IoT Evolution

Internet of Things is gaining popularity worldwide, including Poland. Which business sectors can benefit from this emerging technology?

Smart devices have already transformed our daily life. This is not only the case of consumer electronics, but the global digital trend followed by industry leaders and enterprises. The statistical consumer is familiar with smart house systems, wearables tracking our fitness activity and overall condition as well as specially designed solutions for precise measurement of glucose or oxygen levels in our blood.

The industrial sector gained a significant boost of awareness towards automation of processes and development of innovations, both heavily depending on IoT combined with e.g. Artificial Intelligence or Cloud. As an example of such innovation, we can use an autonomous vehicle, which is a great example of multi-purpose applications taking advantage of AI and IoT.

Let`s take a look at electric cars, which can be spotted way more often than self-driving cars. Since they need to be charged, drivers will be able to use a growing network of publicly available charging points. After authorization, IoT will allow using smart and secured services like e.g payment services.

We can name other cases and examples like intelligent manufacturing floors for the production sector, smart metering solutions for the utility providers, or this could be a way to improve the efficiency of green energy generation with predictive maintenance for wind turbines. The list of IoT-driven business ideas is never-ending.

What was the impact of coronavirus on the IoT market? Where is the market heading next?

Corona crisis turned our way of living and working upside down. On one hand, we had to deal with lockdown, on the other, we experienced the acceleration of digitalization like never before. New needs have arisen:

  • Monitoring of the coronavirus outbreak
  • Preventive actions
  • Drawing conclusions based on massive amounts of data from various sources e.g. our mobiles, which say a lot about our habits, places we visit, people we meet, and the way we live. The data were collected on a scale never experienced before.

From the perspective of industry, the reasonable way was to use technology like IoT to automate processes and work on the development of self-organizing business not depending on human interaction, especially during the lockdown.

IoT vendors responded to the increasing demand with extended offerings not only focusing on hardware but also software to make the best use of the data gathered or exchanged by the devices. However, before we can reach this point the collected data need to be stored, explored, aggregated, and optimized. This has been the main challenge of the digital transformation, we are currently witnessing.

IoT devices collect enormous amount of data about us. Who can access such data and is it dangerous for us, as the users of these devices?

From everlasting, human lives in compromise between his life comfort zone and safety. Thanks to cloud solutions we have started sharing more data about ourselves. For example, we have been sharing the information, where we are, what we buy, who we meet with, etc. It is because, the Cloud and its applications simplify our daily life.

Let’s put another example here: keyless car opening. Many of us simply can not live without this functionality nowadays. Slowly, we do forget what the car-key is, although we can hear about potential danger caused by similar “remote” solutions.

All in all, correlated data simplifies our life, however it is dangerous from the potential cyberattack point of view. That is why, it is so important to be aware of whom and what data is shared. By the way, it is enough to realize our common sense and self-awareness of which data we share and which not. Because we do not realize the fact that most often trivial, uncorrelated data in combination with other data (e.g. taken from social-network channels) can generate a fairly accurate profile of our behavior, preferences and habits. This in turn helps a potential criminal to prepare an attack against us. That is why it is so important to constantly work on mechanisms that allow us to secure information about us in a proper way.

First of all, we should be careful with whom and what data we share. It is also important if a given organization is able to maintain transparency in relation to: what data it collects, for how long, or does it allow us to clean this data at any time upon our request? Another question is, whether this data is personalized or anonymized. For example, Google map does not need to store the personal data on Mr. Kowalski (his personal profile and his account details), when taking measurements on the traffic jam on the highway.

How to secure IoT world? Would Blockchain help here?

Single devices in use by Mr. Kowalski are not any more the target for the cyberattacks. The hackers focus their activities more often on entire organizations collecting this data or larger companies. A data leak from such organization destroys its social reliability, which in turn may cause for shutting down its business at all.

This is already a better target for entire hackers’ groups, because it triggers a wish for larger amount of money to extort.

Therefore, such companies that are also IoT data aggregators have to continuously look for security solutions. Decentralized systems (such as blockchain) are one of the alternatives to secure the data. The decentralization of data collection points, any kind of protection against data modification (without leaving a sign of hackers’ activity) seem to be the right direction this IoT world should evolve. Is it the only one? Probably not.

How will the IoT world evolve in the future, together with its security?

First of all, let’s take a note what is the difference between the IoT we have used so far and the IoT we are have been developing for the future perspective. The trends we have been developing drive towards dynamic decentralization, where IoT devices communicate directly with each other without any intermediate point (human, DataCenter). The devices inform each other about certain local events. Such events can affect the inter-operation of the other devices in given geographic location.

Naturally, they will generate more traffic among one another, and they will also analyze sensitive data within single device. Based on their own analysis, the devices will autonomously take the decisions and trigger appropriate automatic actions. It will all take place in the device itself. It does not have to go to a central server or cloud. So we will evolve towards so-called EDGE Computing, or EDGE IoT.

One of the examples could be a wind turbine (one of the projects we are currently working on). Such a turbine measures in parallel the weather conditions and autonomously can stop itself if the weather gets down (hurricane).

Another example, Tesla can detect holes in the road or local icing and store this information not only for itself (EDGE), but to share this information with others (CLOUD). And such a hybrid cooperation between EDGE and CLOUD will develop very dynamically in the future.

This is where enormous computing power is needed inside a car and enormous bandwidth of telecommunications networks for the connectivity purposes. So that the entire layer of Artificial Intelligence can operate safely in the car itself.

What is more, in this business and technological domain security is a very extensive topic.

The examples we quoted above show that the IoT world will rather develop itself towards decentralized ecosystems. There will be introduced dedicated mechanisms to allowing for confirmation or authorization whether the data is actually sent from the device that we expect this data to come from. It will be obligatory to encrypt the data and verify its integrity, whether it has been modified anywhere on the way. The data will be sent only over the secure channels, and definitely not as a plain text, as it still happens.

Marcin Mizgalski