The growth of the Internet means that mobile connected devices have become essential, whether it's in our homes, on the road or in the workplace.
I woke up this morning to the “Game of Thrones” theme music on my iPhone 6S, walked to the sink where I waved my hand to turn the water on my Moen MotionSense faucet and brushed my teeth with my Philips Sonicare Electronic Toothbrush. I then proceeded to the kitchen, poured some coffee from my Wi-Fi enabled coffeemaker and walked over to my iMac to read the Wall Street Journal. Among the many targeted advertisements in my browser, I came across a promotion for a Lily Camera Drone, which when just thrown into the air would follow me around and record everything I do. I thought, if only I could get this, my life would be complete.
Such is the prevalence of electronics in my life and I’m sure a similar scenario plays out in a large number of households around the world every morning. Electronics have quickly become essential, whether it’s in our homes, on the road or in the workplace. The emergence of the Internet and mobile-connected devices has, over the last decade, put this “electronics revolution” into hyperdrive, enabling us to easily connect with each other via laptops and cell phones. As technology has developed further, we are now at a point where we are moving from electronics enabling person-to-person communication, to smart electronics facilitating person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication.
A wired world
It’s the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of physical objects, devices, vehicles and buildings that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity that are tasked to collect, store and analyze data. Analysts estimate that there will be nearly 5 billion connected electronic devices in use by the end of 2016, across all industries. In the consumer space, IoT devices can be found in connected homes, wearables, healthcare, robotics and drones.
Companies such as ADT, Comcast, LG and NEST are leading the way in enabling the connected homes with Wi-Fi enabled security systems, media sharing devices and connected appliances. Companies focused on bringing the conveniences of online connectivity to household tasks understand that their products need to be simple to use in order to build trust in the technology. The next wave of development will extend this connectivity to areas such as sprinkler systems, lighting, HVAC and power meters.
Wearable devices such as fitness trackers, health monitors, cameras and motion sensors have become immensely popular with consumers, with more than 155 million units shipping by 2019.* Companies such as Google, Fitbit, GoPro and Apple are pushing this technology, with a goal of providing connected devices with a low cost and longer battery life.
Consumers embrace new technology
The emergence of IoT devices offers significant benefits in the area of healthcare – 24/7 connectivity, increased data availability and a decreased need for patients and healthcare professionals to be in the same location. A Food & Drug Administration (FDA) report predicted that 1.7 billion smart phone users worldwide by 2018 would be using a mobile medical app. Because of this, data security of sensitive information is at the highest priority.
The emergence of IoT has had a distinct effect on all facets of our lives, from how we behave in our homes, to what we learn, to what we do at work. Our increased dependence on electronics for planning, communication and entertainment has made each of us more tech savvy and capable. My mother, who previously had difficulty going shopping, now buys all her things on her phone from Amazon while riding her electronic wheelchair. Colleges and universities are offering more courses on embedded systems and IoT, which are taught using iPads. Work-from-home with mobile connectivity is rapidly becoming the norm in many workspaces and industries.
Engineers are crucial to the IoT
To support this shift in technology, companies who are part of the IoT space are looking for a new set of skills in their employees to develop and grow their market presence. A computer science or electronics degree now needs to be accompanied by knowledge of networking and embedded programming capability. Knowledge of connectivity protocols such as Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, LoRa and Wi-Fi is key to developing IoT devices. The ability to develop apps for iOS and Android is also a vital skillset to enable the user interface to the sensors via a mobile device.
While the competition for these highly skilled workers is fierce, companies can partner with a service provider like EASi to ensure they can stay current with new technologies and develop new, timely products. With a fully realized specialty in all aspects of designing and constructing connected devices, EASi is at the forefront of ushering in this new generation of electronics.
Electronics, in some form or other, have been a part of our society for a majority of the last four decades. Today and in the foreseeable future, this dependence is going to grow, possibly exponentially. The day is not too far away when I approach my driveway and my car opens the garage door, adjusts the temperature in the house to match my car, turns my oven on to start cooking dinner and sends text messages to my children’s phones telling them daddy’s home, all while my Lily Camera Drone is following me and recording my every move. Are we ready for this? Is this our future? I know it’s mine and it cannot happen soon enough.