Imagine waking up in the morning and your alarm on your device has looked at your diary, checked your schedule and worked out how long it will take you to get to work based on the current traffic conditions. Your device will know what the weather is like and suggest what you could wear for a comfortable day. Your home sensors will have adjusted your geyser and air conditioner to the current weather conditions and your cappuccino will be ready by the time you get out the shower.
This is the internet’s next revolution.
Google is up to something. In the last few months they have been making some interesting acquisitions that are going to bolster them for what appears to be their next strategy and the next phase of the internet.
The Internet of Things is a mesh of connected devices that are constantly providing information into a central nervous system. Imagine billions of devices embedded with sophisticated sensors that are coupled with computing power providing valuable information to use in our everyday lives.
According to Gartner, the Internet of Things which excludes PCs, tablets and smartphones, will grow to 26 billion units installed in 2020. This is a massive increase when you consider that in 2009 there were just fewer than one billion connected devices. Gartner predicts that product and service suppliers will generate revenues exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services, by 2020. It will also result in $1.9 trillion global economic market focusing on value-add services through sales into diverse end markets.
“By 2020, component costs will have come down to the point that connectivity will become a standard feature, even for processors costing less than $1. This opens up the possibility of connecting just about anything, from the very simple to the very complex, to offer remote control, monitoring, and sensing,” said Peter Middleton, research director at Gartner.
These connected devices are going to add incredible value to our lives if used properly. For businesses it means better efficiencies and controls, which will lead to improved safety and security through the use of real-time data models. Combining these connected sensors in a smart building will result in a greener environment.
This is the piece of the pie that Google wants, and their recent trail of acquisitions give a clear indication of this.
Recently Google acquired a company called Nest for $3.2 billion. According to Nest, “we take the unloved products in your home and make simple, beautiful, thoughtful things”. And they have certainly revolutionised the traditional thermostat and smoke detector.
The Nest thermostat learns your schedule and programs itself accordingly, without you adjusting your home temperature settings. By doing this they claim they can lower energy costs by up to 20%.
In January Google also acquired a company called Imperium, which focuses on cyber security, and a company called DeepMind Technologies that specialises in artificial intelligence, for $650 million.
Prior to these acquisitions Google went on a spending spree in December buying no less than six companies that focus on robotics and make anything from wheels, to cameras and arms.
During 2013 they also purchased companies that did natural language processing, cloud computing, gesture recognition, GPS navigation, and a company that analyses data like speed, location, and nearby devices on smartphones.
Google has spent at least $6 billion on companies that are aimed at connecting into the Internet of Things, and this is just the beginning of their acquisition spree.
My prediction is that Google will aggressively target health and fitness technologies during 2014. There are a plethora of companies that are doing some amazing things that will change healthcare as we know it.
Sensors will become even more sophisticated, and Google’s strategy is very clear – join the dots and have access to those 20 billion connections in the next decade.
Making is sense of all this data is of course the biggest challenge. You have billions of devices sharing huge amounts of information into a cloud that need to be analysed effectively in a secure environment.
Google is a company to watch.