How IoT will transform daily life [Q&A]

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Seemingly everything will soon be connected. (Image via blog.telligent.com)

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to transform the way we work, live and play.

IoT refers to the interconnection of devices and appliances like coffee machines, washing machines, headphones, lamps - nearly anything one can think of - in order for them to communicate geographically with each other and users.

With just 2 to 3 percent of the global enterprise IoT market, adoption is nascent in the Middle East, but with 20 to 30 percent in IoT-enabled hardware and connectivity, and 50 to 60 percent in associated IoT services, growth is expected to outpace global rates, according to Deloitte.

Smart cities initiatives, demand from telecom operators, enterprises and the government sector will push smart development and IoT adoption across a number of key industry verticals beyond 2015, according to Deloite.

In attempt to better understand the promise of IoT in the region, Wamda met Intel’s EMEA regional IoT director, Rod O’Shea, at Entrepreneur Day at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority.


Rod O'Shea discusses the imminent transformation that will be driven by IoT. (Image via Pamela Kesrouani)

Wamda: What is the most interesting use of IoT?

Rod O’Shea: There are just so many depending on where you look. For example, at the IOT World Forum 2015 by Cisco, we showed “thesmartplan” curated by Kalebr, where sensors detect moisture and tweet when the plant needs water or nutrition. You can water or feed by tweeting if you have permission. You can extend that to full scale agriculture and you can see how food production and water usage could be vastly optimized. Equally, this could apply to other areas of agriculture such and meat and milk production.

Wamda: What effect will IoT technology have on our daily lives?

O’Shea: It is always difficult to predict the future. Fifteen years ago who would have anticipated the degree of mobile computing we have today, before we had wifi, smartphones and tablet computers. One area where we can expect big change will be in the home with technology enabling improved self-sufficiency, support and monitoring for an aging population that wants to remain at home. Solutions such as Mimo-Care will become the norm as technology integrates seamlessly into everyday objects, ultimately becoming transparent to the user.

Wamda: What would accelerate the benefits of IoT?

O’Shea: Two things: standards to drive interoperability and IoT building blocks making it easier and faster for people to take ideas to solutions. Standardized building blocks will allow new developers and entrepreneurs to take known working hardware and software elements which they can build unique value on top without having to design everything from scratch. This will drive faster innovation and accelerate ideas into production.

Wamda: How is IoT changing or affecting big data and the cloud?

O’Shea: The value of IoT is driven by data, but data is of no value unless you can derive actionable insights, and that needs analytics. Firstly, data needs to be filtered for what is important, as not all data needs to be communicated - for example - only when a temperature change has happened. Some of those analytics will need to be done in real-time to act on that data immediately. But the vast majority will be sent to the cloud, or datacenter, for analysis and that will require compute power. Current industry estimates are that by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected things generating 44 zetabyte of data that will need to stored and analyzed.

Wamda: What is the role of policymakers and government in ensuring the safety and security of IoT?

O’Shea: We firmly believe that standards are what will ultimately drive the fundamental needs of IoT, be that interoperability or security. However, policy can help drive things forward more quickly. Take energy usage for example… Across the EU, buildings are responsible for 40 percent of energy consumption and 36 percent of CO2 emissions. As a result, the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires all new buildings to be nearly zero-energy by the end of 2020. All new public buildings must be nearly zero-energy by 2018. A French decree of January 2013, requires nightly power-off of commercial lighting and signage in France to help save energy.

Wamda: What would be your tip for entrepreneurs interested in IoT?

O’Shea: Start thinking about the promise of IoT and looking at our roles in a new way. We should be asking ourselves:

  • What business am I really in?  
  • How does IoT make new cross-industry collaboration possible?
  • Who do I need to partner with to solve the problems that matter most and capture the biggest opportunities?

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