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The rise of an idea: The Internet of Things in 2017

By Stefano Virgilli — The rise of an idea inspires the creation of many wondrous things. With an optimistic view for the future of humanity and a vision for an optimal connection between people and technology, we progress to the era of making everything even more cost-efficient, intelligent, and accurate. The Internet has played a major role in our progress. We have witnessed the power of connection. But we have also witnessed the negative consequences. To ease our everyday living, we are making efforts to perfect the way things connect between each other.

The Internet of Things (IoT) — defined as “the infrastructure of the information society” by the Global Standards Initiative on the Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) — is the Internet networking of physical devices or connecting devices with a purpose of exchanging data. Companies are making an effort to improve their functioning by using big data in their advance. In 2016, there has not been much progress in this field, so it is expected for 2017 to be more productive. Consequently, this is the forecast:

1. The Internet of Things Architect

The need of IoT analytics architect will rise. For companies to make progress in the field, they will need an IoT analytics architect, which differs from IoT system architect. Even though a small percentage of the companies are aware of this need, those that will include it as part of their team will earn an advantage.

2. Deep Learning

The concept of deep learning is powerful and for many, impossible. However, by developing an understanding of the right ways where we can apply it — since it cannot be used in all fields — we’ll have results of great value. So, as soon as we accept that deep learning is real, the better.

3. IoT in our Everyday Lives

In the future, we will be able to set more reality-based products matching our everyday needs. For example, when we go to the grocery store, we can navigate the device about what we should buy next time we visit the grocery store, so that the next time we get to the store, we can be reminded by an alarm about the things we were planning to buy.

4. The Number of Connected IoT Devices will Increase

A research made by Gartner Inc shows that by 2020, the number of devices on the IoT will reach nearly 20.8 billion.

5. The Stronger will Survive

The tech giants are likely to continue purchasing startups and growing innovations, making things difficult for smaller companies. In contrary to 2016, this year will be more successful in the IoT field. More talent will be educated and the number of external hires will increase, especially when launching a new, connected product. Companies will strive to endeavour integration, without neglecting the importance of security. More than ever, companies will aim to use big data in terms of return on investment.

However, along with the benefits, we need to predict the risks. IoT makes our appliances, buildings, and homes clever, but not intelligent. We need to progress to the point where they will be taught how to protect themselves from malicious influences and distinguish right from wrong. The consequences of not taking the right precautions will be unfortunate. As we can see, they are already happening.

For instance, the medical device manufacturer Animas warned diabetic patients that were using one of their insulin pumps that it was discovered that the pump had security issues and was hackable. Namely, the company is a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson and warned diabetic patients that there is a possibility that hackers break the system, which later gives them the freedom to change the doses of insulin. This would eventually result by delivering medically unconfirmed doses of insulin to patients using the device, which can eventually cause a hypoglycaemic reaction.

This means we must learn from previous mistakes and find a way to first predict the possible negative outcomes. According to Sanjay Sarma, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and Josh Siegel, a postdoctoral associate in the Field Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we should “watch out for unintended consequences”. As they say, “Linking an Amazon Echo to a smart door lock may seem like a good idea, but a burglar could shout from the window to unlock the door.”

Also, their further security recommendations include creating  “big brothers and sisters in the cloud”, which can transform these devices from clever to intelligent, as these digital siblings will be “aware of more context information, savvier about desirable and undesirable interactions and better able to defend themselves.” These siblings will communicate only with the IoT pixels within the system. Their role will be to prevent negative impacts on the IoT pixels by learning their usual model of behaviour. So, they will be a kind of “cognitive supervisors” that will “create a “cognitive firewall” of sorts”. Also, they recommend consumers to “preferentially select hardware and software from trusted vendors.”

Overall, IoT will improve the functioning of our society. We will be able to collect data and be more efficient. We can all benefit by knowing how much water our garden needs, or collect data that will help us improve traffic regulation and save in difficult times of scarce resources.


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