Great things have been predicted for the Internet of Things (IoT), with many analysts suggesting that the coming growth in connected devices will have a monumental impact on the way we live our lives.
Although, the number of smart objects is relatively limited in the consumer market, restricted to thermostats and expensive connected light bulbs, Gartner predicts that 25 billion IoT devices will be in use by 2020.
Although consumers will ultimately have to embrace these new products, it is first the task of technology firms to create and develop the IoT market. Therefore, as today marks the fifth annual International IoT Day, we’ve listed the five companies that are currently driving the Internet of Things revolution.
Intel, one of the world’s largest chip manufacturers, is backing the Internet of Things in a big way and it’s not surprising considering the way the firm missed out on the smartphone industry.
The US firm allowed its competitors, such as ARM, to dominate the mobile market and is now playing catch up, missing out on millions of potential revenue streams. Current CEO Brian Krzanich is keen that his company don’t miss out again and is now focusing on developing low-energy chips for connected devices.
Intel now has its own R&D labs dedicated to the Internet of Things and is working on a diverse range of projects, including smart buildings that consume less energy, a traffic analytics camera and an air pollution monitoring system.
Intel has also created its own IoT Development Kit covering all phases of the development cycle, enabling students, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs to create the next big IoT product.
Google signalled its intent in the IoT market with the purchase of Nest last year for $3.2 billion (£2.2 billion), but the search engine is looking beyond smart thermostats too.
Google is also one of the key players in the development of connected vehicles. Fully autonomous cars may be a few years away yet, but they will certainly have a major impact, affecting inner-city traffic, insurance policies, law, the taxi industry and many other aspects of our lives.
The search engine firm has also been quick to realise that IoT devices can only thrive if the software infrastructure underpinning them is simple and easy to use. With that in mind, Google recently announced an experimental projects called “The Physical Web.”
The Physical Web is open source and seeks to make connected objects as user-friendly as possible.
“The Physical Web is an approach to unleash the core superpower of the web: interaction on demand,” Google explains. “People should be able to walk up to any smart device - a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car - and not have to download an app first. Everything should be just a tap away.
Microsoft is another technology giant looking to take advantage of the predicted IoT boom to compensate for a less than ideal position in the smartphone market.
Firstly, the company is keen to make its Azure cloud computing service the go-to platform for IoT devices, with a bespoke suite of IoT tools and Quick Start consultation sessions to help businesses understand if the Internet of Things is right for them and what value it can add.
Azure’s IoT services have already proven useful for managed monitoring and support for oil refinery business Rockwell Automation. The implementation of the Internet of Things has already helped the business improve efficiency, drive better performance and enable further innovation.
Microsoft is also targeting other clients, including Jeep Wrangler, where IoT technology is helping to operate the firm’s manufacturing plants, connected car manufacturers and elevator firms.
With many more devices online, the infrastructure powering them must be more robust than ever before. With that in mind, Cisco is one of the key players in developing and managing the network equipment that will be key to IoT growth.
Cisco is working with businesses to help converge unrelated networks, achieve efficient scalability and prepare for the increase in the amount of data and analytics.
"Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before - turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries."
The Internet of Things is sure to be disruptive for many industries, so businesses must have the network infrastructure in place to cope with the oncoming change.
Samsung intensified its assault on the IoT space with the purchase of US-startup SmartThings in August of last year. It remains to be seen what SmartThings’ open platform for the smart home will bring to Samsung’s IoT portfolio, but the South Korean firm already has a number of connected devices available for consumers.
Samsung’s range of smart home products encompasses the living room, kitchen, office and bedroom and includes a fridge with a built-in LCD TV so you don’t have to miss any of your favourite shows and voice activated TV sets.
Read more: The brilliant disruptive potential of IoT
Away from connected appliances, Samsung’s strong position in the smartphone market and its range of wearable devices mean that is will surely play a key role in the advancement of IoT products.