IoT, or the Internet of Things, has become a hot topic in recent years. Smart devices and everyday objects have merged, and it is estimated that by the end of 2018, there will be over 6 billion internet-connected items worldwide. This is a significant jump from the number of IoT devices just a few years ago. It is predicted that the number could exceed 20 billion by the year 2020.
Despite its growth, IoT is still in its infancy and it will be a while before it fully matures. IoT has been incorporated into wearable devices, home security, and everyday conveniences. However, obsolescence has always been a concern when it comes to new technology.
The Apple Watch is one of the most recent examples of this phenomenon. Introduced in 2015, the Series 1 Apple Watch will become obsolete once the newest iOS update is released in Fall 2018. For a device that sold for as much as $10,000 when it debuted, it is disheartening that such an expensive device will be virtually useless in just three short years.
IoT devices rely heavily on hardware that makes it difficult to make major changes later without a complete overhaul. This is cost-prohibitive for both consumers or manufacturers. It seems that the short-term solution would be for consumers to simply limit how much they spend on new IoT devices, but it’s not that simple. Here, we’ll discuss why IoT devices face obsolescence and identify some possible solutions.
Major Problems Concerning IoT devices
On the surface, changing technology doesn’t seem to be a big deal since consumers usually just buy another device when their current one no longer works. If security is a concern, the IoT device can just be recalled or a software patch can handle the situation. However, this does not always address the issue.
The scope of the problem goes beyond entertainment devices. In March 2018, the FDA issued a warning about Internet-controlled cardiac pacemakers due to security concerns and the inability to update the firmware. In that case, swapping the device with a newer version was not a practical option. This caused the manufacturers to reconsider the practicality of using IoT in medical devices.
Since the Internet of Things has been incorporated into so many things we use every day, fast-moving technology presents a real problem. For example, some smart cars have IoT systems that could face obsolescence much sooner than standard vehicles. Currently, many IoT-controlled sensors are hard to access, making it difficult and even dangerous to replace or upgrade parts. This difficulty translates to higher repair bills and the inability for consumers to save money by making repairs themselves.
Security is also a huge concern for IoT-enabled devices. For example, hackers accessed the IoT electronic key system at an Austrian hotel, causing guests to be locked out of their rooms. The hackers then demanded a ransom from the hotel and once the crisis was over, the hotel returned to using traditional room keys.
A situation like that is just a glimpse into how the IoT could pose a threat. If you consider that smart devices like smoke detectors, baby monitors, and TVs are in many homes, security breaches could have devastating effects. These kinds of incidents are rare, but cybersecurity experts believe that they will continue to occur because it’s relatively easy to compromise physical objects that are controlled by the Internet.
What Does the Future Hold for IoT Devices?
Engineers and developers have a lot to consider when creating technology for IoT devices. Aside from alienating consumers when their devices no longer work, manufacturers must also think about what could happen if a medical device or vehicle is compromised. Legal implications are certainly possible, and tech companies need to be mindful of how outdated IoT technology can affect both the company and consumers.
Security of IoT-enabled devices should be a top priority. If developers and manufacturers can effectively collaborate, many potential issues can be avoided. The best approach is to look at IoT devices from the everyday consumers’ perspective and design them with the future in mind. Of course, no device is meant to last forever, but improving the process of developing new IoT devices could extend their longevity.
Fascinating new opportunities are expected to happen in the IoT world and keeping devices connected is a prime importance. The future of IoT is definitely exciting and it will be interesting to see if technology can really keep pace.