Insight: Just a Few Things About IoT

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Thursday, April 09, 2015 with No comments

By conservative estimates, five years from now (in 2020) the Internet of Things will consist of 20 billion "things," or three connected devices for every human on earth. That's daunting enough to consider, but now imagine all these things talking to each other with no human oversight. Scary.

That's exactly why security for IoT is a major concern. And, it's complex to address. How will autonomously communicating devices know how to react to potentially malicious activity? How will they know when another device isn't what it's expected to be? Who will the end user hold accountable when something bad happens? All these remain unanswered questions. 

Service providers--with customer relationships, billing system, and network technology already in place--are probably in the best position to address the complexities of IoT security. However, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) isn't taking any chances; it recently replaced its Mobile Technology Unit (MTU) with the new Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTRI), in doing so expanding its scope to protect consumers as new connected technology enters the market. 

And, speaking of oversight, at least one person envisions IoT as essentially a collection of standards. Brian Bedrosian, senior direct of embedded device business at Broadcom Wireless Connectivity Group elaborated on that idea in a recent Fierce Wireless article, explaining that IoT-related standardization efforts like Open Internet Consortium (OIC) and AllSeen Alliance are going open source, which means anybody can do whatever they want with specifications. 

Meanwhile, addressing market fragmentation and absence of standards is the focus of the newly formed Wireless IoT Forum. It's not a standards organization, but does aim to provide requirements and priorities to bodies that do focus on such things. 

Fragmentation and uncertainty over standards isn't stopping big players like IBMwhich recently pledged $3 million over the next four years to a new IoT business unitfrom investing in the future of connected devices. IBM plans to build a cloud-based open platform to collect, store, and analyze IoT data. 

Whatever it turns out to be, the market does look bright for IoT-related tech: IDC estimates the wearables market will reach 126.1 million units shipped by 2019. 
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