CIoT – The Next Frontier In Consumer Technology
In an ever-connected world, we’re accustomed to having the internet on our phones, on our computers and our tablets. However, a new wave of connected devices is slowly encroaching into our daily lives.
These are Internet of Things (IoT) devices that supposedly help make our lives better and more connected. It’s the ultimate Silicon Valley dream: ever-further digital integration into the world we know and love. The newest keyword now on the lips of technologists in the world of devices is CIoT, the Consumer Internet of Things.
The countries dominating in development and integration of CIoT are the USA and China. China now has one billion connected CIoT devices in circulation.
The UK is lagging behind somewhat in this field. According to the GSMA, 25bn CIoT devices will be deployed by 2025. But even now, In the UK, 1 in 5 homes have some form of CIoT device. I imagine most of these are devices like the Amazon Alexa, Google Smart Home and the Apple Home Pod, but startups and innovators are creating new use cases all the time.
According to Utility Week, smart thermostats are now in 1.5 million UK homes! An impressive feat when you think that the technologies have only been around for eight years and there are only five or six major players in the sector.
According to review site T3 the top smart thermostat devices in the UK include:
For a large number of developers and device creators, there was a lack of dialogue between them and the target end consumers, creating a major challenge of creating products and services of real use to consumers. However, we heard that at Vodafone, they are developing these CIoT technologies with consumers in the room to help solve that issue.
But for me, the major challenge is the complex relationship of trust between the consumer, the device and the service provider. I have three smart devices; my smartphone (I tell Siri to shut up at least once a week when It eavesdrops into conversations); my laptop and my smart TV. Some of the attendees at the event who work in IoT, privately admitted to me that they are going on digital detoxes and limit the number of devices in their homes.
Talking to a range of experts in the room, it appeared that there was little support for One device, One function use case. There was also a consensus that data, not devices, should be the currency, as rapid device obsolescence is likely to become a massive problem for service providers.
We already have too many apps on our phones. We use fewer apps daily and monthly than you might think. According to TechCrunch research, the average number of apps we use daily is nine and monthly is 30. This means apps that are connected to CIoT devices have to have real day-to-day usefulness. There is also a desired outcome for CIoT devices to run autonomously, without the need for user interaction. For example knowing to open your gate when your car is close to the gate itself, or turning on your kettle when you come down for coffee in the morning (an element of learning from habits that are unique to each user).
CIoT companies who have been significant players in the sector so far have been set-up to serve consumers, such as Nest, Honeywell and Hive. However, energy companies are well placed to take a leading role. Think about British Gas; Centrica has over 10,000 engineers roaming the country fixing boilers and helping customers with their energy needs. That is what I call a vast distribution network!
Octopus Energy has taken it a step further. Their smart meter takes readings from the UK gas market every 30mins. Which, according to them, means customers benefit from green renewable energy tariffs.
The automotive industry is at the forefront of CIoT. If you buy a new car now, you cannot escape from the connected world as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are integrated into your auto as part of their systems. It is a shame that automotive depends on the silicon valley behemoths to innovate. It feels as if they are selling out a bit as the data they are collecting is going to help these two companies become major auto manufacturers themselves essentially. That said, companies like Remoto by Bright Box, a company acquired by Zurich in 2018, has developed a telematics smart device system that empowers users with a 360-degree car management system — enabling them to get better deals, servicing and more in-depth insights on driving efficiencies.
Data crunching will enable the next wave of tech. However, shorter 5G wavelengths are going to make distribution very difficult, especially in rural communities. 4G wavelengths are 10miles, with 5G that goes down to 1,000ft, which is a massive problem as areas of high population density will benefit first.
We all like getting our hands on the latest gadgets. We all like to have the newest thing. While this is great, it isn’t very sustainable… Think about every single smartphone, smart fridge and smart home device ever bought over the past five years will be considered obsolete in the five years after that… which is incredibly concerning when we consider that the planet is running out of resources.
Devices and services based on bi-lateral industry collaboration will have to become the norm. Consumers are moving to subscription models, IoT device manufacturers.
Data is the new oil. IoT device and service providers need to reflect this in their business models, to reduce waste, improve data quality and portability to enhance consumer choice and accelerate the advancement of these devices.
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