The Sky is the Limit — For Both Opportunity and Threat
For Dave Evans, the IoT presents some pretty staggering numbers.
Evans is predicting that we’ll see 40 billion things connected to the internet by 2020. But for Evans, as mind-bending as that statistic is, the beauty’s in the “what,” not the “how many.”
Evans — former Cisco futurist, Stringify co-founder, and CEDIA 2017 keynote speaker — says, “A decade or so back, if I had said, ‘I want to connect my shoes, or my toothbrush, or my front door lock to the internet,’ people would have laughed because it would have just made no sense, it would have been expensive, my shoes would have cost a thousand dollars, or whatever,” says Evans.
Today? The average consumer is surrounded by a wealth of intelligent devices — and they’ll need assistance sorting through their options.
“Traditional control systems are being augmented now with IoT devices, like door locks, and thermostats, voice control, connected light bulbs, and so on. So all of a sudden from an integrator’s perspective, their world, their opportunity, has grown exponentially.”
“I mean, the sky's the limit; there's so many things you can now do — there's fitness, entertainment, health, security.”
Evans — given his background as a predictor of tech trends — takes the big pictures that he’s seen and narrows them down: What does a connected armored division on maneuvers have in common with a connected lightbulb?
“Once you start adding different types of things, you now get insight you simply didn't have before,” Evans explains. “It’s the old adage that you can't manage what you can't measure. And whether it's grand issues that we're dealing with, like climate, or small issues like in your home, the ability to get data from those things, to get insight, to manage things — it could be your utility bill, it could be your thermostat, it could be an entire city, it could be an entire planet.”
Feed the World?
Let’s take a basic, fundamental example of how IoT can solve a pressing problem:
How are we going to feed ourselves in the future?
Evans notes that currently, the U.S. population adds another hungry mouth every 14 seconds. And Evans brings the dire news that more than 80% of the land that is suitable for farming is already being used.
“Land is in short supply, and yet, we have to double food production over the next few decades to feed all these people we're adding,” he says.
“It was about 20,000 years ago when humans began to farm. One can make an argument that for 99.9% of agricultural history, how we farmed didn’t fundamentally change.”
The process was repetitive and only as predictable as the weather: dig a hole, plant a seed, hope it grows. Sure, machines came along to speed parts of the process and buttress others — from combines to irrigation — but those tools couldn’t really challenge drought or the right scavenger.
Today, though, agriculture is about to undergo an enormous change — since ag, like any other industry, is subject to the universal laws of technological growth, the IoT is about to impact our food supply in incredible ways.
“We're already seeing the early stages of things like vertical farming and hydroponics,” Evans explains. “We're even seeing the merging of plant life with electronics where plants literally have electronics embedded in them as they grow, and plants could actually say, ‘Look, I need more water. I need more fertilizer. I need more pesticide.’
“And connected sensors and connected devices allow us to do that. Long story short: The population is growing fast, the land is shrinking, the climate is changing, we need to grow a lot of food — IoT is the answer.”
And if the IoT can solve problems on the scale Evans is addressing, just imagine what it will soon do for the kitchen in your home.
“There's so much opportunity, and those individuals and companies that can really make a mark can take advantage of a massive sea change coming into the home automation space.”
And, of course, with that sea change comes a larger chance for bad actors to hack the connected home. As worrisome as those vulnerabilities can be, they obviously also offer yet another revenue stream for the tech integrator.
“To me, security and privacy are two sides of the same coin. If you erode one of them, you compromise the other one,” says Dave Evans.
Evans notes that people often blame technology for their lack of security — but that’s a bit unfair:
“It's akin to someone leaving their home and leaving their front door unlocked,” he explains. That’s precisely what happened in a huge DDOS attack in late 2016, and cameras-turned-culprits were responsible for a lot of the requests that overloaded servers.
“All of these cameras were hacked, and it was a big IoT botnet attack,” says Evans — and the cameras were vulnerable because their default passwords were left unchanged: “They left it, User Name: Admin, Password: Password.”
“So part of [the solution] is education, but part of it is also that we've got to be all accountable, all responsible. If you leave your home, and you leave your front door unlocked, and someone breaks into your home — that's kind of on you. The same is true with IoT technology; you have to secure it properly, you've got to get the right firewalls or security, and so on.”
“And I think therein lies the opportunity for home integrators because the average consumer doesn't know what to do — but they want security.”
CEDIA is the leading global authority in the $14 billion home technology industry.
CEDIA represents 3,700 member companies worldwide and serves more than 30,000 industry professionals that manufacture, design, and integrate goods and services for the connected home.
CEDIA is the brand of custom-installed home lifestyle experiences that define a pathway to prosperity for members and ultimate contentment for clients. This is achieved by engaging all integrators and manufacturers, regardless of level of development and geography, with forward-looking insight and the education, tools, relationships, and support necessary to provide clients with best-in-life experiences at home.