We may soon find ourselves in a phase of exponential acceleration towards a globally connected physical world
Matt Truck, FirstMark VC

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a growing landscape of connected devices and systems that is becoming more disparate by the minute.

According to IDC, worldwide spending on the IoT is forecast to reach $772.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 14.6% over the $674 billion spent in 2017 (1).

Simply defined, the IoT refers to connecting hardware and devices to the internet, and having them communicate with each other. At consumer level, this could mean a smart fridge which connects to your WiFi and messages you to tell you when you need milk. At industrial level it could mean embedding sensors into heavy machinery that can detect faults and send alerts, preventing costly downtime and potential safety risks.


Internet of things infographic

The data made available from such interactions can be extracted and analysed to automate tasks and processes. The connections made possible by these interactions lie at the heart of the IoT.

However, the price of such connectivity is clear - once devices become ‘smart’ they are vulnerable to cyber attack, leaving homes, vehicles, public bodies and enterprises at greater risk of compromise than ever before, with more serious consequences. Our security technologies must keep up with the speed of IoT growth.

This is where biometrics is becoming a leading info and cybersecurity player.

Five Key Trends for 2018

1. AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already visible in the consumer market, helping services understand what customers want and interacting with them in a human way. The rise of virtual assistants is one of the most prominent developments we’ve seen, with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.

In 2018, we’re going to see companies use AI for even greater real-time, automated decision making, built on the data that the IoT is producing.

Voice platforms and personal digital assistants will accelerate, with Amazon already looking to deploy Alexa onto third party services, spreading their influence and creating an ecosystem beyond the Echo hardware, and the release of Apple’s Homepod.

The disruptive potential of machine learning also looks set to grow, particularly for knowledge-based industries including law, accountancy and other professional services.

High costs and inefficiencies will be challenged by task automation.

2. Smart Vehicles

Today’s car has the computing power of 20 personal computers, features about 100 million lines of programming code, and processes up to 25 gigabytes of data an hour
– McKinsey, ‘What’s Driving the Connected Car’, 2014

A connected car could see you unlocking the vehicle with a wearable device instead of a key, and using ECG biometrics through your steering wheel or iris recognition in your rearview mirror to load a personal profile into the car to set your preferred environment. Connection with payments services make refuelling or passing through toll areas seamless, authenticating and storing biometric credentials.

Technology and car manufacturers partnerships look set to hot up in 2018 in the race to deliver the ultimate connected vehicle to market. Hyundai has revealed it is to invest almost $22bn into the latest connected car technology while Ford has just committed to 100% connectivity in all new vehicles in the U.S. by next year and 90% connectivity globally by the following year.

3. Industrial IoT

Not all IoT developments are in the consumer space. The industrial IoT (IIoT) is growing too, from factories to hospitals, with the value of the IIoT market expected to reach $933.62 billion by 2025. (2)

IIoT is already being developed in heavy industries include oil and gas, with exploration around machines that self-diagnose and automated inventory ordering. We’re also seeing advancements for employees themselves in industry, for example using ECG biometric solutions embedded into smartwear that can monitor their health and wellbeing on-site, helping bolster safety and wellness in hazardous working conditions.

Forrester has named 2018 the year that IIoT moves from experimentation to business scale. (3)

It predicts that in 2018 we’ll see a move away from generic hardware and software into platforms designed specifically for use in industry verticals.

4. Blockchain

The utility of blockchain is already being explored outside of its Bitcoin and cryptocurrency applications.

IDC Health Insights predicts that 20% of healthcare organisations will have moved beyond pilot projects and will have operationalised blockchain by 2020 - expect movement this year. (4)

HR and recruitment is experimenting with blockchain CVs that streamline their hiring processes and traditional legal processes, such as transferring property ownership, with digital distributed ledgers.

In 2018 we’re likely to see more experimentation around how blockchain can record and manage the enormous volumes of data being produced by the IoT.

5. Data Analytics

"The blessing, and possibly the curse, of the staggering rate that companies are deploying IoT sensors is the vast amounts of data that is produced when tracking things in real-time.” Neil Barton, CTO of data infrastructure automation specialist WhereScape

Businesses are struggling with the challenge more than the opportunity when it come to IoT data.

2018 will see more effort being concentrated on creating data networks to draw actionable insights from the data we are collecting, that can be used to create meaningful, real time automation.

In particular, we could see more open data networks, as companies open up their systems to keep apace with IoT advancement.

ECG Biometric Authentication with B-Secur

Securing the Heart of the IoT

The connectivity and data sharing underpinning the IoT is proving to be a mounting challenge.

Connecting our homes and cars, industrial machines and knowledge-based industries to the internet creates not just greater convenience but greater risk.

Security is the dominant arc over all IoT activity expected in 2018, and biometric authentication is a key area earmarked for growth.

Biometric authentication offers inherent security, particularly the second generation of internal metrics including ECG authentication.

A multimodal approach, using two or more biometric identifiers for positive identification, could be the most secure means we have currently have to protect the IoT and its data.

It’s always difficult to make predictions with authority, particularly when technology is changing at such an exponential pace, but what we can predict with certainty is that the IoT is working to become smoother and seamless with greater autonomy, and that using biometric data as an authenticator can create a strong and trustworthy pathway to that goal.

Learn more about biometric authentication

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