Could the IoT trigger a new internet revolution?

1st June 2015
Could the IoT trigger a new internet revolution?

When we stop to think about key periods and innovations in history, it's interesting to note that they often coincide with massive infrastructure upgrades.

Look at how the Roman invasion led to the creation of an effective road system, as well as other key facilities like aqueducts. Or in more recent years, the Industrial Revolution didn't just lead to new factories springing up – it spearheaded a transformation in areas such as transport and led to the creation of a capitalist mindset in the UK.

Some observers believe the emergence of digital technology has been just as significant, as the country's internet infrastructure has had to be upgraded to cope with our growing reliance on gadgets such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.

But this technology is still growing and finding new applications all the time – and plenty of people still don't feel they're getting a good enough internet service right now, especially those in many rural areas.

So could a new revolution be on the way? Internet of Things (IoT) technology is rapidly creating a buzz in the tech fraternity right now and all signs are currently pointing towards it making some serious waves among mainstream consumers.

Connected devices and automated systems in the home could soon become the norm, yet their popularity and take-up will depend largely on the UK's wider internet infrastructure being up to scratch.

As Goldman Sachs noted recently: "Expanding the telecom, cable and satellite pipelines that carry traffic through broader Wi-Fi networks is critical. But also providing devices with the sensor, memory chips and software necessary to communicate with the pipes is key." 

The investment bank has compared the situation with the one that arose as the motorcar first became popular.

"Before there could be 300 million cars in the USA, there was a programme to build the interstate highway system," it stated.

"Without highways, traffic jams would be too big and folks would still be travelling by train. The same holds true for the IoT today."

Goldman Sachs believes the IoT represents the third wave in the development of the internet, pointing out that one billion users got on board in the initial wave in the 1990s and a further two billion took advantage of the mobile wave in the 2000s.

However, Goldman Sachs believes as many as 28 billion "things" could be connected to the internet by 2020 – including wearable technology and even vehicles.

The idea of enabling automation of many of the processes and systems in our homes is very exciting. After all, making them act more intelligently and become more responsive to the environment can help us live easier and more comfortable lives. Add to that the potential to save lots of money in the process and it's clear that IoT systems can transform our lives for the better.

So we watch with baited breath to see whether the infrastructure required to power so many connected devices will be forthcoming. As the broadband revolution has proved, people are only going to get more and more demanding when it comes to receiving good connectivity.

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