The Internet of Things is emerging as the third wave in the development of the internet. While the fixed internet that grew up in the 1990s connected 1 billion users via PCs, and the mobile internet of the 2000s connected 2 billion
users via smartphones (on its way to 6 billion), the IoT is expected to connect 28 billion “things” to the internet by 2020, ranging from wearable devices such as smartwatches to automobiles, appliances, and industrial equipment. The repercussions span industries and regions.
At Goldman Sachs, we see numerous triggers turning the IoT from a futuristic buzzword to a reality. The cost of sensors, processing power, and bandwidth to connect devices has dropped low enough to spur widespread deployment. Innovative products like fitness trackers and Google’s Nest thermostats are demonstrating the potential for both consumers and enterprises. And corporate alliances are taking shape to set the standards needed to integrate the wide array of devices in a cohesive way.
While these enablers make the IoT possible, its long-term success depends on the use cases that help realize the economic potential of connecting billions of devices, either to improve quality of life or save money. We focus on five key verticals where the IoT will be tested first: Connected Wearable Devices, Connected Cars, Connected Homes, Connected Cities, and the Industrial Internet.
In the short term mbed is all about kickstarting the IoT market, which is a big reason as to why ARM is giving away large chunks of it for free. The mbed OS is entirely free, and the Device Server is free for development. Only production setups running Device Server would need to pay a license fee. ARM wants to get mbed spread as widely as possible, and with their strong position in the hardware market they are more than willing to give away the software if it will spur on IoT hardware sales. Or as they see it, the time it takes to develop good software is currently gating the sales of products incorporating their IoT-focused hardware.
Wearable computing technology, dating to the 1960s’ helicopter pilot head-mounted displays, is not new.1 Even the familiar office identification badge is a type of wearable. But with recent materials science advances driving technology miniaturization and battery improvements, we’re standing on the brink of widespread adoption.
Wearables are devices worn on the body in items such as watches, glasses, jewelry, and accessories. Or in the body—ingested or surgically implanted. They consist of three modular components: sensors, displays, and computing architecture. A wearable device may include one, two, or all three functions. A smart watch may contain narrowly purposed sensors that gather data about the user and his or her environment, but it may have limited display functionality and no computing power. Computing may occur in the cloud or on a multipurpose device such as a smartphone. Thedisplay may be on a nearby screen or in a pair of smart glasses, or it may even use an earbud or pendant for verbal response.2 Think of wearables as an ecosystem—expanding capabilities that are individually interesting but more compelling when combinations are harnessed. This modularity is allowing new manufacturers to enter the market, driving demand from both consumers and enterprise users.
The mobile revolution placed powerful, general-purpose computing in our hands, enabling users to take actions in the digital world while moving about in the physical world. By contrast, wearable technology surrounds us with devices that primarily enable other devices with digital information, which in turn support us in taking real-world actions.