The progress trajectory of the Internet of Things (IoT) hasn't been going as the tech experts had expected. Though its boat has been rocked with inconsistent standards, mixed overall demand and several other challenges, the potential that the technology holds has kept the industry going.

IoT devices have made it possible to seamlessly communicate over the Internet with other devices or the cloud, and generate data that make the world more productive, safer and a healthier place to live. In just a few years of its existence, the tech has become an integral part of human lives. For example, there are production-line sensors that are capable of alerting workshop supervisors about the real-time condition of machines and even the thermostats that are capable of automatically adjusting the temperature are a boon of IoT. Nowadays, tech innovators are slugging it out to incorporate sophisticated IoT technologies into more advanced applications like self-driving cars or drone-delivery services etc.

With the adoption rate slower than expected, some industry experts are calling the technology extremely overhyped and something which will fizzle out a few years down the road. On the other hand, there are some experts who claim that though slow, IoT has the potential of bettering the world like never before and make it a more connected place to live in.

In order to get a clearer view on the current status of IoT, McKinsey&Company recently set out to do an extensive research on all the IoT related work happening in the world. It also took into account all the direct work that the company is doing with IoT application developers and their customers. Here's what they found out:

Increased Connectivity Equals More IoT



Today, there are approximately 127 new devices being connected to the Internet every second of the day. On an average, a consumer today owns about four IoT devices that communicate with the cloud. This means, the consumers are nowadays more connected that ever.

According to a McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, IoT has the potential of generating $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion by the year 2025 across various different verticals, including healthcare, factories, retail environments and cities.

The report also highlighted that infrastructure improvements that have resulted in a better connectivity have benefited the IoT immensely. Currently, only 20 per cent of the human population has low-power, wide-area networks (LPWANs) that allows long-range communications among connected devices while optimising both costs and power-consumption requirements. However, by 2022, this 20 percent will convert to 100 per cent, according to the report.

Advancements in the technological field in the last five years has resulted in decreasing costs, reduced power requirements, and an over all interest in promoting the development of more integrated IoT solutions. For example, the price of lidar sensors, which are essential for autonomous driving, have seen a 10-fold decrease over the period of past eight years and is expected to drop by more than 65-fold by 2019. This decrease, when combined with the technological advancement of lidar, is resulting in development of fully autonomous cars, which is estimated to make up 25 per cent of global vehicle purchases by the year 2035.

IoT Adoption Is Slower Than Expected



In order to find out how industrial companies are using IoT applications and estimate whether business-to-business (B2B) growth might accelerate a few years down the road, McKinsey&Company surveyed and interviewed over 100 industry leaders from various industries, including technology, oil and gas, mining, telecommunications, public sector and utilities, discrete manufacturing, media, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare.

Their interviews and survey revealed that IoT adoption across the industrial sector is limited to a certain extent. While all the surveyed industries, except oil and gas and mining, acknowledged that their companies often received real-time data from IoT sensors. However, a majority of these companies also accepted that their enterprise deployments are still at a proof-of-concept stage, and none of them have yet ventured on any large-scale programs.

The MGI report, has also revealed that although companies are using IoT sensors to collect vast stores of data, companies aren't spending time in analysing most of the collected data. In fact, the report also found that business leaders seldom turn to IoT collected data whilst making crucial decisions as humans are still more comfortable in consulting other humans for advice or build on our own past experience rather than trusting machine collected data.

Simple IoT Applications Are Favoured More



The survey carried out by McKinsey&Company also revealed that industry leaders across various verticals favoured simple use cases of IoT as against complex ones as the prior ones are easy to deploy and manage. According to them, at least for the immediate future, customers are going to stick to simple use cases of IoT, thus not extracting the full value it has to offer.

IoT Security Concerns



According to some distinct expert voices being heard in the industry, while the IoT is expected to lead to a huge explosion of data, but the innovators are still not giving that much importance to the security side of this as they should. It was only last year that a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack had forced a temporarily taken down of some of the most popular websites including Twitter and Netflix. This particular incident send out a panic wave across the industry with almost 90% of developers believing that IoT products do not have the necessary security in place and 85% admitting that they have rushed an IoT application to the market despite knowing about security concerns.

Technology Developments: IoT Growth Could Accelerate



A majority of industry experts believe, a few monumental, and potentially disruptive technological developments can exponentially increase IoT acceptance and create lucrative opportunities for companies playing in the semiconductor field.

Energy Harvesting

For the uninitiated, energy harvesting is a process in which energy derived from external sources is captured and then stored for use in wireless devices. The process has the potential of resolving power-related issues. While solar energy can prove to be the solution for many IoT applications, experts suggest that companies working in the semiconductor field should also focus their attention on other sources, such as kinetic energy, wind energy, and thermal energy. In order to optimise energy harvesting, storage and management, companies will have to focus their attention on creating innovative designs, both at the system and silicon level.

Microphones and Video

According to recent reports coming in, Video analytics has lead to the creation of new IoT applications and use cases. The report also suggests that IoT will benefit immensely from the audio captured on microphones.

The increased importance of IoT video and audio feeds might end up creating a promising opportunity for semiconductor companies to combine hardware with end-to-end approaches for analytics and control. However, in order to tap this opportunity, they will have to get on it quickly as technologies related to advanced applications are evolving rapidly.

Embedded Intelligence and Device Analytics

With the growth of IoT, technology innovators are meticulously working on developing complementary architectures that combine the power of the cloud, which offers great storage and an extensible computing power at low cost, with the ability to process and store data on a device, or within a network at gateways that connect multiple end-devices to the cloud.

While a few IT architectures have already reached the market with these properties, semiconductor companies have an opportunity to take it a step further and play a monumental part in defining the future architecture of the IoT. According to experts, they should focus their attention on video and audio sensors related products, since these devices are generating and proliferating significant amounts of data nowadays.

Further, IoT Applications that require on-device processing are immensely power hungry and include expensive components. This is where semiconductor companies can step in and help in optimising the on-device solutions for these applications.

Focus More On Outcome



The current trends have shown that IoT developers are focusing their attention more on the technological potential of the IoT, rather than making an IoT application more valuable or desirable to the customers. There's an urgent need for them to understand the problem with their approach and start focusing on making their application more safer, convenient and financially viable (to the businesses).

Design For The People



According to McKinsey&Company, their survey revealed that users, both personal and industrial, are more likely to adopt IoT technologies that generate a positive emotional reaction. For instance, Amazon’s Echo, which is a smart-home speaker, answers to the name Alexa and responds to basic commands and questions. Such qualities in a product result in creating an emotional connection between the users and device. This could be one of the reasons why the sale of such voice-based products is increasing exponentially by the day.

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