Service providers are desperately working to transform their traditional networks to software-based, all IP networks in order to handle the rapidly developing Internet of Things (IoT) future which Accenture is reporting could add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030. However, device manufacturers and frivolous IoT novelty services may be distracting them from other significant IoT issues, such as latency and security, and the overall promise of IoT to save money and resources and boost revenue.
Today, IoT novelties (curiosities such as "smart baby monitors" and "smart toilets" among them) have been noted for their easy hackability thanks to device makers' lack of foresight. Plus, the lack of standards on how IoT is actually defined is further muddying IoT as device makers increasingly slap the IoT label on any old embedded system that is somehow connected to another machine.
For example, earlier this month, Philips Hue gained a reputation as a novelty when it teamed with Syfy network to provide in-home synchronized mood lighting using smart lights for Syfy's 12 Monkeys, a television series based on the 1995 film of the same name.
Viewers who had downloaded the app, synched it with their Hue system and set it to "listening mode" were treated to an immersive experience when they tuned in for the show's debut. As the app picked up on audio cues throughout the episode, viewers' Hue-enabled home lighting changed accordingly to enhance their viewing experiences.
With the pairing of home entertainment and smart lighting, Philips sought to use its partnership with Syfy as an advertisement for the idea of increased permeation of the Internet of Things in the home.
The Philips Hue light track product received less-than-glowing reviews not only for the product but also on the overall IoT message. Some reviewers took care to mention how smart lights could preserve electricity or even act as alarms in case of an emergency, but Philips seems to have botched an opportunity to drive home just how useful and efficient an IoT tool can be.
As that multi-trillion dollar amount behind Accenture's 2030 market valuation points out, IoT is more than just a toy. Part of IoT -- and, indeed, the New IP -- is the vast potential for and adoption of once-impossible business models.
Whereas Philips and other device dalliers are busy marketing solutions without a problem, many IoT success stories involve bringing a subscription model to businesses where one would not have fit before, including:
- Freezers keeping track of incoming and outgoing food (and automatically ordering food accordingly)
- Office printers that charge per-print and automatically order ink when cartridges run low
- Apps that improve traffic flow by monitoring and advertising parking space availability
- Pills that monitor consumers' health vitals and provide alerts when further medical action or intervention is needed
As the IoT market is still climbing the hype curve toward that $14.2 trillion, the distractions of IoT novelties can potentially dim service providers' ability to profit from new IoT business models. When applied usefully, IoT technology could potentially save millions of dollars and megatons of resources. And it's worth noting that IoT technology will likely power a lot of the telecom network transformation expected over the next 20 years.
— Joe Stanganelli, Freelance Contributor, special to The New IP