Verizon believes that the mass adoption of tech which tracks our location through Internet of Things connected devices is a reality far closer than we believe to be.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept of connecting devices to the Web and to other appliances to make energy use more efficient, appliances more effective and to use data which makes daily lives more convenient. From smart fridges which alert you if temperatures drop too far to keep food fresh to coffee machines which automatically turn on when you wake up and vehicles that 'talk' to each other and share data, IoT is a fledgling industry with much potential.
Cisco estimates that IoT will generate $14.4 trillion in economic activity in the next decade. However, according to Kevin Link, senior vice president and GM China at Verizon Telematics, it is the bridge between IoT and the connected car which has the most potential in today's business environment.
"The intersection between IoT and the car is location. When you think about how people conduct their daily lives, there are hundreds of examples out there where people have created algorithms. If the car is a learning car, it would know in the morning and in the afternoon what I’m doing and where I’m going – ‘I’m going home or I’m going to work’ – and it would change my experience [accordingly]."
For example, if your location is 'the car,' then that connection to a smart home would mean lights could turn off automatically, thermostats could be turned down, and appliances stopped. If the car learns your daily patterns, then it could estimate how far away you were from home, and change appliances in turn -- for example, turning your thermostat back to your preferred level, or turning the coffee maker on in time for you to arrive.
Link says that we are closer than we realize for this vision to become reality, due to the fact that many changes which need to be made are software-related rather than hardware-based. However, there are still challenges for automakers to overcome in terms of creating standards for interoperability, compatibility, safety and security.
On Tuesday, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) joined US President Obama at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, VA where the President underscored the importance of using connected car technology and the research of new vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication technology. The President believes that V2V and V2I could be used to improve the future safety and mobility of our cars, as well as reduce time, waste and fuel.
However, while the convenience of having your coffee turn on as you drive home is an interesting idea, privacy concerns are another factor. Link mentioned the concept of a student's phone automatically turning on silent and back to normal settings based on whether the child was in school or not -- and there is something less than palatable about the idea of being so obviously tracked. In a time where surveillance and tracking has caused public outrage --case in question -- the concept of your daily habits being stored and used by IoT firms will not be to everyone's taste.
"We want this to be safe," Link said. "We don't want people to be able to look at other people's security cameras, or change the lighting in someone's house or car [...] so we've got some things to do, but most of it is software related."