Internet of Things World 2016 took place in Santa Clara this week, and it was a great way to see what people are working on and thinking about in IoT today. Thousands of people represented the industry by speaking in keynotes, debating in panels and showing off their products at exhibition booths. Due to the enormity of the conference, I was only able to participate in a fraction of the activities; but I learned a lot. Here are my takeaways from the conference:
- People were excited to see the amount of participation. Apparently the number of companies displaying IoT solutions increased immensely from last year, and people were excited to see the noticeable growing interest and developments in the field.
- More than half of the IoT companies represented at the expo were IoT platforms providing end-to-end software solutions from device monitoring to data storage and analytics. Though it was great seeing so many companies attempting to create a framework for developers to build IoT solutions, it did not seem like a lot of these platform companies were able to differentiate themselves from each other. If you are planning on developing an IoT platform, you better make sure it provides a unique value to end users, as this seems to be a very crowded market occupied by both startups and large technology companies.
- Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, I liked that there was so much focus on protocols, gateways, networks and security. It can be easy and more fun to just build out the end hardware solutions, but it was evident that there is a serious focus on putting the right technologies in place to ensure data from smart devices can be communicated quickly, stored, and cannot be compromised. We certainly have a ways to go here, but it was obvious that network capability and security is being taken seriously.
- As expected after CES, you can see the jump in companies attempting to provide a software solution for connected cars. There were a variety of car software platforms aiming to extract and analyze data to measure driving habits for both the driver and their insurance company to use, to measure vehicle health for maintenance, and to connect your car to the rest of your life. Though I like the concept of these platforms, they seem unrefined at this point. I wonder if by the time someone creates a solution that bring real value to the driver; will we begin to enter the autonomous car revolution, making these driver analytics irrelevant?
- In the ever-evolving world of smart wearables, there seems to be a consensus that the next area of focus is in smart glasses. The goal here is to replace the forced movement of a person tapping a button on their phone with natural eye movements through their smart glasses. This will allow people to gather data about their environment by using more natural interactions. There were quite a few use cases presented in the industrial field such as reading the status and attributes of a piece of machinery just by looking at it. The same technology can be used in law enforcement to gather information about people by looking at them. This seems a little Terminator-ish, but in the short term, companies are basically leveraging augmented reality to solve the challenges that derailed Google Glass.
- Looking a little further into the future, there are a lot of efforts being made to develop implanted devices in people, 3D printed organs, and humanoids to perform people’s mundane tasks such as cooking and cleaning.
- On the business side things, quite a few people are voicing their concern about the fact that these so-called connected devices are not quite connecting with each other as initially hoped because every company is creating a proprietary solution using their own app. Though it is nice to hear some voicing this concern, it does bother me that you are not seeing this being accounted for in the actions of IoT companies. It seems like every company wants to be “the” front facing solution. Companies need to start embracing the fact that their product might just be a small piece of something larger. Every company cannot be the advertised owner of an IoT solution. These pieces need to work together in somewhat equal parts to create the connected solutions we need. Just like in the NBA, there needs to be a shift in thinking from having the star player dominate the ball and get all the glory, to a fast paced team oriented approach where everyone selflessly does there part. Technology aside, IoT has a long way to go in its business approach if we are ever going to get to a point where the devices around us are truly connected.
IoT World 2016 was fun and informative! It was great seeing industry leaders put their minds together in an effort to come up with joint outcomes. If you attended the event, please share your experience!