Love it or hate it, the Apple Watch, introduced last fall and fully unveiled at a press event yesterday, signals the mainstreaming of wearables specifically, but, more importantly, the Internet of Things (IoT) in general. It wasn’t just the Apple Watch that the company announced yesterday, either. They also announced ResearchKit, an open source framework for collecting data that leverages the ubiquity of iOS to collect medical research data at scale.
This all comes after last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where connected devices and IoT were more prominent than ever before. Leading up to MWC, Forrester analyst Dan Bieler explained: "The long-anticipated marriage between big data and mobility is finally happening - and I expect just about every vendor at MWC to claim a stake in these mobile wedding arrangements.” We heard announcements about connected cars, Apple Watch competitors, smart city initiatives, asset tracking, and more. Perhaps more importantly, there was considerable buzz about the 5G cellular networks that will be required to make this all happen at scale.
Let’s take a step back though and look beyond the consumer hype. IoT isn’t an especially new concept. People have been talking about practical machine-to-machine (M2M) communications for over 40 years and connected devices have been appearing in large numbers in vertical markets like healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, and petroleum for more than a decade. Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion in early 2014 and have been advancing the smart home technologies that came with the company ever since.
“Great!” you say... we’re getting energy-efficient homes, smarter transportation grids, and safer mining from the Internet of Things. Apple is going to revolutionize medical research with legions of iPhone users. Telemedicine and home health care are dramatically improving access to state of the art care. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is good stuff... except...