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October 20, 2014

The Internet of Things is in chaos and immaturity

Too many players, ecosystems and standards in the market say analysts.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

The Internet of Things (IoT) is in a period of chaos and immaturity as there are too many standards, players and ecosystems to connect the billions of devices and applications together.

That is according to leading analysts, who said the chips, sensors and wireless technologies at the centre of the emerging market are facing "significant challenges".

At a MediaTek panel discussion held in London last week, Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight, said: "How do you manage the security to make everything connected? There are competing standards, competing ecosystems right now and lots of point solutions coming out of the crowdfunding space.

"We’re in a period of chaos and immaturity and we going to see how it evolves."

Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research, said: "There are significant challenges and one that is rising to the top right now is security of that data at almost every level, which is going to be critical.

"The biggest problem is extending the network as there are so many opportunities for intrusions. We have different standards in the network for security and different standards on the device, so trying to bring standards together and taking it all the way down to micro controller level is really a huge challenge."

Peter Hutton, ARM, Executive VP of ARM’s Product Group, added: "The other problem with security is that there are so many new people coming into this market they don’t know how to implement secure devices.

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"Another challenge we’re trying to address is trying to get some standardisation. I really don’t want to be supporting multiple IoT deployments in the house, it has to be about scale.

It comes not too long after analyst firm Gartner branded the IoT as the most over-hyped technology in development today, while research from Beecham Research said that there are insufficient security capabilities within emerging IoT standards to manage the long life-cycles expected of many IoT devices.

And HP also found that three-quarters of all IoT devices are susceptible to getting hacked or compromised.

The panel also highlighted that IoT applications and appliances in the industrial space would kick off before an uptake in the consumer market.

This is because it usually takes three to five years from when you introduce a new technology or platform in order to reach mass market appeal, according to Tirias’s McGregor.

"Everything has to evolve: the usage models, the technology, the ecosystem," he explained.

"So it’s great to look at all the consumer applications but it’s still going to take time. Over the next 12 months, I think the real exciting stuff is really in the industrial space, in the vertical segments because these guys see the system end-to-end.They see from the sensor trough to the complete network.

"So applications such as automotive, medical, industrial automation and also smart cities," he said.

ARM’s Hutton added: "It does take three to five years to get this stuff out…The next 12 to 24 months is a tough task. I think it might be less chaotic at the lower level"

CCS Insight’s Wood said the wearable tech industry is in the "stone age" and that devices were reminiscent of mobile phones from the 80s, "which were terrible".

"Wearables are at that phase of intense innovation, experimentation and chaos. I’m the jewel in all this terrible technology junk. It’s far from clear to me. The one thing that seems to be a very pervasive piece of this is health and well being.

"But I’m even a little sceptical about whether that’s just for personal rationalisation. I can buy this and it will make me feel better, rather than I’m spending this disposable income on gadget bling."

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