Internet of Things: Envisioning an Even More Interconnected World

While we’re not exactly living in the times of Marty McFly or George Jetson, our world is quickly becoming smarter and more interconnected, thanks to the rapidly growing Internet of Things sector.  Internet of Things, or IoT, is a concept in which everyday objects—from home appliances to vehicles– are connected to the Internet and can be controlled remotely.  Similar to how we put our computers in “sleep” mode today, we will soon be able to put entire households or even cities in a resting or connected mode, which has enormous environmental implications like reduced energy use and increased efficiency. Some IoT devices have already shown energy cost savings of over $170 per year. Beyond environmental impacts, IOT could be a game changer on how we live and work in a modernized world.

Streetline, a US-based company that has already received over $59 million in capital, provides smart parking solutions through wireless sensors located in parking spots in order to reduce congestion and emissions used while looking for parking spots.  The company’s experts explain that 30% of urban traffic is caused by people looking for parking, and one study even showed that 730 tons of carbon dioxide were wasted on parking in a yearlong Los Angeles study. [1]

SmartThings has received $16 million in funding by developing a home monitoring and control platform for mobile devices.  The platform sets rules to automatically lock doors or turn off lights, electronics, and thermostat at different times, or when not needed. Cisco estimates that for companies that can successfully take advantage of IoT, $19 trillion in economic value is available for private businesses and $4.6 trillion for the global public sector as a result of cost savings, increased productivity, and new revenues. [2]

Until recently, the largest hurdle facing the market has been the ability to get all of the pieces and parts to communicate with all of the other pieces and parts.  Different devices often talk in disparate languages and make connections using a variety of communication networks such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, making it progressively difficult to integrate devices across one platform.  Thread, a newly launched nonprofit, is hoping to change that.  With seven other companies, including Google’s Nest, Silicon Labs and Samsung, Thread Group has announced a new mesh networking protocol that could provide customers with the open systems that they demand.  Thread hopes that this will help users customize their own hardware they want to integrate throughout the same network, and a version of Thread is already installed in Nest products.  The nonprofit offers four main standards in its new standard: reliable networks, secure networks, simple connectivity, and low power.

With this exciting announcement, we expect to see sectors including transportation, energy efficiency, and agriculture & food to be transformed by the advent of real-time connectivity and communication.  As billions of sensors are placed around the globe, we can begin to eradicate some of our world’s most pressing problems by better understanding how the world operates.  See you soon, Jetsons.