Global IoT survey: We want driverless cars and our bodies connected to the web

People don’t want connected watches and glasses as much as they would want their bodies online, a new study suggests.

The study was carried out by Element14, a distributor of technology products and solutions for electronic system design, maintenance and repair. Named 'Engineering a connected world,' the study asked 3,500 adults living in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America how the connected devices of the future will impact the way we interact with the world around us.

This report uncovers consumer attitudes towards the current and future direction of the Internet of Things, highlighting the areas of our lives where people believe technology and innovation should be focused, the report says, adding that the technology should be focused on healthcare, renewable energy and the environment.

Healthcare leads the way

The regions are largely unanimous in their top five areas of focus, with the exception of Australia where education is considered a more important issue than the environment.

Healthcare with 68 per cent, renewable energy with 66, the environment with 56, education with 44 and agriculture with 25 per cent are the top five areas of focus in the regions.

Another interesting question the study asked everyone is which device they would want connected the most. The results are somewhat surprising because it is not glasses, sneakers or watches they want online. They want themselves.

Two thirds of respondents said that they would like to connect themselves directly to the internet, with 23 per cent also looking to connect their kids.

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Clothing is also an important battlefront for internet connected devices. With 170 million wearables expected to be sold by 2016, smart clothing is widely considered the forefront of the Internet of Things.

Everyone wants an electric car

However, it’s interesting to see the numbers on sold smartwatches. Of those surveyed, only 6 per cent of US and UK consumers have actually purchased a smartwatch. Furthermore, four out of five of these consumers have no intention of buying a smartwatch in the next five years.

For now, the majority of wearable adoption is being driven by the Asian market, with consumers in India being twice as likely to buy a smartwatch as those in the UK.

While there is a lot of interest in flexible and wearable tech, electric cars are the clear favourite for 2015. In fact, more than half of respondents would like to see electric vehicles ‘go mainstream’ by the end of the year. From those asked, 61 per cent either own or plan to have an internet-connected car.

Internet of Things is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices.

Changing the world for the better

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The concept of the Internet of Things first became popular in 1999, through the Auto-ID Center at MIT and related market-analysis publications. According to Gartner, Inc. (a technology research and advisory corporation), there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020, and ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things by 2020.

The breakthrough of the Internet of Things has completely changed the way we perceive technology. The study suggests that we are growing “evermore at ease with technology that infiltrates our daily lives”.

However, we are now more interested in using this technology to change our lives for the better, rather than just enjoy the entertainment it can bring.

“People are now looking to use connected devices to change their lives for the better - focusing on everything from healthcare to renewable energy,” the report concludes.

Richard Curtin, Senior Director of Strategic Supplier Development at Farnell element14 commented: “The findings of this poll demonstrate that consumers are passionate about innovations that have the potential to make genuinely positive changes in our world. From healthcare and sustainability to transport and education, concepts that once seemed like science fiction are already becoming commonplace. Soon, technologies such as driverless cars and universal high speed internet will join them.

"Healthcare, renewable energy and the environment in particular are top priority areas where our respondents feel innovation should focus. This piece of information is invaluable in the fast changing technology sector.

"It is through studies such as this that we can ensure our product proposition reflects the priorities of our customer base, while it also enables us to connect our engineers to powerful new ideas.”