You’re connected, right?
I mean, you keep your smartphone with you pretty much every waking hour, you respond to notifications in a timely manner, you’ve got a nice little mesh network at home, and your mobile data plan’s got you covered should you find yourself in Mogadishu with emails to write. While you don’t suffer a full-blown panic attack, you do notice when your phone is somewhere other than that back pocket that has now perfectly morphed into the shape of your phone.
But the future of connectivity is going to deeper versus wider. We’ve already solved the problem of global coverage for the most part. The issue now becomes what else can we connect (short answer: anything) and how much faster and wider can we make those connections and thus how much more data can we transmit.
We at Compass Datacenters have gathered up a few of the more impressive predictions for the direction of the Connected World for the near future. Enjoy, or run to the woods.
55 Billion IoT devices
According to a study by Business Insider Intelligence, the machines will outnumber us by quite a margin as soon as 2025. Of course, we already see examples of IoT being shoehorned into traditional applications for the sake of being “IoT” (we’re looking at you, the connected toilet) but the vast majority of successful IoT implementations have offered us some sort of value either in the form of data (your Bluetooth-connected toothbrush that lets you know you aren’t brushing enough), time savings (think of all the things you can set-and-forget now), or a previously impossible feature (wifi-enabled lightbulbs that can change color with the music you’re currently listening to).
The Ultimate Wearable
Tractica estimates that 10.2 million units of smart clothing will ship by 2020 – that’s NEXT YEAR. What is smart clothing, and why should you care? While this segment is still fairly nascent, we’re already seeing things like jackets with swipeable patches that allow you to do things on your phone while it’s still in your pocket to numerous sports-related apparel pieces that track everything from whether you’re holding the correct yoga pose to compression shirts that can calculate your anaerobic threshold in real time. With production costs dropping and adoption ever-increasing, look to see this figure grow over the coming years.
“Alexa, What’s The Capital of Norway?” | Voice Activated Devices
Juniper Research puts the number of homes with at least one voice-activated device at 70 million – by 2022. Now, this doesn’t mean that when you leave your smartphone lying around, you now have a “voice-activated device” in your home – even though technically you do. We’re specifically talking about things like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home – or the surprise revelation that your Nest thermostat has a built-in microphone. With so many appliances and furnishings jumping on your home’s wifi, it stands to reason that voice-activated devices will increase as they become the easiest way to control them all. Even as customer concern over privacy and security of such devices (who’s watching/listening to me without my consent?) increases, we’ll still give in to the convenience of it all, so expect to see this sector grow as well.
Phones Will Pretty Much All be Smart
Still have a friend or two that holds onto that “dumb phone” – the one that can make calls and maybe allow you to tap out a text or snap a low-res pic? Well tell them to be careful, that thing is only getting rarer. Ericsson released a report that states there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users by 2020. That’s a pretty healthy chunk of the globe. This, of course, makes sense in that developing countries are far more likely to adopt a wireless-based infrastructure over a wired one (the legacy system we still have in “developed” nations) due to lower costs – which have allowed countries that previously had zero communications infrastructure to leapfrog right over wired networks (landlines, cable, etc…) into the wireless world. Add to that the ever-shrinking price of an entry-level smartphone, and it’s only a matter of time before you can WhatsApp with virtually anyone on the planet should you so desire.
Wearables, Wearables, Wearables
The smartwatch is pretty much everywhere these days. From subtle hybrid types that still sport an analog face (Fossil does this the best) to full-on Android or iOS versions that extend your phone (or even your desktop) to your wrist, 2019 is the year that 1 in 5 internet users will own a wearable device. While some of us still remember how cool it looked to be Dick Tracy, talking into your wristwatch communicator, we know that today that novelty is a bit ridiculous in practice (thank you Bluetooth for saving us some small slice of dignity). While some devices even come with their own SIM card and can live completely untethered from their “parent devices” the vast majority of people use their wearable as a wrist-mounted notification panel while their phones remain out of sight – with one notable exception: fitness. The rise of the wearable as a legit fitness device has made many reconsider the category as a whole and is what has been driving adoption these past couple of years. However, “fitness” in and of itself may no longer be the best way describe why this adoption is so vast, we made need to broaden the scope of our definition to simply “health”.
Interesting to note that while the initial push for such devices was fitness-focused with an emphasis on tracking our workout better, helping you to manage your eating habits, even your sleep patterns, RockHealth recently released a study that found a shift from away from fitness as the primary role of their wearable to “managing a diagnosis” growing as a primary reason to own one. This shift, of course, is only possible as 1) more healthcare providers lean on tech to handle some of the lower-level tasks such as diagnosis management, and 2) devices increase their capacity to process diagnosis-specific data such as EKG, blood pressure, etc…
How Smart is Your Home?
While we discussed voice-activated devices already, there are other IoT devices that reside in the same Venn while not expressly being voice-activated. IDC suggests that there will be over 940 million smart home devices by 2022 – which include anything from a connected lightbulb to the aforementioned Alexas, to loftier endeavors like the connected refrigerator that can set up an alert when your low on milk – or even more interesting (read: expensive), autofire an order from Amazon before you run out. Moore’s law covers this sector as well, so as prices drop and capabilities increase, the lure of ease, comfort, and automation will only increase the adoption of smart devices that are wholly focused on where we live.
Traffic – On The Road and the Network
Gartner indicates that there will be 250 million connected vehicles on the road by 2015. Of course, the definition of “connected” runs a pretty wide path – from the latest and greatest from autonomous concerns like Tesla, Audi, Volvo to something as simple as being able to tether your car to your phone (Apple Car Play & Android Auto – for example). Still, this 3rd frontier – after work and home, promises the ability to fill yet another void in connectivity (for better or for worse). Again, there are obvious benefits such as real-time traffic updates, streaming music/video into your vehicle, and automated crash detection and reporting (auto dialing 911 and sharing your location in the event of a rollover or airbag event, for example) that drivers (users? drusers?) will enjoy when they upgrade their next ride.
What does this mean for those in the data game? Well, the Edge is now more important than ever. Add to the existing workloads of CDNs and the like this new ever-growing category of IoT and it’s bandwidth/latency demands, and you can see why decentralized server solutions will be imperative. And while transit costs have gone down, increased traffic and the need for new supportive tech will work against that trend.
See how an EdgePoint solution from Compass can help you prepare for the ever-growing wave of incoming, data-hungry technologies.