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A look ahead for IoT: What’s next in 2016?

In 2015, the Internet of Things (IoT) developed significantly and saw increased interest from a range of industries. A whole host of new IoT devices emerged, especially in the wearable sector. In fact, the global market for wearable devices grew by 223 per cent. FitBit shipped 4.4 million devices, and Apple sold 3.6 million Apple Watches.

IoT also fuelled important advances in healthcare in 2015, including the continuing development of IoT devices to monitor the supply chain of medicines and patients’ adherence to medical regimens. In addition to this, IoT was a hot topic in the automotive industry in 2015, as driverless cars seemed to be in the headlines every week.

All of the hype surrounding IoT suggests that the use of IoT connected devices will continue to grow rapidly in 2016. It is predicted that the number of IoT connected devices will number 38.5 billion in 2020, up from 13.4 billion in 2015, which is a rise of over 285 per cent.

But how will this actually materialise, and what are some of the trends and obstacles that will surround the mass uptake of IoT in 2016?

  1. Service providers will usher in IoT

In 2016, we will increasingly see service providers taking a leading position in rolling out IoT. So far, IoT has only been available to consumers largely on an individual product basis and as a result, uptake has been patchy. Once service providers get involved and consumers see the benefits from IoT-as-a-Service, we will really see IoT take off.

Telecoms companies, for example, are perfectly placed to begin offering IoT packages such as a ‘smart’ or ‘secure home’ providing hardware, software and support for a monthly cost. As service providers become more involved in IoT, security will become more of a focus, as they will need to not only protect consumers but also their own reputations.

  1. Simplicity will be a strong focus

The real value of IoT lies in its ability to make consumers’ lives simpler and easier. This doesn’t work if the devices themselves are complicated to use. It’s essential that IoT devices seamlessly integrate into our lives. This is why we will increasingly see technologies like NFC used in the IoT. It’s a very simple technology that consumers already use and is perfect for pairing products together with a single tap.

For the same reasons, voice activation will be a feature that technology companies will look to perfect and integrate into products so that devices can be easily controlled by those with little technical know-how or ability.

  1. IoT security will be visible to consumers

One requirement of the new world of IoT will be to ensure consumers have the information they need to make educated decisions about the products they purchase. Companies will have to be transparent about the level of security their products and solutions offer but do so in a way that is easily understood. In the future, IoT products will be sold much like bike locks are today, clearly marked with different levels of security. This way consumers can make clear decisions about how much security they need and how much they will be willing to pay for it.

NXP is currently working with governments around the world to define these levels and we should expect to see these gradually coming onto the market.

  1. Wearables will unlock the IoT

Wearables will be the key to everything in the IoT. Wearables will be seen as the new human-machine interfaces. From smart watches to smart clothing wearables will become intrinsic to the IoT experience. It’s possible digital patches that can be applied to the skin could play a role in some situations. Likewise some people talk about ingestible or edible sensors being the next big thing, but convincing people to swallow technology will be difficult and could result in urgent health treatment.

However, while it is likely that 2016 will see a new era of commercialisation and mass uptake of IoT due to expanded offerings from service providers, this is not guaranteed.

In order to ensure mass uptake, 2016’s pioneering service providers will need to ensure that IoT solutions are highly secure, reliable and truly make consumers’ lives easier.

Asit Goel, Senior Vice President of IoT Development at NXP

Image Credit: Ahmetov_Ruslan / Shutterstock