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The IoT Ramps Up

Billions and Billions of Things

I smiled yesterday when I saw someone tweet about the discrepancy between an IDC report that siad there will be 23 billion "things" in the IoT by 2020 and a Gartner report that said there will be more than 200 billion. A few people commented, making serious-minded rationalizations about small changes in initial conditions, delta rates, and all that.

The fact of the matter is, nobody knows. Including me. Maybe there will be a trillion IoT things by 2020.

But as I've written before, I don't care. What I do know is that I've seen an interest in the IoT over the past year that trumps anything I've seen during my career - there is a mad rush to understand IoT that exceeds the rush I saw for networking, mobility, and even the wild early days of the Worldwide Web.

As we close in on the final month before this year's Cloud Expo and @thingsexpo in New York June 10-12, I find myself in the midst of IoT discussions all hours of the day.

There are innumerable technology providers getting their IoT strategies and product announcements in order, of course. But equally fascinating to me are the great number of people centered around The Ghent, Belgium-based Internet of Things Council who are attacking the problem of user experience.

A fundamental question is, to what degree is their a user experience? To what degree does IoT mean a robotic collection of masses of real-time Big Data, with automated analysis and feedback systems processing it all?

Security and Privacy
Data security and privacy issues - two separate animals - are also emerging as very serious IoT topics. Clearly, our privacy has been stolen in recent years by so many of the "free" Web services we've become reliant upon, then handed over (whether dutifully or unknowingly) to our federal governments.

Incipient signs of pushback from the major corporations involved in this fiasco are now appearing. Because the only real threat to the IoT, in my view, is its misuse by those who can and will use any and all data against us.

Less of a threat are those who think that the IoT means smart toothbrushes. These people aren't thinking big enough. Think smart meters and smart electrical grids; smart buildings, campuses and cities; smart cars and traffic patterns; and yes, smart retailers and shopping.

If the entire world shopped like me, there would be no retail economy, so I'm not bothered by the Minority Report aspect of ads jumping out at me in malls; I would have to visit a mall more than once a year for this to bug me. But I am bothered by the thoughtcrime glorification in that movie, and hope that one day everyone sees it for the nightmarish, dyspeptic world it envisions.

More cheerfully, I see the IoT igniting a renaissance in high-end manufacturing. A zettabyte can handle 200 million years of video, and we're starting to live in a multi-zettabyte age. Somebody has to build all those processors, routers, cables, and all that storage. This is a golden chance for the United States to reclaim some manufacturing pride, and a similar opportunity for all nations of the world to seize the day and drive the 21st century economic bus.

I hope to see all of you in New York!

Contact Me on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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