From smart wearables to connected cities – the Internet of Things is about to become an integral part of your daily life. Find out why...

When it comes to the future of tech, Dave Coplin knows his stuff. He’s authored two books – The Rise of the Humans and Business Reimagined – and is currently the CEO (Chief Envisioning Officer) at The Envisioners Ltd, where he provides advice and guidance to organisations around the impact of technology. All of which makes him the man in the know when it comes to IoT (or the ‘Internet of Things) – which is n pretty hot topic right now.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news on Vodafone Social over the past few months, you’ll know that we’ve now got our own range of forward-thinking IoT devices for your home, pets, car and beyond, by the name of V by Vodafone. But we’re keen to dig a little deeper.

It’s why we’ve recently caught up with Dave – to find out where we’re at, where we’re headed, and what the future holds for the Internet of Things…

IoT: Where we’re at

Let’s start with the here and now. In real terms, the ‘Internet of Things’ isn’t exactly a brand new concept, but – as with any tech trend – it is one that has grown and moved on a lot in the years since its coinage.

Think you don’t own any IoT devices? You may be surprised. While ‘IoT’ as a phrase used to conjure up images of talking fridges and connected toasters, in 2018 the acronym simply stands as an umbrella term for how the tech we all use on a daily basis interacts.

“What IoT is really about,” Dave explains, “is making use all of the invisible data that exists around you. IoT makes that hidden data visible, and presents it to you in a way that you can use to either make better decisions (or have better experiences), or to automate some of the mundane tasks that get in the way of us making the most of the moments that matter in our lives.

“And I’d argue that’s already happening,” he adds. To prove it, here are three tech areas where the Internet of Things is already a pretty important component:

1. Wearables

“Many of us have already embraced healthier lifestyles because of small devices on our wrist that enable us to have a better understanding of how our bodies are working,” Dave says.

It’s true; whether that’s the new Apple Watch Series 4 using its eSim tech to let you leave your phone at home when you head to the gym, or our V Kids Watch for children and our SOS band for elderly loved ones, wearables are booming. And it’s the Internet of Things that makes them tick.

2. Home devices

“We’re seeing more and more people want to connect the disparate ‘dumb’ devices that exist in their homes to create a smarter environment,” Dave says. “And this has massively ramped up within the last year or so with the prevalence of smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home.”

That might mean buying smart plugs that let your Google Home or Home Hub speak to your coffee machine, or smart bulbs that turn on when you ask Alexa – the aim, as Dave puts it, is to give you more “control and flexibility” with the devices in every room of your house.”

3. Your smartphone

Yep: your smartphone is also a piece of the Internet of Things puzzle. In fact, as Dave explains, it might be *the* most important part. “The mobile phone is one of the three pillars that makes IoT useful in a consumer context. You need the Internet and you need the things but most importantly you need a common, friendly interface with which to interact with them.

“The phone in our pockets is that interface, and the fact that almost everyone has one makes it possible for us to finally be able to deliver on the promises that the ‘hype’ of IoT has been offering us for years.”

IoT: Your connected future

Ok, so that’s the shape of IoT as we head towards 2019. But what about beyond? In short: the future’s pretty exciting.

Industry Analyst Gartner thinks that the number of IoT devices installed worldwide will hit 20 billion by the year 2020, while others are predicting that IoT tech will go on to form the backbone of tomorrow’s ‘smart cities’ – where everything from your thermostat to crossroad traffic lights will be able to speak to each other in clever ways.

So what does that mean for us, and the products and services we all use? Dave explains:

“From the creation of new IoT platforms and new types of devices, to an evolution in our understanding around how we keep these devices secure, all of these developments will help take IoT from a broad, industrialised concept to something that will – increasingly – form the very foundation of our future homes.”

In other words, IoT will mean a lot more to our daily lives than it does right now. That’s because, whereas now we look at it purely in terms of how one physical object or digital service can be connected to another, Dave thinks the big picture is much, well… Bigger:

“I hope in ten years we’ll no longer be ‘talking about’ IoT, in the same way that we no longer ‘talk about’ electricity,” he says.

“No one ever stops to wonder how the 240 volts, 50Hz alternating current comes out of the three holes in our wall, and we certainly no longer marvel about the things it lets us achieve at home. I hope IoT will become exactly the same,” he says in closing. “A natural, normal part of our everyday lives that we wouldn’t want to be without.”

Learn more about our IoT offering… here’s everything you need to know about the latest V by Vodafone devices.