As a new year begins, it’s fun to think ahead. I enjoyed writing my predictions and resolutions for the year. Why stop there, though? I wonder: what will the tech landscape look like ten years from now? It’s clear to me that the tech story of the next ten years is going to be the story of the Internet of Things and its related pools of data.
The capacity of the IoT to connect our lives in increasingly “smart” ways is truly limitless. Right now, though, we are still managing our technology, programming our devices to our preferences. This will change over the next decade as our devices get smarter and require less input from us. Will these devices intuit what we need based on data gathered through the cloud? I believe so. I believe that our homes will grow smart enough that they’ll know to turn on lights as we approach or to adjust heat settings depending on the preferences of who’s in the house at a given time. Nest already offers a “learning thermostat” that comes aware of a family’s preferences. Next, systems like Nest will learn to adjust those preferences specific to the home’s occupancy at a given time.
All of these IoT features will be visible and controllable in real-time or for future programming on our mobile devices. Already, some kitchen appliances are coming on-board. My friend has an Instant Pot pressure cooker that connects to her wireless network through Bluetooth, allowing her to program and monitor what she’s cooking remotely through her smartphone or iPad. She monitors dinner while walking her dog!
Data that products like Nest and Instant Pot and thousands of other devices collect will breed developments in IoT that we haven’t even imagined yet. Data from devices like FitBit that count our steps and that also monitor our sleep, data from blood pressure cuffs that send readings to our doctors and to apps, and data from our babies’ changing pads all make up a profile of our wellness that will yield lives of more informed choices and conveniences. Imagine how physicians who manage our healthcare will have the ability to view more and more consistent data on many facets of our health: blood pressure, fitness, sleep, nutrition, and more. While some folks will worry about the “big brother” implications of such monitoring, I focus on how very many lives this could stand to save. The way the IoT stands to improve our healthcare possibilities and our general health and wellness is exciting to consider.
In addition to home management system data and healthcare data, it’s easy to conceive that our cars’ systems will be able to interact with our mobile lives as well, reporting everything from fuel statistics to maintenance needs to us, to our mechanics, and to manufacturers seeking to improve with each iteration. With increased movement toward electric cars with their related charging needs for their batteries, statistics will need to be known in real-time. Improvements in all facets of this technology, from batteries to their charging stations to the communication of this data, are advancing rapidly. With Tesla’s forthcoming “Powerwall” battery for homes, this kind of technology and related monitoring already is leaping from our cars to our homes and offices.
There are many more examples of the IoT’s dramatic increase in possibility and scale. For example, with cable companies and entertainment providers like Netflix now integrating seamlessly to our mobile devices as well, and since books have been available for download for quite a long time already, a lot of the work ahead in improving the IoT will be focused on making these devices less breakable, lighter, more portable, and more ubiquitous. Will we still be carrying phones, tablets, and laptops ten years from now? I doubt it. Enhanced integration of these devices is in our future.
It’s hard to imagine where I’ll be in ten years. Wherever any of us are, though, we’ll be relying increasingly on devices that are among the Internet of Things. As an executive in charge of innovation for my company, I can’t wait to welcome these exciting changes that lie ahead.