Imagine a world in which billions of things-from cows and garbage cans to airplane parts and pill bottles-will be embedded with microchips, all linked by online networks that many experts predict will have the impact of the Industrial Revolution (almost everyone on the planet will be affected). Janusz Bryzek, a vice-president at Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc., “This will be potentially the biggest business opportunity in the history of people. We are changing the earth.”
This “Internet of Things” could be also be a tremendous cash cow for many tech companies, who are very eager to reap the benefits (research firm IDC predicts that nearly $9 trillion in annual sales will be generated by 2020). Three key areas that will particularly benefit are: Microchip circuit manufacturers (such as Intel), computer networking gear producers (such as routers and switches, like Cisco Systems Inc.) and software companies (because their coded instructions are essential for telling computerized gadgets what to do), like Oracle Corp.
Billions of connected gadgets worldwide could produce, for example:
Fewer plane crashes-Every part on every aircraft will be electronically monitored , enabling the plane parts to be quickly replaced at the first sign of failure.
Wines, other beverages and food could get better; food manufacturers and vineyard operators would know exactly when to harvest the food.
IDC further estimates that the number of Internet-connected things will grow to 212 billion by 2020 (with about 30 billion “smart” devices. A study by General Electric says that the Internet of Things, within the next 20 years, could potentially generate as much as $15 trillion to global GDP (Gross Domestic Product-it's the market value of all officially recognized goods and services produced in a country within a year or any other time period), roughly the size of the current U.S. economy.
Google has plans to be at the forefront of this groundbreaking endeavor through its recent acquisition of the high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs (for the advent of the “smart home”). Some of the Net devices could be melded with existing Google services; such a move would also provide Google with the means to gather more insight that could be used to sell the digital advertising that generates most of the company’s revenue (Nets co-founder Matt Rogers promised that customers’ personal information will be used only for “providing and improving Nest’s products and services. Privacy will remain intact”).
Sources: “Technology’s next big driver”-San Jose Mercury News-The (Sunday) Vindicator, January 12, 2014 and “Google laying foundation for future of homes”-Associated Press-The (Sunday) Vindicator, January 19, 2014