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You’ve likely heard the term “Internet of Things” at some point from a colleague, an article, or an advertisement. But the term is broad and can cover an overwhelming amount of information.
In short, the Internet of Things refers to the rapidly growing network of connected objects that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. Thermostats, cars, lights, refrigerators, and more appliances can all be connected to the IoT.
Business Insider Intelligence forecasts that there will be more than 64 billion IoT devices installed around the world by 2026.
To help clarify how the Internet of Things works, we’ve laid out some applications for the IoT, along with some specific devices and examples.
Applications of the Internet of Things
- Smart Home: The smart home is likely the most popular IoT application at the moment because it is the one that is most affordable and readily available to consumers. From the Amazon Echo to the Nest Thermostat, there are hundreds of products on the market that users can control with their voices to make their lives more connected than ever.
- Wearables: Watches are no longer just for telling time. The Apple Watch and other smartwatches on the market have turned our wrists into smartphone holsters by enabling text messaging, phone calls, and more. And devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone have helped revolutionize the fitness world by giving people more data about their workouts.
- Smart Cities: The IoT has the potential to transform entire cities by solving real problems citizens face each day. With the proper connections and data, the Internet of Things can solve traffic congestion issues and reduce noise, crime, and pollution.
- Connected Car: These vehicles are equipped with Internet access and can share that access with others, just like connecting to a wireless network in a home or office. More vehicles are starting to come equipped with this functionality, so prepare to see more apps included in future cars.
Internet of Things Devices & Examples
- Amazon Echo – Smart Home: The Amazon Echo works through its voice assistant, Alexa, which users can talk to in order to perform a variety of functions. Users can tell Alexa to play music, provide a weather report, get sports scores, order an Uber, and more.
- Fitbit Charge 3 – Wearables: The Fitbit Charge 3 tracks your steps, floors climbed, calories burned, and sleep quality. The device also wirelessly syncs with computers and smartphones in order to transmit your fitness data in understandable charts to monitor your progress.
- Barcelona – Smart Cities: The Spanish city is one of the foremost smart cities in the world after it implemented several IoT initiatives that have helped enhance smart parking and the environment.
- AT&T – Connected Car: AT&T was the first telecom company to open a connected car research and innovation center. As of the end of Q3 2018, it had 24 million connected cars on its network.
Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, is keeping its finger on the pulse of this ongoing revolution by conducting our third annual Global IoT Executive Survey, which provides us with critical insights on the most pivotal new developments within the IoT and explains how top-level perspectives are changing year to year. Our survey includes nearly 400 responses from key executives around the world, including C-suite and director-level respondents.
Through this exclusive study and in-depth research into the field, Business Insider Intelligence details the components that make up the IoT ecosystem. We size the IoT market and use exclusive data to identify key trends in the connected devices sector. And we profile the enterprise, governmental, and consumer IoT segments individually, drilling down into the drivers and characteristics that are shaping each market.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- We project that there will be more than 64 billion IoT devices by 2026, up from about 10 billion in 2018.
- Blockchain within the IoT is still generally the provenance of startups, and they’re populating the marketplace with products that take advantage of the technology’s characteristics. It’s not going to upend the IoT, despite the technology’s much-ballyhooed potential. And respondents to our survey of IoT providers seem, for the most part, to understand this. Just a small percentage think that blockchain will become a universal standard in the IoT. The vast majority said that blockchain will either be a tool that most companies employ at times, or a niche product that only certain solutions use.
- Lightning-fast 5G networks will change how telecommunications shapes business and will also offer new and transformative possibilities in the IoT space. The new standard will further increase the appeal of cellular solutions in the areas where it’s available. And that’s why nearly half of IoT providers said they’re planning to introduce support for 5G networks to their solutions within the next two years.
- The report highlights the opinions and experiences of IoT decision-makers on topics that include: drivers for adoption; major challenges and pain points; deployment and maturity of IoT implementations; investment in and utilization of devices; the decision-making process; and forward- looking plans.
In full, the report:
- Provides a primer on the basics of the IoT ecosystem.
- Offers forecasts for the IoT moving forward, and highlights areas of interest in the coming years.
- Looks at who is and is not adopting the IoT, and why.
- Highlights drivers and challenges facing companies that are implementing IoT solutions.
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