Mention that you’re involved in Internet of Things (IoT), and your calendar will immediately fill up with press and analyst discussions. Everyone is talking about the IoT, and they’re looking for insights on how the market will grow.

 

Given the amount of interest, questions about it were flowing this month at the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF), which brought more than 2,000 attendees together to share and learn about the latest trends in our industry. There were several incredible demos at FTF, from RF technology that cooks fish in a block of ice, an electric luxury car, a professional performance system, and glasses that help some of the 246 million visually impaired see. Here are a few questions that I was asked – not by a single person, but by many different analysts and customers.

 

What’s the next great IoT device?

Well, if I knew that, I’d probably be in Las Vegas. But, as with all business ventures, “follow the money.” Markets with size and scale, where IoT innovations will create new opportunities and entrants.  Look at SteadyServ’s iKeg system.  A VERY popular demo, it continuously measures the weight, and therefore the consumption rate, of beer kegs for large bars, restaurants and hotels. Combine that information in the cloud with weather and other data, and they can more effectively manage their inventory.   Hot temperatures, maybe a large event coming to town, all could affect the consumption rate.  Market size?  The draft beer business in the USA is larger than the mobile phone industry!

 

With the devices, sensors and computing power that cover consumer, business and industrial and government markets, estimates for the IoT market value are massive. To illustrate how pervasive the IoT will be in our daily lives, we created a demonstration platform, the IoT Experience, and it was shown at FTF with applications for healthcare, wearables, smart energy, smart cities, smart home, and automotive.

 

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The real impact of IoT will not be the things we see. Consumer focused items get a lot of press since people can see and relate to them.  But it will be the things that we don’t see, seamlessly integrated into our world, that drive efficiency and innovation in business.  Those are what will be the true impact of IoT.

 

How will the IoT market grow around the world?

We had several media attendees from India and China, and their questions were very insightful. If you’re in the US, Europe, China, India – anywhere in the world – there are universal areas that IoT will have a huge impact.  Segments like water, energy, agriculture, traffic, city infrastructure, and medical will benefit everyone. Clean water, better medical care, and more food produced per acre are not unique to any single region.

 

What about privacy and security?

Ah, the question that I think is one of the most important. Privacy and security are two very different issues. Security is about ensuring that the data gets from its origin to the cloud (or other end point) without being altered or intercepted. Privacy is how that data is used in ways that may or may not be how it was intended. And the world of big data is not just using these single pieces of data, multiple and seeming unrelated items for prediction and analytics. How the industry manages these areas may certainly determine how fast the IoT market grows.

 

Will we see branding on IoT devices like we see on PCs?

I found this to be an interesting question, and one that didn’t really comprehend the types and breadth of products that are forming the IoT. Look at a PC, and you’ll see a NASCAR-like array of stickers and decals from various suppliers, touting their role in bringing you that product. The IoT market is very different from the PC-tablet-cell phone market. Those have a certain continuity of hardware, software and ecosystem. They’ll play a part, but the IoT is about vast arrays of intelligent devices, incorporated seamlessly into their environment.  And many will be small, so there won’t even be room for a decal.

 

So, FTF Americas is a wrap, and we’re looking forward to FTF China in May. IoT will continue to be the hot topic, and there did seem to be an understanding that it’s not a new trend, but one that has been developing for a while.  It’s just that now we have a name for it.

 

Steve Nelson is director of marketing programs.