Insight: IoT Trends

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 with No comments

There's no shortage of news items and analysis these days about the Internet of Things (IoT). Some of the questions people and organizations are asking include: In what applications can augmented reality be useful? What's the outlook for smart watches? Is IoT secure enough to trust with our personal data? And what about automobile in-dash connected devices and services?

In the consumer market at least, Google Glass was somewhat of a flop. But that doesn't mean the idea of wearable, augmented reality (AR) technology is dead; rather, it's quietly making some traction in the business market where the concept, if done right, could have really practical uses. 

Example: the United States Postal Service is considering investing in augmented reality (AR) technology--likely a combination of wearables (AR glasses) and handheld mobile delivery devices (MDDs)--to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, Fierce Wireless reports.

In a report earlier this month, USPS identified 10 specific ways it might use AR to improve operations, such as giving plant workers more accurate spatial information, helping letter carriers pack trucks more efficiently, and giving driving instructions to improve safety and avoid traffic jams.   

Of course, the devil is in the details; the USPS would have to plan carefully and strategize effectively to achieve adequate ROI for AR technology. Glasses would be more expensive than MDDs, so the plan would need to include both. And the technology itself, and the network services needed to support it, would have to be reliable and work smoothly.  

In another area of wearable tech, Juniper Research recently predicted that advertising spend on smart watches will reach $28.6 million by 2019, up from estimated $1.5 million for 2015, Fierce Wireless noted. The addition of a new consumer screen is sure to pique advertisers' interest, although the user base needs to reach critical mass before this avenue becomes really lucrative. Also, of course, smart watch screens are small, so there's very limited real estate to get a message across.

It's often hard to predict how people will actually use new types of technology, and IoT devices are no exception. One thing is becoming clear already, though: consumers and businesses alike are concerned about security.

That concern is well-founded, said Hongwen Zhang, President and CEO of Wedge Networks, in a recent SDxCentral article. Why? Quite simply: you can't trust the things, can't trust last-mile networks, and can't trust border control (because it doesn't exist); these aren't aspects of IoT that can be effectively secured.

Instead, Zhang suggested, the best way to secure IoT is to secure network services. Some potential methods of doing just that, using software-defined networking (SDN) include:
  • Scan and secure IoT device traffic at the network entry point
  • Employ policies to choose specific trusted pathways
  • Leverage each network devices as a potential security monitor
In a similar vein, RCR Wireless recently quoted cybersecurity firm Booz Allen Hamilton as predicting that addressing security for IoT devices will affect the larger cybersecurity market. That's because to secure IoT, a paradigm shift is needed away from the traditional approach of responding to breaches after they occur. 

Proactive defense is the new name of the game. 

How might that new proactive approach become de factor? Some predictions from BAH: 
  • A rating system will be set up and used for third-party incident response vendors, based on their cybersecurity experience and methodology
  • Cybersecurity will evolve from a compliance issue to a strategic, business-critical priority
  • Companies will invest in embedded security within items ranging from A/C systems and electric turbines to smart vehicles and light bulbs
Finally, RCR Wireless summarized Booz Allen Hamilton's recent research into the battle for the dashboard in connected cars in the Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA) market, noting six areas identified as priorities for connected car product and service vendors: 
  1. Speeding up time to market
  2. Differentiating through partnerships 
  3. Reinforcing customer trust through secure connectivity
  4. Monetizing the connected car through better marketing/consumer education
  5. Personalizing the customer experience
  6. Providing alternatives to fuel vehicles
So what's your take? How do you see IoT trends playing out during 2015 and beyond? 
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