There’s spam in my fridge — the ‘internet of things’

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By Graham Hann

We would be missing a major hyperbole opportunity if we didn’t include a few facts and figures: according to Cisco, during 2008 the number of devices connected to the internet exceeded the number of people on Earth for the first time — by the end of 2011, 20 typical households were already generating more internet traffic than the entire internet in 2008; according to the Chartered Institute for IT, there are around 200 connectable devices per person on the planet today and it is estimated that by 2020 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet (predictions vary on this figure, but let’s just say all the numbers are big); Google’s acquisition of the connected home technology company Nest for $3.2bn (£2bn) was its second-largest ever acquisition (after Motorola); a Dutch company has pioneered wireless sensors in cattle so that when one is pregnant, or ill, it sends a message to the farmer; and the BBC reported this month that a fridge has been discovered sending spam emails after a web attack — it was one of more than 100,000 devices used in a spam campaign.

So what does all this mean for the global economy and which sectors will benefit most? The economic benefits will touch all sectors of industry, but key areas for growth certainly include: smarter transportation — the most profound changes are likely to be seen in the area of logistics, for example commuters will be able to make decisions on routes and where to park based on information their cars receive from road sensors (there are other potential benefits though, with Toyota already testing cars that talk to each other to reduce the risk of accidents); smarter energy — by 2020, it is predicted that more than 60 per cent of connected devices will be related to monitoring or delivering energy; smarter manufacturing — including real-time inventory systems and pre-emptive maintenance of machines to name two benefits alone; smarter payments — using near-field communication (NFC) and other technology in devices; smarter homes — with connected technology monitoring and controlling lighting, security systems, temperature, humidity, energy consumption, domestic appliances, watering systems and so on; and smarter healthcare — remote patient monitoring in the US is predicted to save an average of $12,000 per patient and significantly reduce hospital-acquired diseases…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the Taylor Wessing briefing.