So, What is This Whole ‘Internet of Things’ Thing?
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So, What is This Whole ‘Internet of Things’ Thing?

August 18, 2014

John Phillips

In the course of the past 12 months, the so-called “Internet of Things," or IoT, has gone from semi-obscure forum fodder for the technorati to center-stage (literally) as the subject of keynotes and a major focus among the world’s biggest companies. With so many facets and such rapid, constant evolution, all of this can all be a little overwhelming to keep up with. As this space has emerged, we at Kelton have actively immersed ourselves in tracking and understanding it, and engaging our clients to help them navigate the myriad changes it’s already bringing (or will soon bring) to their businesses. For this same reason, across the coming months Kelton will be exploring some of the most salient aspects of the IoT. We’ll be producing and presenting a range of original content, all with a clear goal in mind: providing our clients the foundation for insight, strategy, innovation, and foresight around opportunity areas in the IoT. Context is always valuable, so let's begin by setting the scene with a IoT Timeline. This sharable companion graphic provides a concise history of the IoT - how it got to where it is now, where it's likely going, and the important milestones along the way.

In the course of the past 12 months, the so-called “Internet of Things,” or IoT, has gone from semi-obscure forum fodder for the technorati to center-stage (literally) as the subject of keynotes and a major focus among the world’s biggest companies.  I can’t refresh my Google News feed without seeing another article on the latest “smart” gadget or some volleying among manufacturers of the growing army of networked “things”.  The IoT as an industry is already moving faster than an over clocked CPU…and the momentum is only building.  The number of IoT-connected objects and devices is expected to grow almost exponentially, and Gartner estimates the IoT will generate over $300 billion (yes, with a “B”) in incremental revenue to IoT product and service suppliers by the end of this decade.  Among other industry forecasts, this is a distinctly conservative estimate.

But before we go any further, let’s define what we’re actually talking about.  The “Internet of Things” can be understood as the development and extension of the Internet into everyday physical objects, creating a new class of network-connected “smart” things, allowing them to send and receive information both to people using them and between each other autonomously.  Examples might include a thermostat that learns from users’ behavior, door locks that automatically respond to different individuals’ presence, livestock tagged with biochips to monitor their health and behavior, or smart coffee makers which automatically brew based on what time your alarm is set for and how well you slept.  Diverse as these examples are, they’re but a drop in the bucket of the potential applications of the IoT.

With so many facets and such rapid, constant evolution, all of this can all be a little overwhelming to keep up with.  As this space has emerged, we at Kelton have actively immersed ourselves in tracking and understanding it, and engaging our clients to help them navigate the myriad changes it’s already bringing (or will soon bring) to their businesses.  For this same reason, across the coming months Kelton will be exploring some of the most salient aspects of the IoT.  We’ll be producing and presenting a range of original content, all with a clear goal in mind:  providing our clients the foundation for insight, strategy, innovation, and foresight around opportunity areas in the IoT.

Context is always valuable, so let’s begin by setting the scene with an IoT Timeline.  This sharable companion graphic provides a concise history of the IoT – how it got to where it is now, where it’s likely going, and the important milestones along the way.

John Phillips

Senior Director, Design Research

With a background in product and service design, John provides a different perspective on design research and strategy with an emphasis on tactical implementation. As Senior Director of Design...

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