes to mass deployment. However, IoT seems to be the elixir in the current situation to drive most day-to-day activities that we were taking for granted. This set of technologies that collectively mean "anything connected" have been silently changing the world around us right from the smart bands you wear to sophisticated cars that drive by themselves. Evolution of hardware and cloud technologies have fueled the deployment of electronics across factories, appliances, wearables and automotive to name a few.
While adoption of machines was driven by cost of labour is most of the first world countries, we are facing a completely different circumstance where manual intervention is not desired due to health reasons brought in by the pandemic. What started as a month-long shutdown has extended beyond a year and is not showing any signs of rebate. Vaccine and mass immunisation is the only hope we have. However, the virus has not gone anywhere and is fast mutating. The behaviours that we have been adopting over the past year are here to stay. The new normal is THE normal. The world that we knew pre-2020 is never returning.
Credibility of businesses requiring physical interactions have taken a hit. Salons, Restaurants, Hotels, Tourism etc are seeing lesser footfalls. Businesses are finding ways to operate with less or no-contact. A glimmer of hope is to introduce non-touch and connected services. While connected products are making their way slowly, pandemic has only accelerated the process of mass adoption. Mass adoption of connected devices is dependent on three drivers - Telecom infra-structure, hardware availability and cloud applications. While telecom has made strides in providing GSM connectivity, connected devices also use on Wifi or Bluetooth depending on the type of application.
GSM is typically the long-range connectivity that gets these devices into the inter-net domain while Wifi / Bluetooth works best for applications where internet connectivity is available through a secondary device such as a mobile or wifi router. Availability of affordable processing power and storage on cloud has enabled development of secure and re-liable applications to support on-ground deployment of IoT devices. IoT hardware is typically a processor with specific use case programmed into them and connected to the cloud applications.
Wearables are one of the first mass adopted connected devices - fitness trackers and smart watches are common across most metros today. The next wave of connected devices are the new cars in the market with connectivity built in either for technical data extraction or in some cases intuitive mobile applications to monitor the performance for the end-consumers themselves. Vehicle tracking is a common application of IOT that uses connected devices for logistics tracking, rental vehicle management and in a slightly modified way for ridesharing/taxi mobile applications. Very subtly, all these IOT based applications have permeated our social life in the past few years and changed the way we plan supplies, commute, and expect services.
Such is the power of connected devices as we explore the way they have created massive changes in our behaviour, expectations, and experience services. While pandemic has been harsh, it is only accelerating the adoption of connected devices. Several home appliance makers have launched such connected products and their labs are filled with innovations which are going to make our life easier in the next few years if not months. Connected Home appliances open multiple vistas not just as a fancy gadget with mobile application but also help technicians and manufacturers to understand the end consumer behaviour for the first time ever. These appliances can help the manufacturers to improve their after-sale service experience by being proactive in serving their end customer thereby increase the profitability.
IOT also raises the question of data privacy and protection as it enables collection of an unprecedented amount of data in human history. Technologically, the huge amount of data needs better understanding through artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. IOT is deeply linked with Artificial intelligence and virtual reality as these are the follow-on technologies which will enable IOT deployments yield results through processing and visualisation of the data.
What IOT directly also contributes to is the need for better understanding of ethics and human moral system. While we have not yet fully understood how humans make decisions, IOT / AI are creating situations where machines will need to be devoid of biases and provide actions and decisions that closely resemble what a human being would do. Legislators across the world are already debating the policies and applicability of machines in areas where human ingenuity is required.
IOT opens a world of opportunities for technologists, policy makers and legal professionals. Hardware designers and manufacturers are staring at an explosion of demand for their skills as we move towards a world of automation and connected devices. IOT's time has come to conquer the world and it is already deeply entrenched in your life than you think it is.