May 27, 2016 | Updated: February 2, 2020
IoT products are inching their way into our homes at a fast pace. Just as with any other type of consumer product, there are questions about the future of these advanced products. William Webb, IEEE Fellow and CEO of Weightless SIG, an expert on IoT, shares his insight.
IEEE Transmitter: How quickly are IoT products becoming mainstream?
WW: Slowly, as the benefits become clearer, as connectivity becomes more widespread, as chipsets become cheaper and as lessons are learned. We already have connected thermostats, security systems, lighting and a few others. We will just gradually add connectivity to more and more items.
IEEE Transmitter: Who will be creating new IoT devices?
WW: I don’t expect just one company to pioneer connectivity, instead various manufacturers of existing products will gradually add connectivity to their product lines. I would expect IoT capability to be an extra initially, over time gradually replacing the controls on the device itself and changing its functionality.
IEEE Transmitter: What types of products do you see getting the IoT treatment?
WW: Almost anything. If there is a benefit in it being connected, then it will eventually be connected. Broadly, anything that plugs into the electric mains is a strong candidate, if nothing else to monitor and control its energy usage. Anything with electronics in it, even if battery powered, is another candidate. I cannot see a reason for giving tables and chairs IoT connectivity but monitoring household plants for soil moisture is already happening.
IEEE Transmitter: How important are security concerns when it comes to more IoT products in the home?
WW: Perhaps not as important as people think. Of course we don’t want our homes “hacked” or our privacy compromised. Neither do we want to be burgled because it has become possible to open doors electronically. But equally, I don’t expect anyone to even try to hack into my fridge – what would be the gain for them?
We have had connected Nest thermostats for some time without security concerns. If someone wants to know whether the house has been unoccupied for a week or more, there are easier ways than hacking into the smart dustbin. That’s not to say we should be complacent – clearly not. And we should design everything to be as secure as possible as a matter of course. But I doubt the market for smart lighting will succeed or fail on the strength of its security.
IEEE Transmitter: How do you think IoT designs will become integrated into everyday life?
WW: In just the way smart thermostats already are integrated. With the introduction of new hardware which can be accessed via smartphones, apps will then coordinate things around us. Looking at the NEST thermostat is a good case study for how things might evolve.
IEEE Transmitter: What types of technologies do you see being used in IoT products?
WW: All sorts! On the wireless connectivity side it will likely be Bluetooth or WiFi in the home and wide-area IoT standards outside.
IEEE has created an interactive 360 degree IoT Home of the Future for you to explore our smart home predictions.