If you ask a good handful of people what the biggest problem with their smartphone is, you could bet that many of them will say ‘battery life’. It’s been a perennial problem for telecoms and hardware companies, and as more devices become communicative, and parse and store data, so battery life will remain a problem that needs solving.
As smartphones become more intricate, personalised and powerful, they need ever more juice to keep going, and often any incremental improvements in longevity are swiftly cancelled out by device functionality. This might not be so much of a problem as many devices connected to the IoT will not need to be so complex and designed for so many different battery-draining uses (as well as being mains-operated too).
Nevertheless, cell development and storage will be core areas of innovation in IoT’s future, as will alternative means of power. We see it now with surface devices, and further down the line, it’s very possible kinetic charging and renewable energy such as solar will play a huge part in the development of next-gen IoT devices. If we need communication lines permanently open, we’d better make sure everyone – and everything – has enough power to talk to each other at all times.
As covered elsewhere, IoT needs inter-connectedness, so you would hope that the tendency will be towards a non-proprietary connected future. In a future where the war on net neutrality and a decreasing belief in walled garden advocates like Apple seems to be unfolding, the public and business alike will demand access through the simplest, furthest reaching forms of communication.
The innovation game doesn’t need to confine itself to tech either. Another strand of innovation we’ll see is the innovation of partnerships. Rather than restricting future IoT partnerships across the borders of hardware and software, eg Google and Levis, Uber and Pipistrel, we will increasingly see innovative partnerships cross the public-private rubicon, often across continents.
Software updates to hardware will continue to drive adoption, upgrades and frustration, but firmware will also play a role in the future of IoT innovation.
Big data is the essential piece to providing individualised IoT-enabled innovation in every sector in future. Not least insurance, and finance more broadly. As the IIoT and the supply chain spreads out across other areas of IoT, insurance has an opportunity to grow and innovate with it.
That insurance is beginning to bed itself into smart homes and cities, and fintech is experiencing rapid growth makes it seem a logical step that industry and enterprise come next – probably at the same time in fact.
Most noticeable innovation in healthcare will be seen in developed countries, but the most scalable innovation will be seen in developing countries. Take Africa as an example: A continent that in many parts is ahead of the curve with innovating in tech, in countries such as Kenya and Nigeria, but also ahead of the curve with the need for that same tech.
From the basic human rights of clean water and disease-free medical practice, developing countries will benefit most from IoT innovation. Malaria, dysentery and other air- and water-borne diseases will be fought with smart analysis and aggregation of patient data, optimised transportation routes and storage innovation.
In retail – experience will be the keyword. Propensity modelling and retargeting combined will give marketers the most powerful tools yet to find their perfect audience, and give consumers their most accurate weapons in controlling which brands they want to engage with. IoT cuts out traditional intermediaries and drives growth of 21st century intermediaries who offer APIs, streamlined services, guaranteed interoperability brokers. IoT innovators now play to an audience of one.
Data from virtual PAs combining with purchase history – well, you can imagine how the brands that succeed will be the ones who understand not only the tech and the audience, but the relationship they have with each other.
In amongst all this prediction and analysis we must also remember that some of the best innovation comes not only by research or trial and error but by happenstance. We can’t foresee some of the challenges that IoT innovators will face – how much can we really future-proof anything? – or some of the discoveries they’ll make, unlikely partnerships they’ll form.
What we do know is that any happy accident will be explored in depth for its viability and utility to pushing forward with the next stage of the Internet of Things.
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