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Siri, Alexa, and Google Home are just some of the automated home network systems available to consumers in 2016. These systems operate lights, electronics, and home appliances like the stove in your house by using your home wireless network. Google WiFi and Eero are two mesh network products consumers can buy to blanket their entire house in internet coverage. Gone are the days of dead spots. Most people now have smartphones and tablets over traditional computers in order to be more mobile. Cisco predicts that in 2017, people worldwide will have 3 billion devices and 2.1 billion of those will be smartphones.
At IoT Institute’s inaugural IoT Emerge Event in Chicago in this past November, Timothy Chou, a professor and lecturer at Stanford University, recognized leading expert in IoT, and author of Precision: Principles, Practices, and Solutions for the Internet of Things, rightly stated that consumer technology has made the last five years dominated by the “Internet of People.” The average person has made being connected the social norm. Everyone now expects to be able to access their information and the internet wherever they go. It has turned what once was the luxury of having a small powerful mobile computing device in your pocket into something we now take for granted. It is also turning up the pressure on infrastructure services and manufacturing industries to meet the challenge of becoming true interconnected services and networks.
Right now the engineering world is dragging its feet entering the Internet of Things (IoT) world. The MPI group reported in 2016 that 67% of companies have no or limited understanding of IoT. This does not include infrastructure networks like public transportation or utility services. The “smart city” model with interconnected utility services, public WiFi, and public devices like street lights regulated on collected data are on the rise in Europe, but are still in the developing stages here in the United States. Part of the reason is that many people still believe that IoT is a fad or hyped up to the point of being unbelievable.
If you want proof that the IoT will change the industrial world, look no further than how the consumer market has overshadowed it with innovations and advancements. Virtual reality and augmented reality are now commercially available. Smart-home products are becoming more available. Wireless internet is now available in newer car models that can also have sensor detection and assisted braking. We are already living in an interconnected world. We need to push the engineering industry to run toward the same goal.