12 Obstacles to the Internet of Things

By Karen A. Frenkel  |  Posted 07-30-2014 Email Print this article Print

A new report outlines major obstacles to the Internet of Things (IoT) and what is being done about them, along with the possible business opportunities. According to IDTechEx, a British technology research firm that conducted the study, some analysts are hyping the IoT, there is a lot of "unquestioning enthusiasm in company publicity," and IoT figures are being boosted by renaming many "things" and including them in the IoT. "Cynics conflate many of these existing markets to give the illusion of something extremely big that is new when it is largely renamed and not new," according to the IDTechEx report, "Internet of Things (IoT): Business Opportunities 2015-2025." Instead, the heart of today's IoT is machine-to-machine systems based on sensing and processing nodes with unique IP addresses connected directly to the Internet. Allied but separate are the radio-frequency identification and sensing markets, the report says. It concludes that for the next few years the IoT will consist of many projects carried out by small and medium-size businesses, and it will become a larger phenomenon later than expected. The current impediments include few large potential customers and a lack of technical standards. To purchase the report, click here.

  • Internet Isn't Ubiquitous

    The Internet is still not available in many areas of the world. Cisco, Google and others are working on lower power and less expensive alternatives to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular access, and are also developing chirp networks.
    Internet Isn't Ubiquitous
  • Few Large Potential Customers

    About 11 billion sensors are currently deployed for natural resources, production lines, electricity grids, logistics networks, recycling, homes, offices, stores and vehicles, but many are not connected to the Internet or even parts of a network.
    Few Large Potential Customers
  • Poor Scalability

    Large deployments are likely to be very expensive right now.
    Poor Scalability
  • Sharing Data Of Everyday Objects

    Manufacturers need to be persuaded to build standard communication protocols for everyday objects. And business models are needed to make data sharing more appealing than data hoarding.
    Sharing Data Of Everyday Objects
  • Would Success Mean Data Overload?

    The role of processing at the device level is unclear, according to the IDTechEx report, as is the use of new middleware.
    Would Success Mean Data Overload?
  • Software, System Integration and Processing

    There are many software, system integration and processing issues, like determining what middleware should do and whether to perform analytics in the device or in the network.
    Software, System Integration and Processing
  • A Lack of Compatibility Standards

    More than 400 standards already exist, according to Steve Halliday, an RFID consultant and entrepreneur, and Internet standards are too complex, so devices often run proprietary protocols, thereby creating data silos.
    A Lack of Compatibility Standards
  • Security and Safety Problems

    Through the IoT, devices, and systems and other tools can be destroyed or deployed to access highly sensitive data. Also, simply flooding the frequencies of wireless networks can paralyze them.
    Security and Safety Problems
  • APIs Needed for Sensors

    Every type of sensor collects and transmits data in a different format and it is unlikely that an API hub or integration site will enable integration of all sensor data types.
    APIs Needed for Sensors
  • Sensor Standards: What's Being Done

    Efforts are underway to integrate sensor data within different industries. Ford is working on Open XC, GE is working on Predix for industrial Internet censors and Boeing has an avionic sensor fusion platform for its military fighters. In addition, universities are proposing an open standard for automotive sensors called CloudThink.
    Sensor Standards: What's Being Done
  • A Dearth of Experience and Diversity

    There is a lack of understanding of what will be possible with the IoT, and how to approach it, as well as experienced staff. Furthermore, very few women are involved and yet this can "profoundly affect them," says the IDTechEx report.
    A Dearth of Experience and Diversity
  • Batteries and Beyond

    Because large deployments mean the batteries in nodes may not be rechargeable or even replaceable, energy harvesting will be necessary to provide near-perpetual power without batteries. Harvesting heat difference, light and vibration, or other movements, are possibilities.
    Batteries and Beyond
Karen A. Frenkel writes about technology and innovation and lives in New York City.


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