What's Next for IoT?

VP, Head of Technology
Ali Alkhafaji

April 27, 2016

It happened with personal computers and the World Wide Web. Soon after, came email. Next were social networks, smart phones and smart watches, and it will inevitably happen with the Internet of Things. Here's a hint: I’m talking about  personalization, the next transformation within the internet-connected devices industry.

How we got here?

In recent years, IoT has shifted from being a hypothetical revolution into a definite reality. The forecast has always been surreal, whether it was Gartner’s prediction of 26 billion IoT devices by 2020 or Intel’s prediction of 200 billion in the same time period. Both theories dwarf the estimated 5 billion devices today, a number that has already doubled in size every year since 2010. These are dream-like numbers in a very insatiable industry. Consequently, Cisco estimates the IoT industry at $14 trillion in 2022, almost as high as the U.S. GDP.

With an industry expanding at this rate and devices being introduced daily, what can we assume will be driving consumer demand? And inherently connected to that driving force, what will be the differentiating factor for consumers to increase revenue for organizations? I don't pretend to possess a crystal ball, nor do I know the future, but if history of technology disruption repeats itself, then the answer is most certainly personalization.

Wait a minute, personalization?

The most natural response to that claim is: I thought the nature of IoT devices was intrinsically to enable personalization? You can unlock your garage door remotely and set the temperature in your house, how is that not personalization?

Welcome to the new user experience

Well…it is. But the type of personalization I am suggesting is superior and far more powerful.

As a colleague of mine once described it to me, it is the type of personalization that is implicit and predictive. It’s not just configuring a connected-device in your house or your car. It goes beyond that. I am talking about the type of personalization where your connected-devices identify and parse your voice in the middle of a crowded party to turn on the lights or turn down the stereo. I am talking about a GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) enabled smart watch, which can detect an increase in body perspiration through a reduced skin resistance to electric current and communicate this information to the thermostat in your house. I am talking about a refrigerator that senses you are running low on milk and maps that to an algorithm calculated by perceiving your eating pattern to decide when to order you a new carton.

These ideas probably sound farcical and extremely futuristic, but the reality is that none of them are that far off. In fact, the technology to achieve everything mentioned in those examples is available today. It just needs to be commercialized and produced in mass quantities for consumers. The future is here, and what is even more amazing to consider is how personalization will be enhanced through a technology that is even yet to come. I, for one, cannot wait.