The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at an exponential rate and being embraced by companies in every sector. Increasingly, IoT technology is providing practical solutions and operational enhancements in both industry and commerce. Gartner predicts that the amount of IoT connected devices will jump from 8 to 20 billion between 2018 and 2020.

Here are three trends to look out for next year as more and more devices enter the IoT network:

IoT continues to revolutionize manufacturing

IoT devices are pivotal to the next industrial revolution, as they can increase efficiency at every level of the supply chain. Whether providing real-time data on factory equipment to avoid malfunctions or transmitting data from client products directly back to the factory shop floor, IoT is providing a host of exciting opportunities for leading manufacturers.

According to Forbes, market analysts expect the number of connected devices used in the manufacturing industry to double between 2017 and 2020. This growth will be particularly pronounced in the vehicle industry, where consumers increasingly purchase connected vehicles; that is, vehicles fitted with IoT sensors which can transmit real-time information on the car’s activity (fuel consumption, traffic information, tire pressure) directly to an app on a consumer device.

The advantages of IoT in the manufacturing industry are threefold. Firstly, it allows companies to streamline their inventory management by providing on a central platform on which all IoT sensors can be connected and monitored remotely. Second, the manufacturer can access diagnostic information transmitting directly from a consumer’s product and can use that information to design strategies to boost the performance and safety of a particular product. Third, manufacturers can leverage a constant stream of information to carry out faster repairs and avoid potential malfunctions.

All of this adds up to significant cost reductions and a much more agile factory floor environment. Therefore, in 2019 we expect continued heavy investments by major manufacturers in IoT technology.

New cyber threats, but improved security

As our reliance on IoT devices grows, so does our vulnerability to sinister hacks from cyber attackers. Despite its numerous benefits, The Internet of Things is notorious for having weak security, and this will need to change if we want to protect the vast amounts of often sensitive data stored on IoT platforms.

In the context of smart cities, for example, many urban areas currently fail to adequately secure connected devices, sensors and communication technology. This means a host of sensitive information, such as messaging between public institutions, could be harvested by hackers. Equally, hackers could take control of city infrastructure remotely controlled by IoT devices, such as public safety sensors, street or traffic lights and radiation sensors, and cause major destabilization for city services.

Until now, the security of these technologies has been an afterthought. But with an increasing awareness of the vulnerabilities of IoT technologies, in 2019 we should begin to see the emergence of more rigorous security measures in order to mitigate threats from cyber attackers.

P2P based Internet of Things (IoT)

Finally, we expect to see a growth in peer-to-peer (P2P) based IoT in 2019. P2P IoT allows users to control IoT devices directly from their applications and to stream data to and from those devices in a safe and secure manner. Each device has its own vendor-specific ID, meaning users can bypass firewalls and dynamic IP addresses and instead achieve direct, real-time connectivity between their device and IoT sensors.

Privacy concerns from both consumers and the political and legal environment, as well as a general desire to deliver better and more responsive products to consumers, are the two main factors which will drive the growth of P2P-based IoT.

Privacy: taking ownership of data at the end-user level

Internet end users are increasingly worried about privacy. This includes general data concerns, such as usage patterns from social media, cookie tracking and browser history, as well as the personal information that household data sensors upload to the Internet. Such concerns have reached the political level, where the European Union has taken the lead by enacting the General Data Protection Regulation, in May 2018. The GDPR is an EU regulation which aims to prevent violations of end-user personal data, with non-compliance penalties of up to €20 million or 4 percent of annual turnover, depending on which sum is higher.

The size of these fines will make any company think twice about what sensor data they wish to store. Even if a business chooses to assume this responsibility and store data, the GDPR includes strict rules that enforce non-trivial functionally on such systems.

In the P2P IoT based solution all data and data processing is done on devices where ownership normally has been passed to the end-user. The end-user owns and manages the data themselves and for this reason data privacy is completely in the hands of the end-user.

Faster responses and less latency

As with any tech, in the early days of IoT you could easily impress end users with data that  eventually appeared in your applications after several seconds or occasionally minutes of refreshing. Since then, technology has evolved and now users expect the responsiveness of IoT to be as fast as any other system. According to research on user interface experiences, “0.1 second is the response time limit if you want users to feel like their actions are directly causing something to happen on the screen.” This type of responsiveness is only possible using P2P IoT, as device interactions using server-based IoT typically have latency times  of over one second. P2P IoT addresses this problem and delivers the shortest possible response time for such systems.

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