The Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are still considered to be ‘new technologies’ in the IT sector but they have been buzzwords in the industry for several years now, so when do they become mainstream?
Like most technical innovations, mass adoption depends on ‘killer apps’; uses for the technologies that many organisations need and want, so that the innovations become pervasive and this may be close at hand for IoT, VR and AR.
IoT – everything is connected
Until recently IoT hasn’t been mass-market. There’s been lots of headlines and R&D ideas, most notably on Smart Cities, like San Diego - https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/san-diego-smart-city-technology/ - but for most in the IT sector it’s been a ‘tomorrow’ concept. It is though silently creeping into our daily lives, driven by consumer demand and smartphone functionality; effectively the smartphone has become the IoT remote control.
The very nature of IoT and the endless possibilities though mean that it’s difficult to pigeonhole and the current plethora of sensor, gateway and platform choices make it difficult to navigate at outset.
In the consumer market Nest® broke new ground in Smart Meters. Founded by Tony Fadell, the acknowledged ‘Father of the iPod’, Nest devices work with Google Home® and Apple HomeKit® to provide a range of functions on relatively inexpensive hardware. Temperature, lighting, security cameras, doorbell video and even garden sprinklers can be pre-programmed, automated and remotely controlled. Most utility companies are partnered with Nest and similar vendors to offer Smart Meters as part of the service – see https://www.first-utility.com/smart-meters as an example.
In SME, Enterprise and Industry, the choices are more complex but that is evolving rapidly with solutions appearing that allow IT companies to package IoT for a variety of use- cases. Market consolidation and competition is also simplifying IoT considerably.
So, what’s the downside with IoT? Well, as with most technology in recent years it’s the security aspect. Every connection is a potential threat and the more devices, the bigger the threat. Security management is of huge importance to IoT and security must be at the core of every use-case design, especially when connected devices are physically accessible to a much wider potential population.
‘we live in a world of many clouds, where everything is connected, and it needs to be secure.’
IoT feels like cloud did ten years ago. It's where IT partners can add real value – by designing and integrating a range of technologies to provide a solution with significant benefits, principally efficiencies, cost savings and productivity gains. All with a measurable return on investment and invariably, with cloud as the foundation, as-a-service.
VR – Ready Player 1?
Ask most people what they think about VR and they immediately associate it with video games. Hardly surprising given that, like IoT, this has also been consumer-driven and smartphone AR is becoming more prevalent but I truly believe that AR and VR have much to offer the business-world.
Ever done an audio tour around a museum or attraction like the Natural History Museum, the Louvre or Alcatraz? Think of that in AR terms and the experience can be taken to another level.
Most repeatable experiences can benefit from VR/AR so consider also the possibilities for training. Any form of classroom or in-person training to set curricula can benefit from AR to display examples in addition to the spoken tuition. Integration of virtual illustrations, images, movies and additional material enhances the learning experience and knowledge retention. Invariably ‘seeing’ has a greater impact that ‘hearing’ and the ability to interrogate, replay, revisit and drill-down through detail is significant.
On closer examination, the benefits become clear - many learning experiences and training can be automated where people can walk around an environment and be ‘taught’ on the move, learning and exploring at their own pace with pre-programmed features to explore further by virtual touch. The benefits of on-the-job training are enormous in terms of productivity but a mixed personal/ VR training experience guarantees a higher consistency of delivery too.
VR/AR has the potential to completely revolutionise the training market.
the pure technology group will launch IoT and VR in 2018.