Posted by Jim Martin 21 November 2014
What the Internet of Things will look like in 2015: homes will get smarter, people might get fitter
The Internet of Things, or IoT as geeks like to refer to it, sounds mysterious but is in fact very easy to understand. Previously, only computers and networking equipment had a connection to the internet, but these days so many devices have the capacity to be online - including everyday 'things' such as your heating thermostat - that an Internet of Things is being created.
It isn't only devices with an IP address which count as a 'thing'. Any uniquely identifiable computing device is part of the Internet of Things, so it includes Bluetooth gadgets such as activity trackers.
Of course, it isn't only wearable devices we're talking about: smart electricity meters and other new tech comes under the IoT umbrella and things are about to hot up during 2015.
You've probably noticed the many adverts for smart thermostats on TV, on public transport and in newspapers. They let you control your heating from anywhere you've got an internet connection so you can turn it on if you're heading home from holiday early, or turn it off if you forgot when you left the house. Thanks to deals with energy suppliers where you can get one free, smart thermostats are set to become hugely popular in 2015. See also:7 best smart heating systems
Smart meters are already rolling out, but many more will be installed in 2015. This is a government initiative and aims to have all UK homes and businesses kitted out with one by 2020. Smart meters will remove the need for you - or the man from the supplier - to read your gas and electricity meters so they can bill you for how much you've used. Smart meters will be read remotely, so the days of an estimated bill will finally be over.
Another benefit is that you'll be able to see more easily how much energy your appliances are using, and what it's costing you, hopefully helping you to save money.
Home monitoring also extends to safety and security, and 2015 will see the launch of easy to install and use cameras and sensors. These could include smoke and carbon monoxide alarms (such as the Nest Protect) as well as security systems which are smarter than your existing burglar alarm.
We're sure we'll also see affordable smart entry systems which let you and other 'authorised' people into your home. The current lock-and-key system works fine until you lose your keys or you want to let visitors in before you arrive home. Prototypes exist right now, but as with the other smart systems here, some people are worried they could be hacked into and misused.
Another example is location tracking. We'll see more and more smart devices which can help you keep track of your stuff. Small, low-cost tags could even be embedded into suitcases, clothing or attached to practically anything of value, and be trackable online.
The challenges for manufacturers include increasing battery life from months or years to decades, which will also involve using processors, communications devices and sensors that use much less power than they do now.
BT will start rolling out a dedicated Internet of Things network using ultra-narrowband, which is suited to sending small amounts of data over great distances.
It's hard to believe but analysts say that there will be 25 billion 'connected' devices by the end of 2015. How many will you have?