There’s a lot of noise at the moment about the Internet of Things (or IoT) and its impact on everything from the way we travel and do our shopping to the way manufacturers keep track of inventory. But what is the Internet of Things? How does it work? And is it really that important?
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is the concept of connecting any device (so long as it has an on/off switch) to the Internet and to other connected devices. The IoT is a giant network of connected things and people – all of which collect and share data about the way they are used and about the environment around them.
That includes an extraordinary number of objects of all shapes and sizes from smart microwave, which automatically cook your food for the right length of time, to self-driving cars, whose complex sensors detect objects in their path, to wearable fitness devices that measure your heart rate and the number of steps you’ve taken that day, then use that information to suggest exercise plans tailored to you. There are even connected footballs that can track how far and fast they are thrown and record those statistics via an app for future training purposes.
1. Smart Home
Smart Home clearly stands out, ranking as highest Internet of Things application on all measured channels. More than 60,000 people currently search for the term “Smart Home” each month. This is not a surprise. The IoT Analytics company database for Smart Home includes 256 companies and start-ups. More companies are active in smart home than any other application in the field of IoT. The total amount of funding for Smart Home start-ups currently exceeds $2.5bn. This list includes prominent start up names such as Nest or Alert Me as well as a number of multinational corporations like Philips, Haier, or Belk in.
Wearable remains a hot topic too. As consumers await the release of Apple’s new smart watch in April 2015, there are plenty of other wearable innovations to be excited about: like the Sony Smart B Trainer, the My gesture control, or Looksee bracelet. Of all the IoT start-ups, wearable maker Jawbone is probably the one with the biggest funding to date. It stands at more than half a billion dollars!
3. Smart City
Smart city spans a wide variety of use cases, from traffic management to water distribution, to waste management, urban security and environmental monitoring. Its popularity is fuelled by the fact that many Smart City solutions promise to alleviate real pains of people living in cities these days. IoT solutions in the area of Smart City solve traffic congestion problems, reduce noise and pollution and help make cities safer.
4. Smart grids
Smart grids are a special one. A future smart grid promises to use information about the behaviours of electricity suppliers and consumers in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, and economics of electricity. 41,000 monthly Google searches highlights the concept’s popularity. However, the lack of tweets (Just 100 per month) shows that people don’t have much to say about it.
5. Industrial internet
The industrial internet is also one of the special Internet of Things applications. While many market researches such as Gartner or Cisco see the industrial internet as the IoT concept with the highest overall potential, its popularity currently doesn’t reach the masses like smart home or wearable do. The industrial internet however has a lot going for it. The industrial internet gets the biggest push of people on Twitter (~1,700 tweets per month) compared to other non-consumer-oriented IoT concepts.
6. Connected car
The connected car is coming up slowly. Owing to the fact that the development cycles in the automotive industry typically take 2-4 years, we haven’t seen much buzz around the connected car yet. But it seems we are getting there. Most large auto makers as well as some brave start-ups are working on connected car solutions. And if the BMWs and Fords of this world don’t present the next generation internet connected car soon, other well-known giants will: Google, Microsoft, and Apple have all announced connected car platforms.
7. Connected Health (Digital health/Telehealth/Telemedicine)
Connected health remains the sleeping giant of the Internet of Things applications. The concept of a connected health care system and smart medical devices bears enormous potential (see our analysis of market segments), not just for companies also for the well-being of people in general. Yet, Connected Health has not reached the masses yet. Prominent use cases and large-scale startup successes are still to be seen. Might 2015 bring the breakthrough?
8. Smart retail
Proximity-based advertising as a subset of smart retail is starting to take off. But the popularity ranking shows that it is still a niche segment. One LinkedIn post per month is nothing compared to 430 for smart home.
9. Smart supply chain
Supply chains have been getting smarter for some years already. Solutions for tracking goods while they are on the road, or getting suppliers to exchange inventory information have been on the market for years. So while it is perfectly logic that the topic will get a new push with the Internet of Things, it seems that so far its popularity remains limited.
10. Smart Farming
Smart farming is an often overlooked business-case for the internet of Things because it does not really fit into the well-known categories such as health, mobility, or industrial. However, due to the remoteness of farming operations and the large number of livestock that could be monitored the Internet of Things could revolutionize the way farmers work. But this idea has not yet reached large-scale attention. Nevertheless, one of the Internet of Things applications that should not be underestimated. Smart farming will become the important application field in the predominantly agricultural-product exporting countries