Soon enough, sensors will be everywhere. Built into billions of devices, they will be the building blocks on which the city of tomorrow stands. The connection between people, processes, data and things will create an infrastructure that will entirely transform even the most everyday of tasks. What was once a futuristic concept - the Internet of Everything (IoE) - is fast becoming a reality.
The effects of IoE are already beginning to change the world around us. In the next few years, when smart devices are expected to become accountable for almost half of all Internet traffic, these changes will truly be felt. In a world in which smart, Internet-connected toothbrushes are already harnessing data to combat plaque, the transformation of other everyday tasks seems entirely tangible.
We don't have to go far to see that IoE is already changing how we live our lives. We're beginning to see connectivity playing a more significant role around the home, with service providers offering remote heating and light controls as relatively low cost add-ons. We're even starting to see various 'smart outlet' applications appear, which enable appliances to be controlled away from the home via a mobile device. So, for instance, an oven can be pre-heated half an hour before you arrive home or a television switched on to deter burglars.
Though it promises to significantly change our lives within the home, the transformative effect of IoE is by no means restricted to this space. Driving is an important part of life for many of us and yet, sadly, so is the fact that roads can be dangerous places. Today, many cars are being built with the technology to automatically break if they sense an obstacle or warn drivers if they are drifting out of lane. Even with this technology, vehicles are, however, blind to other road users. This is something that Dutch design firm Studio Roosegaarde is working to change. Realising that the power of IoE will really come into its own once cars are capable of communicating with other vehicles around them as well as the road itself, it's been working to create smart roads. In the future, these roads will be capable of interacting with traffic, charging vehicles and conserving electricity by only illuminating lights in the presence of cars.
As well as keeping us safe, IoE enabled technology could also make many of the frustrating, time-consuming tasks we frequently experience a thing of the past. Parking analytics tools, for example, could be used to offer drivers suggestions for free spaces near their destination. Similarly, car parks in supermarkets could use sensor-enabled technology to let stores know customers have arrived. The entire supermarket experience is, for that matter, likely to change with the increasingly availability of IoE. Through IoE, stores will be capable of communicating with customer's devices on an opt-in basis, recommending products based on their purchase history, suggesting accompanying dishes and pointing out in-store offers.
IoE can, and will, do far more than provide helpful hints though. Already, supermarkets are developing, and putting into practice, IoE technology to enable automatic replenishment of shelves and easy home delivery. IoE could enable shopping carts to navigate customers to each item and, with the help of data, direct sales assistants to exactly where they are needed most.
Over the next decade we're going to see these changes becoming more ubiquitous. Signs the transformation is already underway can be seen in the kind of technology that's appearing, be it wearable technology, home controls or Bluetooth enabled toothbrushes.
Once such devices can communicate with each other - via the Internet of Everything infrastructure - is when the transformation will be rapid and substantial, creating richer everyday experiences for us all.