We are seeing a lot of smart things appearing on the Internet of Things. A smart refrigerator, a smart thermostat, a smart TV, smart homes, and even smart cities are appearing. But much of the growth we have expected in the IoT will come from wearable technology.
There is no doubt that the IoT is going to get really big. Gartner predicts that it will be a $1.9 trillion global industry by 2020. By then, there will be 26 billion IoT devices installed, or 30 times the installed base of around 900,000 million in 2009.
IDC is saying pretty much the same thing, only it foresees higher numbers. It says the IoT will become a $8.9 trillion market comprising around 212 billion things by 2020.
Many of these things will be consumer devices. Check out some of the applications that we have seen so far.
- A basketball that lets you keep track of your game: Are you dribbling the ball too hard? Do you have too much arc in your shots? The nine sensors inside the 94 Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball can collect everything you need to know about your dribbles and shots. It sends the data to your smartphone over a Bluetooth LE connection to be processed by the 94 Fifty mobile app. The app also will set up timed exercises for you to develop muscle memory. It will correct your shots or dribble until you move almost by instinct. Hopefully, you can replicate the process in a real game.
- Connected cars that let manufacturers offer value-added features: You can get diagnostic advice, safety and security tools, and infotainment features. Beyond that, the IoT can help you in an emergency. When you get into an accident, a sensor will know if your airbag has been deployed and will call 911, even if you are unconscious. It can also transmit your GPS data to the 911 dispatcher.
- Smart device controls: Archos is using Bluetooth LE to help you track your devices at home. An app would show you the status and history of each sensor you have at home. You can control the temperature in the next room without going there. You could even check if you left any doors unlocked or windows opened without having to leave your bed. The app also lets you program a series of actions. For example, if your main door is opened while nobody is home, you can have it turn on the light, take a photo of the person entering, or sound the alarm.
This year, Google snatched up the smart thermostat maker Nest. Its device uses sensors to reprogram itself, depending on user behavior. Google’s move is seen as a testament to how it sees the IoT as something important and big.
However, Google knows that the money is in wearable technology. Technically speaking, wearable tech is a great example of the IoT. A fitness tracker has sensors to keep track of the number of steps you take, how long you have been sleeping, and your overall activity for the day. A smart camera can use its accelerometer to tell if it is upside down, so the pictures you take will always be right side up. A smartwatch can have sensors help pinpoint your location. Wearable technology is simply one kind of device involved in the IoT.
And it is a great member of the family, too. Consumer electronics are a big part of our everyday lives. In fact, if you were introducing somebody to the IoT concept, you would do well to use a wearable device as an example. In short, wearable technology makes the IoT familiar to consumers.
What’s more, it is getting cheaper and cheaper to include sensors and connectivity options in everyday things. And with all the features and functionalities it adds to, say, the common wristwatch, it makes no sense why you should leave it out.
But what makes wearable technology very important to the IoT is that is can attract the right market. Teenagers will not concern themselves so much with smart thermostats, but they surely will pay attention to the Samsung Galaxy Gear. These are devices they would likely use. And this is the reason big names like Google, Apple, and Microsoft are attracted to the wearable technology market. Even companies like Nike and Adidas are paying attention.
With all of these factors, there is no doubt that much of the growth we have expected in the IoT will come from wearable technology.