The Internet of Things: The Future of Connected Devices

Photo from Eddy WirelessKnown as the “The Internet of Things”, the future of Internet-connected devices has created a lot of buzz as stats and predictions flood the web. As of now, there are more Internet-connected devices than people in the U.S. and roughly two connected devices per person in the world. While that number seems astounding – it is expected to continue to grow rapidly.

According to John Humphreys in Forbes, by 2025 analysts forecast that there will be six devices per human on the planet, meaning we can expect to see 50 billion more connected devices over the next decade.

So what can we expect in the immediate future? Wired’s Thilo Koslowski says we are now – and will continue – to see an evolution of  “The Internet of Cars”. Koslowski says that cars are hear to stay,  and they are certainly going to be connected:

“This isn’t just an evolution of technology-enabled, connected vehicles. This goes beyond self-driving cars. And it’s more than a simple sensor-network: This is the era of smart mobility — an Internet of Cars.

Basically, cars have become the ‘ultimate mobile device’ and we, the people, are becoming ‘connected drivers’. These aren’t just buzzwords: As a longtime strategic adviser and analyst of this space, I’ve been using these terms since 1998 to describe this fundamental transformation of the automobile. And it’s coming within this decade. For example, by 2016, most buyers in mature automotive markets (U.S., Western Europe) will consider vehicles’ ability to access web-based information a key criterion when purchasing an automobile. For premium vehicle brand buyers, this tipping point will be reached even sooner: 2014. That’s just one year away.

The connected vehicle is leading the automotive industry to its most significant innovation phase … since the creation of the automobile itself.

The Era of Smart Mobility Is Going to Change Everything

But what is it? ‘Connected vehicles’ are cars that access, consume, create, enrich, direct, and share digital information between businesses, people, organizations, infrastructures, and things. Those ‘things’ include other vehicles, which is where the Internet of Things becomes the Internet of Cars.

As these vehicles become increasingly connected, they become self-aware, contextual, and eventually, autonomous. Those of you reading this will probably experience self-driving cars in your lifetime — though maybe not all three of its evolutionary phases: from automated to autonomous to unmanned.

We still need to address a number of technology, engineering, legislative, and market issues to develop successful offerings here. But this automotive era builds on current and related industry trends such as the convergence of digital lifestyles, the emergence of new mobility solutions, demographic shifts, and the rise of smartphones and the mobile internet.

Consumers now expect to access relevant information wherever they are … including in the automobile. At the same time, these technologies are making new mobility solutions – such as peer-to-peer car sharing – more widespread and attractive. This is especially important since vehicle ownership in urban areas is expensive and consumers, especially younger ones, don’t show the same desire for vehicle ownership as older generations do.

To be successful, connected vehicles will draw on the leading technologies in sensors, displays, on-board and off-board computing, in-vehicle operating systems, wireless and in-vehicle data communication, machine learning, analytics, speech recognition, and content management. (That’s just to name a few.) All of this leads to considerable benefits and opportunities: reduced accident rates, increased productivity, improved traffic flow, lowered emissions, extended utility for EVs, new entertainment options, and new marketing and commerce experiences.”

Drawing on leading technologies will certainly help connected vehicles to be successful, but even more so thorough in-the-wild testing will yield success. Incorporating highly technical sensors and displays are great, but what really matters is if they can all function correctly under real world conditions. While missed bugs in a mobile app or website are highly problematic, a missed bug in something like a connected car is far more detrimental.  If a connected car was to contain missed bugs or software glitches, the effects could be life-threatening.

Yet, cars aren’t the only connected devices we can expect to see. In fact, as covered in The Technology Review, right now there are major strides being made in connecting transportation, fitness and other aspects of daily life to the Internet:

“Various cities have kitted out their transport networks with sensors that broadcast the position of buses, trams and trains and make this data available to the public.

Various innovative apps now give commuters real-time updates on the position and likely arrival time of their next ride. Other sensors monitor traffic conditions allowing real-time optimisation of traffic flow.

Another example of the emergent Internet of Things is the widespread adoption of sensor technology to monitor sporting performance. Nike+ and FitBit sensors collect data about workouts, send it to a central server which users can then access to analyse their performance. The collection and transmission happens largely without any human intervention.

Then there are the emerging applications aimed at everyday life. Ninja Blocks is an Australian start up that is developing the technology that allows anybody to monitor and control their homes remotely over the internet. They plan to ship their second batch of devices in March.

The message from Zaslavsky and co is that the Internet of Things is coming of age and growing at an exponential rate. If it doesn’t already influence your life in a way you recognize, it soon will.

If you think you already rely on technology a significant amount, just wait until the Internet is a part of everything you touch and interact with in your daily life. As technology advances, and “The Internet of Things” continues to influence our lives, quality and testing will become more and more essential.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

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