There is a lot of nonsense being touted about the internet of things (IoT), according to Gary Barnett, chief analyst, software, at Ovum.
“Predictions that there will be one trillion IoT devices by 2020 and that there will be an explosion of data are examples of this,” he told a Westminster eForum in London.
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Barnett said the only way there will be anything near one trillion IoT devices by 2020 is if an IoT device was defined as “anything through which an electron passes”.
“There is still a lot of learning we have to do before IoT will become exciting, and it will take time. IoT networks will not magically appear. Someone has to deploy devices, and that can be difficult,” he said.
Ovum researchers believe the number of IoT devices worldwide in 2020 is more realistically likely to be around 30 to 50 billion.
“The vast majority of these will be simple sensors,” said Barnett. He also predicted that in the next six years there will be few IoT networks with more than just a few hundred connected devices.
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The big networks are most likely to be associated with smart metering, healthcare, smart cars and smart cities, he said, while most will be localised networks not even connected to the internet.
“Sensor data from production line machines does not really need to be accessible outside the company and will not be interesting to anyone beyond the maintenance crew,” he said.
For the “massive scenarios” such as smart metering and healthcare, Barnett said IoT has a profound role to play, but there are some interesting debates around privacy and security still to be resolved.
“Healthcare is one domain that could be transformed by IoT devices that have the potential of enabling health services in pharmacies and even supermarkets in future,” he said.
Undoubtedly, there will be an increase in data production, said Barnett, but there will not be any huge explosion of data. Ovum researchers believe the data growth will be gradual.
“Many of the systems people are envisioning will take time to bring online and a lot of data from sensors where there is little rapid change can be consolidated easily,” he said.
Deployments will also take time, he said, because IoT hardware is difficult to design and software is expensive to develop.
But Barnett said IoT is a rapidly changing technology domain and could provide significant opportunities for UK companies. “This is a nascent market, and everything is up for grabs,” he said.