IoT: Past, present and future

Hack Reactor

The concept has been around since the 1970s, and the term “Internet of Things” was reportedly coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999, when he was working as a brand manager at Procter & Gamble. 

After the term first appeared, IoT was occasionally talked about, even as physical devices connected to the internet began to grow. Interest and development of the “Internet of Things” had a growth spurt in the last decade and now shows no signs of slowing down.

Before you get into the progression and the future of IoT, you have to take a look at one of the most vital parts of the system – software engineers

Without them, the IoT wouldn’t function. Software is easily the most critical part of the IoT. The engineers make sure everything actually does what it’s supposed to, that the interface is easy on the user, and that the software can be ready for any updates needed to keep the connected item functioning properly. 

One of the most important things software engineers do is help make all those devices secure.

With the increased deployment of connected devices, they are becoming more sophisticated to engineer and keep secure. So, one of the most significant contributions of software engineers is the development of security of IoT, directly linked to software robustness. The way they address security concerns is becoming more and more critical.

Software engineering makes IoT devices simpler to update and repair, user-centric, and feature-rich,” said Michael Yurushkin, CTO and Founder of Brouton Lab. “With the increased deployment of connected devices, they are becoming more sophisticated to engineer and keep secure. So, one of the most significant contributions of software engineers is the development of security of IoT, directly linked to software robustness. The way they address security concerns is becoming more and more critical.”



The Problem of Security

While the future looks bright for IoT as more technology is developed and more devices are connected, there is still the issue that could slow down everything, and that is keeping all of these devices secure.

“I've always said, and I still believe, that the biggest deterrent that could happen for the growth of IoT is a breach of trust,” said Mike Nelson, vice president of IoT Security at DigiCert. “If these devices are compromised, if malicious activity happens and consumers lose trust in those devices, it will be the biggest impediment to growth.”

Talk to anyone involved in IoT, and they eventually bring up the issue of security. It’s the most pressing issue and one that threatens the progression and future of IoT. A lack of security breeds a lack of trust. If people think your products can be hacked, odds are they won’t touch them. Cybersecurity issues are always big news. If anyone experiences a breach, most media will make some noise about it.

The biggest issue with security is that too many companies still think it’s not that important, and security issues only happen to other companies. They either add it later if they even add security at all. Cybersecurity must be built into the architecture of a device for it to be truly effective. Too many companies treat it like an accessory, when it’s really built in the foundation of good IoT and continues throughout.

“Security and cybersecurity is a layered approach, and It’s not something that can be bolted on once a device is out in the field,” Nelson explained. “Security has to be thought about in the architecture and the design. You have to think about all of the risks and the potential threats that can present themselves in a device.”

He added that devices have to be created with security in mind for the long-term success of any product.



The Progression of Things

The Internet of Things has always been evolving. Manufacturers and creators are manufacturing more connected devices that not only serve a function themselves but are part of much bigger systems. Those systems take data from multiple sources to assist with humans with making decisions, but they are now evolving so that AI can handle some of those decisions without any human interaction.

“With more things to connect now, there are more opportunities to triangulate the data. As a result, IoT is becoming a part of the business decision-making process to improve efficiency,” Yushkin explained. “We see more examples of the convergence of AI with IoT to operationalize real-time data. The models continuously evolve and reduce the need for human involvement by automatically producing reliable and repeatable decisions.”

Healthcare is an industry that has embraced IoT wholeheartedly, making it easier for hospitals to track how a patient is doing and what medications they’ve taken. The FDA is approving devices that monitor the blood glucose of diabetics. Homes are being manufactured with devices that can track maintenance and alert homeowners to any issues. Automobiles are becoming more connected, allowing users to perform many functions while they’re not anywhere near the car.



The Future

The future of IoT is all growth as long as it’s handled properly and intelligently. It’s easy to find almost anything that’s somehow connected. Some are very useful and help people and organizations function more efficiently. Some devices are just trying to find ways to be connected.

“Assuming that the technology is going to continue at the same kind of speed we’ve been used to, then, in the next few years, we can expect to see AI taking an even bigger role in our day-to-day lives with our devices commandeering our daily tasks,” said Jack Zmudzinski, a senior associate at Future Processing.

Zmudzinski predicts that we’ll be using devices for shopping, controlling our utilities, handling our accounts, and more as the Internet of Things uses AI to take over decision making. He also believes that it will be key to handling the lives of everyone in cities.“ In addition to our own personal lives, IOT will change the way we live by creating more ‘smart cities’ whereby data will be collected constantly through kiosks, taxis, stations, and surveillance systems in order to automate and streamline our day-to-day lives,” Zmudzinski explained. “What our devices will look like in five years time is anybody’s guess but, we do know that they’ll be sleeker, smarter, and better."