The internet of things is overhyped and should instead be called the internet with things. These are just two of the remarks made by technology leaders speaking on a panel in London yesterday. (See also: What is the Internet of Things?)
Nigel Beighton, VP of technology at Texas-headquartered Rackspace, said there are a number of issues that need to be addressed before everyday items like socks and milk packaging are connected to the internet, adding that it’s unlikely they will be addressed during the current generation’s lifetime.
Security, standards, trust and privacy all stand in the way of connecting every item to the internet, said Beighton.
“I get the vision but I’m sceptical of the timescales,” he said at an Internet of Things event called Connecting the Chaos. “Some people say three years…but it will require huge political change and the internet can’t deal with it. The internet was never designed to deal with [having] everything connected.”
Mat Keep, product manager at database provider MongoDB, added certain items and machines will be connected in certain industries within three to five years, pointing specifically to manufacturing and farming. But connectivity across a wide range of consumer devices is much further out, he believes.
“At the moment we’re talking about the internet with things,” said Jon Collins, director and principal consultant, at Inter Orbis. “Not the Internet of Things.”
The remarks come as vendors like Cisco and Mediatek push marketing initiatives like the “internet of everything” that proclaim every day items like fridges and lights will soon be connected to the internet.
Cisco, which creates the hardware and platforms that underpin connected devices, is telling businesses that the global internet of things market is a $19 trillion (£12 trillion) opportunity and that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020.
Healthcare, pollution and transport could all be greatly improved if there were trusted platforms that people were willing to share data over, according to Beighton, but this is far from today’s reality.
Instead, Beighton believes there will be isolated “communities of things” that are connected to the internet, largely because they will all work on different standards, thereby meaning they can't talk to each other.
Keep said governments have a role to play in connecting things to the internet, adding that UK spend on the Internet of Things (roughly £40 million) is dwarfed by Germany, a nation spending billions on IoT research and development.
“They’re concerned about losing their manufacturing to other low cost countries,” said Keep. “They put a lot of money into research.”
A number of UK startups are aiming to launch businesses off the idea that everything is connected to the internet. One such company is opensensors.io, founded by Yodit Stanton.
Stanton said the UK government is keen to help startups like hers but claimed that it moves too slowly.
“I think there is a will,” she said. “But the pace they move at for me as a startup is too slow. Six months is a lifetime. We have to move. That kind of connection isn’t there in terms of understanding the pace.”