I had a conversation with a colleague this week at CES and he offered me a bet. He bet me $20 that in three years time we will no longer be talking about the internet of things. After a few seconds of thinking about it, I declined to bet because I realized I agreed with him.
In the very near future we will not be talking about the Internet of everything at CES, or as an industry, because everything shown at the show will already be participating in the Internet of everything. Our excitement when we see that this or that connects to the Internet, or to our smartphone via an app, will shift to an expectation that this or that will absolutely connect to the internet or another smart device. In fact, in just a few years time if something is developed and shown at CES that does not connect to the Internet or another electronic device we will doom it an instant failure. This is the trajectory we are moving to which is inevitable. Every electronic device will connect to the Internet and/or another electronic device.
We are on a trajectory to ship 6 billion connected devices in 2016 alone. In 2015 alone connected devices will generate over 8 billion zetabytes of data. By 2020 there will be over 200 billion connected devices in use. Nearly every forecast I see grossly underestimates the size, speed, and scale of the trajectory of the Internet of things. Which is why I share in our industry presentations that our anticipation is that by 2025 there will be a trillion connected objects in use.
This years CES convinced me even more that this will happen faster than many realize.
The Embedded Internet of Everything
I want to highlight a number of things I saw at CES that showed me the full potential and inevitability of this future.
Sleep Number Sleep IQ
Sleep Number announced a new technology called Sleep IQ which will be a standard feature in all their Sleep Number beds by the end of 2014. These beds have over 500 rows of sensors integrated into the mattress. These sensors exist to track your sleep patterns. Because they are embedded into the mattress they can get significantly more data about your sleep patterns than any device you put on your person. It will track heart rate, breathing patterns, hours of deep sleep vs restless sleep, as well as the patterns of your partner should you have one. This data lets you analyze patterns of your self and your partner throughout the night. For example, say your partner goes to bed early and you go to bed late. Does your pattern change once they get in bed in any significant ways. This is the kind of in depth data you can get when sensors and connectivity are embedded into your everyday objects vs. something you just stick on your wrist.
Two things I saw were extremely impressive. The first was from a company called 94fifty. This company has created a basketball with sensors built into the ball which measure backspin rotation, arc of the ball while in flight, as well as where on the rim or backboard you missed as well as if you made the shot. You can use this data to understand and get tips on what you can do to get better while training.
The other is a new tennis racket released from Babolat called the Babolat Play. This innovative new piece of sports tech has all the appropriate sensors and microchips built into the handle of the tennis racket. What this does is accurately and precisely track things like how many forehands vs backhands you hit in training or in a match. How many first serves vs. second serves. How many topspin, flat, and slice shots you hit on each forehand and backhand stroke. It tells you your power averages of each stroke variety. It even tells you the location of where on the racket strings you hit as a percentage of each and every stroke variety. Being an avid tennis player I find this is an incredible innovation. If I go to train and realize I wasn’t getting as much power on my groundstrokes, I can use the data gathered by the racket to note that perhaps I am missing the sweet spot either too high or too low on the racket strings and make any necessary adjustments. Compared to other sensors I have tried that mount onto the end of the racket, the data generated by being embedded into the racket itself is far superior and more in depth than when it is mounted.
The Connected Baby
Lastly, Rest Devices showed off the Mimo Baby which is a onesie for infants with a series of sensors built in that gives parents data about their baby. While the object on the onsie is a bit larger, it demonstrates the future where sensors and microchips will be embedded into the fabric of our everyday clothes. When this happens wearable computing will truly be a reality.
What these examples show us is the true inevitability that sensors and microchips will be integrated into every day objects we use and provide us with valuable data without having to stick a separate object on us all the time to get that data. What is important to me is the data. And when everything I own which is electronic, and even a great many of things which are not, have sensors and microchips in them I no longer need to worry about wearing a separate object to gather this data.
When you look at it this way it is easy to do the math. How many beds are sold every year? How many golf clubs? How many Tennis rackets? How many soccer balls? How many basket balls? How many pairs of shoes? How many sets of clothes? How many home appliances? You get the picture.
Now, as wonderful as this future may seem few seem to address a critical part of this story. How will this data be managed, accessed, shared, and more importantly secured. What I suggest in this big picture view of the IOE industry is that it brings up massive challenges that will catch many off guard over the next few years. Security and data management being a big one. But also network capacity, spectrum, and a host of other infrastructure issues which are not ready to support the embedded Internet of everything.
This future is lucrative and abundant with opportunities but we still have a lot of work to do to get there.