The Internet of Things (IoT) is a very broad term. I guess that’s to be expected when one of the terms used in the name is as generic as “stuff”, but there’s a good reason for that. The IoT is more of an idea than an actual technology — the idea of connecting multiple devices through the use of sensors and the Cloud. As an idea that’s currently being tested all around the globe in many different industries, one must wonder how successful it really is with our current level of technology. If I were to give it a build, I’d call it Internet of Things Alpha right now.
Why are we in the “Alpha” phase still?
Alpha is used to describe the earliest workable build. It’s definitely not ready for release and has a lot of testing and improvements still to be made. Now, before you go thinking this is the Internet of Things fault, it isn’t. Believe it or not, our tech just isn’t keeping up well with everything the IoT can be.
The best example of this is a recent trend — the little smartbox listening systems like the Echo. Last year, a colleague of mine bought one with every expectation that this little device would save a few minutes each day by checking bus times, setting calendar reminders, and even doing the odd “googling” when she needed it. At first, it worked pretty well! It did the tasks she needed and she was satisfied. Today, she’s selling it.
When I asked why, as I’d thought it was working great for her, she said she just never really used it except to check bus times. The reason she gave was because she had to keep asking the same thing to get a result. It rarely understood her. It’s no fault of the IoT here that the Echo, but the technology around it. Even though the device had the capability to do what the user wanted, it just couldn’t understand.
What’s working in the IoT, then?
Simple is better. Currently the biggest successes within IoT-enabled systems are the less complex devices. These include things like baby monitors, thermostats, locks, and various production-assisting systems in companies. They work well because they’re building on technology we’ve been using for decades over technology we’re still developing and improving upon.
Don’t get me wrong, newer tech can definitely still be useful, but when it comes to the IoT, there’s a lot left to be developed and going to far too fast might just come back to bite a smaller company in the end.
The truth of the matter is that the IoT is already proven. It’s a system that works and has many benefits in the years to come, but we need to focus equally on developing our other technology along with the IoT. All the sensors in the world won’t help if your device thinks you’re saying “sandwich” rather than “search for”.