The IoT: Where we’ll be in 5/10/20 years’ time

By: Jon Kennard

27, September, 2016


Connected Living - Featured - Wearables -

IStock Futuristic Lady

According to the World Economic Forum, security will be key to IoT development, but how else will the Internet of Things change our society? A look to the future and we’ll find out…

2021: Set two years after Blade Runner, could we be looking at an era of synthetic humans (complete with spin-off black market for body parts) and dystopian vistas punctuated with pyramid citadels inhabited by billionaire tech oligarchs? Unlikely, but…

Aside from the retro-futuristic architecture, we’re not too far from some aspects of Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic. Unbelievable only five years away, 2021 will see a continuation of much of the tech being embedded into our lives now, with all the usual performance improvements: smaller, faster, lighter. But – as Blade Runner’s vision of the future also depicts, life will not immediately be simpler and more efficient. Legacy infrastructure will coexist with new technology. In the opening scenes, we meet Rick Deckard reading a newspaper in the rain, sheltered and lit by the gaudy neon lights of a restaurant/internet cafe, surrounded by people scurrying back and forth using umbrellas modified so the stem also acts as a strip light. It’s a decent encapsulation of how society could partly adapt to IoT developments in the near future. Existing tech retrofitted to work in an IoT-enabled world, one populated by people of all ages, backgrounds and techno-literacy, many of whom have their habits that they plan to stick to, thanks very much, with a world fast changing around them. Many of the problems of modern life will persist, such as hygiene, waste and overpopulation, but even these problems have the potential to be eradicated through smart city solutions.

Let’s move on.

2026: We failed our 2020 carbon emissions targets, but in an attempt to claw back some of the damage done, funding for electric vehicles will be accelerated in the US, Canada and Australia. With this will come the possibility of driverless car fleets too, and having passed the rigorous safety guidelines and under strict regulation, autonomous vehicles will drive among us. Legacy formats such as Compact Discs will vanish, with the vinyl market only propped up by Gen Z, a tactile, face-to-face-friendly generation, reacting against their networked parents and grandparents. Supply Chain and IIoT will have been completely transformed, with most assembly line and plant workers retrained in data logistics. Training happens anywhere now, at the point of need through smartphones, smart contact lenses and other HUDs. Iris scan technology has abolished the need for two-step identification and other methods like chip and pin and contactless, and most industries are now paperless. The legal profession is hit hard by this shift and the intelligent dictation industry has consequently mushroomed. Cybersecurity companies are implementing DNA and fingerprint recognition tech at scale for home security and automotive, as well as other applications such as airport security, school lockers and retail payments. The fashion industry has responded by creating clothes made out of smart fabric that monitor heart rate, adrenalin, glucose, sweat and hydration – and can also unlock doors. No clothes have pockets: after all, you don’t need a phone, wallet or keys anymore.

Healthcare has moved to a fully patient-centric model now, because advances in wearables mean diagnosis takes place way before healthcare professionals need to intervene, and thanks to innovative partnerships with local authorities, most citizens have a health wristband (for those who can’t afford smart clothing or iris scanner interfaces). Government departments are leaner with flatter structures, and decisions are reached far more swiftly through automated citizen data analysis.

Ten years on from that…

2036: Every new home that’s built must be IoT enabled by law. In fact, the Internet of Things is dead (as a term), because everything is IoT compatible. The idea of a standalone object that can’t interact with its environment is quaint, and the subject of various retro programmes on FaceTube. Telecoms companies will move into the hardware space and tech companies will move into communications. We will see plenty more mergers and acquisitions, not just within similar industry verticals but also across different industries, as companies seek to leverage their connectivity capabilities across the wider IoT spectrum. What the market will lose in competition it will gain in compatibility as one company using its own device protocol across more areas of IoT will be better for the IoT ecosystem. An alternative to this will be led by open source programmers who will look to develop communications standards that allow different brands to develop devices, objects and systems that all work seamlessly together, regardless.

2021 is only round the corner, and we can only dream of the bigger advances in the next five years, but in terms of building on what’s happening now, isn’t it fascinating to see the IoT move from theory through to practice to recognition to acceptance? Eventually, it will be our everyday lives.

Author: Jon Kennard

(c) iStock: eternalcreative