2016

Consider us in the Miami Vice stage of the Internet of Things. Sure, our sneakers are talking to our phones, and our fridges are informing our meal deliveries, but it’s just a taste of what is to come, and in the future, we might just look back on today and cringe. Of course, the technology being created now will dictate how we move forward — with companies like Nike, Nest, and more, each contributing in their own way. The recent addition of Google Home will see mainstream adoption explode under the guise of streaming Call Me Maybe from the kitchen to the shower

2020

By early 2020, 5G networks will begin to roll out with data speeds of up to 10GB/s, ushering in a new world of device-to-device communication beyond chatty whitegoods. We’ll begin installing more and more sensors across our environment — developing prototype ‘smart-cities’ with connected lights, sewerage level detectors, smart traffic diversions and solar panel roads that can charge your car as you drive. The IoT health industry is expected to be worth around $117 billion USD and we’ll see efficiencies in patient monitoring, smarter research, and patient care. IoT will also affect our ability to respond to emergencies, with sensors and automated responses leading faster dispatch and replacement of life-saving services.

We’ve seen the introduction of IoT-powered Precision Agriculture, and by 2020, this will be an essential tool to most, if not all farmers. Using data sensors and satellite imagery to manage resources, we’ll be able to predict weather patterns and strategically plant and harvest crops to maximise production and minimise devastating waste.

Biodegradable Microchips will become the norm. Image: Newstack

Biodegradable microchips could become the norm. Source: Newstack

2030

Smart cities? Try smart everywhere. We’ll go from the current 3.5-4 billion connected devices to a predicted 45-50 billion, with sensors on lights, bins, drains, playgrounds, and roads all common. Cars and trucks will be self-driving, speaking to each other in order to avoid accidents around 10x quicker than humans ever could. Cities will use less power, knowing when and where lights are required, and predicting demand-based on foot and vehicle traffic. Data from personal devices, wearable tech, and city environments will be indexed by algorithms to make the world a smoother place to live in. Though not as fun to think about, the security implications in this space are considerable, and will require heavy scrutiny to avoid a data-based catastrophe. Think less ‘hackers stealing your Twitter password’ and more ‘gridlocking an entire traffic network and transport system’.

By 2030, B2B services in IOT are expected to add $17 trillion to U.S GDP, making an enormous impact on productivity and the scale of challenges we get to solve. Precious resources that are drained by menial tasks today will be liberated, and hopefully, put to truly productive work.

At home, soul-sucking chores will be automated from start to finish.

Your refrigerator will plan your meals taking your diet and fitness level into account, while your oven will predict your eating patterns and cook to taste, and to schedule. IoT sensors on most, if not all food items will tell you where your food has come from while your smartwatch recommends your next meal based on real-time nutrition scanning. We’re not predicting Back to the Future-style Pizzas, but we’re not ruling it out, either…

2050

Self-driving vehicles know your timetable and arrive at your house to you up, as well as other commuters on your route. Sure you have to share, but at least the journey is speedy and traffic-free. The angry red lights that pepper your peakhour don’t even exist; entire cities flow uninterrupted thanks to sensors and data speeds beyond our imagination. Health sensors monitor your vital stats and recommend diets, prescriptions, or medical attention as you need them. Language barriers are reduced thanks to real-time translators, much like the recently announced Pilot earpiece, and the entire world is open to new opportunities of unimaginable value. We communicate more easily, travel further, and enjoy greater access to technology than ever before.

Outside the home, IoT sensors in the environment monitor pollution, pests, and ecosystems to combat the agricultural challenges of a changing climate. Food production sees a near-faultless adaptation new environments with sensors and machinery executing every necessary precaution and action for delivery.

Of course, this is just a small taste of the future, limited by our inability to see beyond the current use of IoT tech. Could we see an ‘Internet of Planets’ with impending space-tourism? Could a new wave of criminals use code to redistribute entire cities? Could concepts like teleportation and mind-control find a tangible adaptation through our increasingly connected devices? While it’s impossible to fully map the future of IoT tech, the road will certainly be pathed with ideas, unshackled by today’s limitations.

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Tanya Phull

Head of Social Media

Tanya Phull,
Head of Social Media

As head of social media at Vodafone, Tanya is an expert in customer engagement and emerging platforms. As an American-born expat and wanderluster, Tanya is always equipped with the best tech tips for travellers.

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