I'm with you on the hype aspect, but it's hard to say how many "sensors" will exist. The vast majority will most likely NOT be directly connected to the Internet. They will instead be embedded in any number of products.
You need sensors when you build automated control systems, and especially so if you're after greater operational efficiency. So for sure, that's on the increase, in factories, planes, trains, cars, trucks, buses, amusement parks, movie theaters, elevators, HVAC systems, kitchen appliances, and on and on and on. In some countries, even bathrooms have their own set of sensing equipment.
In most cases, for Internet access to these systems, you wouldn't really need unique IP addresses for each sensor.
Jack, well done on an informative, fact based analysis. More sensors isn't necessarily a good thing. Go on to Weather underground and find how many weather stations are available for your area. Most are run by "non engineering" types and as such , the accuracy is questionable. Just the other day, I was seeing a report of rain and a very low temp when I switched to a nearby airport sensor (maintained by professionals) it was much more believeable. If you look at most temperature sensors for consumers, try to find an accuracy spec. So the internet of things will likely just flood us with more useless data.
I think out of this "noise" would come opportunities for the creation of innovative algorithms to extract useful information. In my view, one key to enabling this is standardization of information formats and sensor IDs and capabilities. So when I hear about billions or even a trillion connected sensors, I say bring-it-on!
Sure there's hype. Bu maybe there's some truth to those claims:
In embedded.com Jack continues to talk about $15T over the rest of the decade being 4% of GDP. I can see how new systems with sensors(coupled with AI) creating savings/value greater than 4% everywhere in the economy, be it robots, labs-on-a-chip or sensor networks or plain old smartphones(altough i';m not sure it would appen that fast)
And i can even see some of those getting to the poor , the way smartphones got there:for example, assuming the lab-on-chip vision is true, treating poor people in places with lack of medical expertise will be possible and probably cheaper using lab-on-chip devices.
And for many industries , the 4% savings/value number is pretty low. Putting sensors in garbage cans saves more than 30% of transport costs(onavo.com). Labs-on-chip could really transform healthhcare. Smart lighting probably saves much more than 4% in total lifetime costs of a bulb.
But sure , that's just savings - it speaks nothing about how much of the value would go towards the electronics.
True, today's car is packet with sensors, but I don't necessary want to know your engine's per-cylinder gas-air mixture distribution status over the Internet. Will that kind of information useful to anybody? (Car manufacture? Gas stand? Environmental agency?) It is hard to say what is useful and what is useless. Somebody may hit gold mine (or "Killer Appliation") from pile of data, or can be just useless meaningless digital garbage. I think "Trillion Sensors by 2020" is optimistic outlook that hoping somebody find gold mine, but nobody know what it is (or is it real) at this point.
I can see how, possibly, 200 billion sensors a year would come about, but ironically that would not lead to 1 trillion active sensors after 5 years;
Sensors in consumables.
For example, perishable food, sticking a cheap sensor on the package at the factory. Being able to track temperatures during transport could lead to later "consume before dates" and thus less waste. (In the EU alone, enough food to feed Spain is discarded everyday).
These sensors could communicate RFID like with the shop inventory system when sitting on the shelf, making them connected.
However, being throwaway, they would not accumulate to 1 trillion connected after 5 years...
So first of all, the trillion sensors is by 2050, not in the next 5 years. Only talking 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. (3-6 billion will be people, add all the servers in and maybe you are left with half that goes to sensors. Just spitballing here: 25 billion sensors in the next 6 years.)
Second, my phone has 13 sensors in it already. It's one phone out of 6 Billion in the world ... do the math. (Maybe the 50 billion by 2020 is low?)
RFIDs on consumables shouldn't be included, as they aren't on the internet ... maybe the readers, but that would be orders of magnitude fewer.
Cars will definitely be on the internet, and they have 10's, maybe 100's of sensors. (Although, a good cyber-security requirement would be to leave them OFF the internet.) Again, over a Billion cars in the world, so that multiplies through rather quickly.
Smart Meters, weather stations, air quality sensors, etc., etc. are all coming down in cost and going up radically in deployments. 50 years ago the US Weather Service struggled to get a weather station in every city. Now days, every neighborhood school has a station on the internet.
Finally, don't forget where we are on the Hype Cycle:
|...........____ <--- Plateau of Productivity
|........./ <--- Slope of enlightenment
|...^.../ <---- Peak of Inflated Expectations
|/.....v <--- Tough of Disillusionment
/<-------------- Trigger Technology (YOU ARE HERE)
I am the founder of TSensors (Trillion Sensors) Initiative. I recently came across this interesting post. As the post and attached comments also reflect initial views of many executives and engineers I have been meeting, I decided to present my vision hopefully clarifying some related issues. (For a reference, I created the posted chart).
Are IoT and TSensors only the buzzwords?
While IoT is a new buzzword and Internet of Everything, IoE, is even a newer one.
TSensors Initiative is also a new buzzword which I created in 2013. It was inspired by the bestsellingbook Abundance by Peter Diamandis, which outlines a path to World with no hunger, medical care to all, clean environment and clean energy for everybody. The enablers of Abundance in one generation (20 years) are exponential technologies, enabling in turn growth of goods and services faster that the growth of global demand for them. Networked sensors are one of the exponential technologies, with forecasted demand for 45 trillion of them in about 20 years (up from the current 10 billion a year run rate).
As historical average cycle time from prototypes to volume production was 30 years, TSensors Initiative objective is to accelerate this cycle to perhaps 10 years. You can find more at www dot TSensorsSummit dot org.
Is IoT is an embedded system?
From my perspective, the IoT is an evolution of embedded systems. New elements include:
Distributed sensing and actuation which could be deployed in different, non-electronic, domains. For example, based on sensing buying and consumption habits, the actuation may be in a form of sending discount coupons for products and services one wouldn't otherwise buy.
New IoT Internet architecture emerged simplifying low latency connectivity of edge devices, funded at multibillion dollar level by multiple companies and Governments. The modifications include a Fog layer under Cloud, and Swarm layer under Fog.
Sensor deployment was dramatically simplified for selected sensors. Mobile market explosion over the last 8 years reduced cost, power consumption and physical volume by three orders of magnitude, and increased number of transistors/sensor (intelligence) by three orders of magnitude!
The focus of new systems shifts from hardware to a multi-domain data processing. Big Data generated by sensors requires new algorithms. Artificial Intelligence is becoming one of the new powerful tools enabling extraction of data from seemingly noise. Sensor fusion is another powerful tool enabling significant improvement of accuracy through a deployment of multisensors and smart algorithms, each complementing deficiency of another, with fused accuracies challenging those of standalone sensor systems often two or three orders of magnitude more expensive.
2013 World's GDP is around $70 trillion, and US around $16.5 trillion.
The boldest 2014 IoT forecast for 2020 from John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, is $19 trillion, currently under $1 trillion.
This implies that growth of global economy would be by about $18 trillion in 6 years, more than entire current US economy. Based on this forecast, 2020, IoT would represent about 25% of the global economy... Even if it is way too overoptimistic, it may still form the biggest economic tide in humans' history.
Some of the applications behind this forecast will be revealed at TSensors Summit Munich, September 15-17 (http dot TSensorsSummit-Munich dot org/) and TSensors Summit San Diego November 12-13 http dot TSensorsSummit dot org/sandiegosummitho dot html). Those of you interested, please join us.
Affordability is one of the critical enablers behind trillion sensors. I listed below several potential trillion sensor applications.
Trillion sensors/year translates globally to about 130 sensors/person/year. We already are using up to about 200 sensors/car, 100 sensors/smart home, 15 sensors/cell phone, 10 sensors/wearables, etc. So just extending the affordability of such system to billions could create a path to trillion sensors.
IoT for many emerging application fighting global hunger, pollution, healthcare and energy, could be served by $1 networked sensors, with sensors representing about 5% of the IoT applications (Cisco's vision).
Ultrahigh volume sensors applications for personal health, fitness and lifestyle will require a cost on the order of $0.10 or lower. There are about 7 billion people on the planet, collectively owning about trillion things (clothing, shoes, jewelry, toothbrushes, pets, etc.). Each of them will have sensors, as evidenced by recently introduced products. Each thing may use an array of sensors. Sensor migration to all personal "things" for most of people is a matter of time and cost. Please note the "array": multiple sensors will create a single network node.
Monitoring the trillion shipped packages (UPS alone ships about 160 million/year) will be enabled by the system cost on the order of $0.01. Deployment may be based on smart 3D printed tags with the sensor arrays (temperature, shock, location, etc.) and readout electronics wirelessly interfacing with host systems.
Trillions of food packages are sold every year. I envision printing smart sensor arrays monitoring food freshness and quantity of food in the package. Your refrigerator will have a Swarm Server collecting food status, and e.g., alerting you while detecting your visit to a grocery store to buy needed food matching your (hopefully healthy) diet stored in your profile, or scheduling delivery by Google or Amazon, or looking for incentives to buy food early. Enabling cost will be in the range of $0.001 per system, achievable only by 3D printed solutions.
There are trillions of plants producing food. Wireless sensor arrays could be embedded with seeds during planting to monitor health and nutrient needs of every plant to optimize the crop yield, minimize usage of water and fertilizers, and best adopt to expected weather forecasts. Cost to enable: $0.0001?
With the right technology, each level of sensor price could create profitable businesses. For example, trillion sensors sold at $0.01 would be a $10 billion (not your father's) business.
thank you Janusz for an informative post...$10B is a decent business for sure, when that happens and there is probably wide disagreement on timing...still short of 4% world's GDP that the previous post mentioned...in 5 years time world's GDP will be about $100 Trillion (currently at $85T) so 4% of that will be $4 Trillion, way more than yours $10 Billion estimate...Kris