The rise of IoT 2.0 and the battle for the connected home
Sansa Security revealed the company’s Internet of Things (IoT) predictions for 2015, highlighting six of the top trends to watch out for next year.
1. The rise of IoT 2.0: The biggest problem with IoT devices today is that most of them cannot interoperate with IoT devices from other manufacturers. This is due to an inherent weakness in the implementation of common security protocols. This weakness also means that multiple devices from different manufacturers cannot be operated through a single user interface on a computing device. In 2015, expect this obstacle to be corrected. If we don’t see the first shipment of products that offer device interoperability and the ability to control devices through a single user interface by 2015, expect to read about product roadmaps from the major consumer electronics makers that promise to include these functions in future devices.
2. HomeKit and thread group battle for control of the connected home: In June, Apple introduced HomeKit, a software platform that enables developers to make IoT devices for the home that are controllable with an iPhone or iPad. In July, the Thread Group, a consortium of seven companies that includes Silicon Labs, Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs, ARM and Freescale Semiconductor, announced a new IP-based wireless networking protocol that aims to go after the same audience. However, neither platform will succeed without third-party compatibility. In the coming year, expect these two camps to furiously court developers into their ecosystems. Early rumblings suggest that Apple’s HomeKit will be a closed ecosystem, akin to the company’s App Store, while Thread Group will be more open, much like Google Play. No matter which protocol becomes the de facto standard, telcos and service providers such as Comcast and ATT, and alarm systems companies such as ADT, will have to make sure everything they deploy works with both.
3. Birth of the home mesh: In a mesh network, every node is able to share data with other nodes on the same network. When applied in a home setting, the technology will allow multiple devices to communicate to and through each other based on commands from another device, such as a tablet or smartphone. For example, if you are coming home from work, a proximity sensor in your phone will be able to recognize the lock on your front door as you approach it. As the lock is opened, the lock relays information to the thermostat to turn the heater on. The heater then tells the stove to begin pre-heating the oven and so on. Making the smartphone or tablet the hub of control for the modern home will eliminate point-to-point connections via the public Internet.
4. Death of the password: The problem with passwords today is that they are not very secure. Cloud-based password-cracking tools available now can process as many as 300 million password attempts in about 20 minutes, which means that even strong encrypted passwords can ultimately be cracked, given enough time and resources. The demise of passwords is going to give rise to other forms of authentication, such as biometric authentication. An example of this is the fingerprint reader on today’s newer iPhone models. Combining this form of authentication with a password or a gesture swipe is referred to as two-factor authentication and provides a more reliable and secure way to access and protect devices on the home network. Until two-factor authentication becomes the default setting on IoT devices, expect to continue reading stories about IoT devices getting hacked and their information leaked onto the Internet.
5. Major corporations enlisted to help curb emissions: The problem with utility companies today is that they are not very efficient from a technological perspective. We expect that to change in 2015. Next year, we believe we will see the launch of the first smart-city IoT service aggregator, and it will be driven by one of the major IT consulting firms, such as IBM or Accenture. The new efficiencies created will enable all city services from power to water to traffic lights to be linked and run by an intelligent prediction system that leverages big data to constantly optimize the flow of power, water and signal timing. The aggregator will ultimately become the administrator of entire smart cities and eventually link together the power consumption of the planet, using big-data analytics and smart sensors to deliver power when and where it is needed. The new efficiencies created will reduce carbon emissions by up to 50 percent in an aggregator’s first year of operation.
6. Drones deliver packages in the third world: This year Amazon floated the idea of using drones to deliver packages to a consumer’s front door. While that idea may have looked good in theory, it is not likely going to happen in practice anytime soon – at least not if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has anything to say about it. Next year, the FAA is expected to start a process that will result in actual rules for drone usage over public airspace, but knowing how slow government bureaucracy is to move on important issues such as this, don’t expect to see concrete rules published for at least another two years. Third-world countries, on the other hand, cannot afford that kind of lag time, especially when the cargo consists of badly needed medical supplies. Next year, expect to see drones shuttling numerous cargo types into hard-to-reach towns on the outskirts of such countries as Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.