When I think about IoT devices at home talking to one another, doing stuff without my intervention, and talking about my habits to a total stranger behind my back, the very idea just creeps me out.
Doherty’s points are an improvement on the usual stuff, and I do see some advancements in today’s IoT ideas. Setting up home automation couldn’t have become easier without IoT. But more important, it might even offer consumers some peace of mind, and a little more safety.
Texas Instruments supports Apple's HomeKit.
(Source: Texas Instruments)
Another big IoT improvement over the old-fashioned home automation is that you can use your smartphone to control pretty much every home appliance. Your appliances are definitely getting chattier, with all those SMS alerts.
But this, I think, is a mixed bag. IHS's Morelli agrees. He envisions a future of consumers ignoring a flood of messages from their machines at home, just as they ignore voicemail now.
IoT for infrastructure
The IHS analyst foresees home-oriented IoT taking off over the next three to five years while a broader realm of IoT -- in the infrastructure -- will take another 10 to 15 years to get up and running.
Morelli acknowledged that the power of IoT gains significant importance when intelligent connectivity starts getting implemented in buildings, cities, cars, and the infrastructure in general. Examples include traffic light management, routing first responders' vehicles faster, connections to hospital networks, funneling crowds to less crowded roads after a big sporting event, and forgoing payment at toll gates in special circumstances to ease traffic.
As significant as these applications sound, however, before making all these scenarios work, “you need to get different stakeholders -- including different agencies, private entities, and citizens -- to come to a table, sign off with the idea, and agree on the terms,” says Morelli. No easy task.
Competion over device-to-device communication specs
We should all step back and take a breath when we look at the industry’s positioning today in device-to-device communication specs for IoT.
I don’t think I was the only one rolling my eyes when I learned about the Intel-led Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) unveiled earlier this week, obviously an answer to the AllSeen effort started by Qualcomm.
Morelli points out that these rival groups mostly consist of device vendors. No service provider, such as AT&T or Time-Warner, is included, he says. Further, he notes, we know little about Google’s plans on IoT, including the company’s intentions for such IoT properties as Nest Labs and Dropcam. It’s hard to believe that Google, armed with a wealth of IoT-fed information, will gladly forgo the opportunity to sell more ads. For example, if a Nest thermostat knows you’re cold, suggests Morelli, Google can relay a promotion aimed at selling you a sweaters.
Doherty notes, “What is missing from these seemingly rival initiatives is the difference between standards and recommended practices."
When it comes to the interoperability of IoT devices at home, he says, “No one wants to pay for a repeat of the CableLabs certification fees (HUGE!) nor HDMI certification (expensive!).”
Noting that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently started a new working group on IoT, says Doherty, “Things like a CEA plugfest may serve to deliver confidence and peace of mind that the right products talk to each other.”
It’s easy to talk about how big an opportunity IoT could bring to the electronics industry. Harder is to formulate a credible pitch for consumers.
“Business, services, government, and, most of all, consumer citizen mindshare of trust is needed for IoT to work and scale,” says Doherty. Without it, “massive failure is looming.”
— Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, EE Times