The IoT Challenges (That Aren’t Security)
While the Internet of Things remains one of the most exciting potential technologies, we have written at length on the most common data security concerns. Today, we want to talk about the challenges for the Internet of Things that aren’t security.
Challenge #1: What Exactly Do We Mean By “Internet”?
When the Internet of Things was first conceived, it was in very broad strokes. The main concept has remained the same over the past couple of decades, but how we thought about implementation has not.
Of course the IoT has always been conceptualized as, “many of the machines, appliances, and objects we interact with on a daily basis will also be able to interact with each other.”
Initially, we thought that this would work using RFID. Of course, given the technology at the time, this was logical. Cellular networks for instance, were not yet IP-based, and anyway, there weren’t enough IP addresses to go around until the establishment of IPv6.
Nowadays, the IoT typically uses cellular networks or Wi-Fi, but who knows how devices will interact in the future? Innovation is happening all the time.
Challenge #2: Lack of International Standards
Remember back when you got your first cell phone? How it had a different cord than anything else in your house? And then you got a digital camera and it had a different cord too? Same with your iPod? In the early stages of personal digital devices, there was no standardization, and it was a massive pain. Not only was it a hassle to figure out how to get everything to work, but trying to keep the peripherals organized was no fun either.
We are in a similar place with the IoT. Every manufacturer solves the problems how they see fit, and unfortunately that means a lot of confusion on the consumer side. Not to mention frustration. But just as micro-USB emerged as the de facto charging solution, some sort of solution will emerge for IoT. Eventually.
Challenge #3: Power
Like many people, you probably have a smartwatch or pedometer like a FitBit. This is a massively cool piece of technology which provides all sorts of insights into your activity level and health. It pairs with your phone via Bluetooth. From there it syncs to the cloud. This process would be completely seamless except for one thing — it sucks up a tremendous amount of battery power. Some devices need to be charged every night, others, “only” twice a week.
For now, most of the IoT is made out of appliances, and other devices that are permanently plugged in. This makes finding a source of power a non-issue. But for applications which require wirelessness, such as sensors or medical devices like insulin pumps, this is a hurdle that will need to be overcome before mass adoption will be possible.
In spite of all these challenges, the Internet of Things will almost certainly change the world as we know it. Just as our great-grandparents might have difficulty comprehending how much the Internet has changed things for us, someday we ourselves will have the same feeling about the Internet of Things.