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What’s the ‘Internet of Things’ and Why Should You Care?

The Internet of Things is a product design megatrend that is impacting how both new and old companies innovate with electronics and turn designs into the next big thing. Yet for many product companies on the outside looking in at the potential of the IoT market, one lingering question remains:

What exactly is the “Internet of Things”?

If you’re still confused about what the “Internet of Things” actually means and why you should care —you’re hardly alone. In fact, nearly half (43%) of the manufacturing executives polled recently by LNS Research said they don’t know anything about the IoT market. What’s more, only 10% say they’ve started to invest in IoT technologies. Gasp.

The concept of “Internet of Things” dates back almost a century. In 1926, Nikola Tesla said, “When wireless is perfectly applied, the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole…and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”

As a modern working definition, “Internet of Things” is the advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services over a variety of protocols, domains, and applications.

“Things”, the ‘T’ in IoT, can refer to a broad array of devices, such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, automobiles with built-in sensors or field operation devices that assist firefighters in search and rescue. The interconnection of these embedded devices will usher in omnipresent automation in nearly all fields.

As innovative product designers dream up countless ways to exploit the inherent connectivity that will be offered in intelligent products, you can bet your sweat sensing-sensor-covered knickers that an endless array of new devices will continue to explode upon the market.

From a product design perspective, the opportunity is enormous. Imagine sensors embedded in everything from buildings to vehicles to clothing. And to lift a line from Wikipedia’s Internet of Things Article, “(their) purpose is to detect events or changes in its environment, and then provide a corresponding output.”

An office in a high-rise building might alert someone that lights have been left on; a bike (or a dog) might alert you that it’s been stolen (as well as its location) if, as and when it roams outside of a secure perimeter, sneakers could let you know when they’re about to be worn out, and a real life couch could holler, belch or burp depending upon your downloadable alert tone when it has swallowed your keys.

Imagine how much easier Pee-Wee Herman’s quest to find his stolen bike would have been with an IoT solution. Alas, but then there would be no movie.

By 2019, companies will ship 1.9 billion connected home devices, bringing in about $490 billion in revenue, according to Cisco. Google already bought smart thermostat maker, Nest Labs and Samsung purchased SmartThings for $200 million.

To help old and new companies become IoT successes, Arena, the inventor of cloud product lifecycle management (PLM), a single cohesive development-to-production platform which conjoins QMS for high tech products that contain electronic, mechanical, and software components speeds them along their way to collapse their time to market.

Although but a nascent industry, Arena is pleased to have already become the trusted product development platform for over 250 of the world’s top IoT companies such as Fitbit. That’s more customers then many of our competitors amass in all industries in an entire year. Aren’t you just a little curious why this blistering hot market has given us this instant traction? We help innovative companies unlock their imagination, speed innovation, and tame even the most unconventional design ideas into becoming the IoT’s next big thing.

Click here to learn more about how Arena has helped IoT companies succeed.