It’s called, broadly, the Internet of Things (IoT) and by 2021 we may find it everywhere and nearly every thing connected to the internet.
At least that’s the projected reality contained the the annual Ericcson Mobility Report for 2016, a comprehensive assessment of the mobile, digital world by one of the world’s largest companies working in that space.
“Between 2015 and 2021, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to grow 23 percent annually, of which cellular IoT is forecast to have the highest growth rate,” predicts the Ericcson report, published in June. “Of the 28 billion total devices that will be connected by 2021, close to 16 billion will be IoT devices.”
You read that correctly: 16 billion IoT devices connected to the internet, 28 billion devices connected overall.
And, yes, that will mean more IoT devices connected to the internet than mobile phones – appliances, individually worn trackers and sensors, cars and many other routine, everyday items; all collecting and sending data across a web of networks back and forth to, well, countless numbers of locations, servers and data hubs. Siri in your bathroom.
For consumers the arrival of the IoT means hardly any action taken is recorded, logged by data and stored. For marketeers, it means a brave, new world of precise and personal connections to consumers.
“Siri, where can I quickly find a Clif Bar?”
“You can find a Clif Bar down the street at the Whole Foods but why not, instead, try the Honey Stinger bars?”
“Siri, I’d like my bread lightly toasted this morning.”
“Sure, but have you thought of trying a different bread? How about Wonderbread?”
By 2018 more free-standing IoT devices will be connected to the internet than will be smartphones, predicts the report.
“Western Europe will lead the way in adding IoT connections – the number of IoT devices in this market is projected to grow 400 percent by 2021,” explains Ericcson. “This will principally be driven by regulatory requirements, for example for intelligent utility meters, and a growing demand for connected cars including the EU e-call directive to be implemented in 2018.”
“IoT is now accelerating as device costs fall and innovative applications emerge,” said Rima Qureshi, Ericcson’s Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer. “From 2020, commercial deployment of 5G networks will provide additional capabilities that are critical for IoT, such as network slicing and the capacity to connect exponentially more devices than is possible today.”
Not quite ready for your shirt to tell you how many calories you’re burning while walking down the street (while also sending that data to Under Armour) or to show you a trailer of the movie playing at the cinema you just passed? Better make your plans now to move to a hidden, forested cove in the mountains; although there is no guarantee the rocks and trees won’t also be connected to the internet.
The Ericcson report also reveals the number of smartphones in use around the world will surpass the number of basic mobile phones by the third quarter of this year and that smartphone use by teenagers around the world skyrocketed by 127 percent over the past 15 months.
Of course, that might level off considering Snapchat’s decision to retain all those snaps you thought were going to vanish.
To truly connect the IoT, however, the Ericcson report suggests intense coordination is going to be needed with nations and markets implementing 5G networks.
“5G is expected to start more quickly than anticipated, and spectrum harmonization is needed between countries planning early roll-outs,” the report suggests. “This is in addition to the current process for (World Radiocommunications Conferences)-19, which focuses on spectrum for commercial 5G deployments beyond 2020.”
“Siri, could you please write my blog for me this morning? I’m going fishing.”