The Internet of Things (IoT) is lauded by most as the next great revolution in technology. A world where every object we use has a sensor, enabling it to connect to the internet so it can communicate with each other and the user is a world that seems like something out of science-fiction. With the Internet of Things fast approaching, that world could become a reality very soon. Experts estimate that the IoT market could be worth as much as $1.7 trillion by 2020, with more than 50 billion devices connecting to the IoT by that time. But where will much of that growth come from? The U.S. is always near the forefront of technological developments, and China is in the middle of a massive economic expansion, but some are saying India will be the place to look for IoT growth, even becoming the largest consumer of IoT devices in five years. While some dispute the claims, it’s clear the future is bright for the IoT in India.
Part of the push to maximize the potential of the Internet of Things in India is coming from the national government. Collaboration between the Department of Electronics and Information Technology and the Ministry of Urban Development has resulted in an emphasis in programs designed to expand the capabilities of the country in using the IoT. Some of these initiatives include the support of smart cities (or cities that use IoT devices to manage traffic, utilities, and other aspects), healthcare IoT sensors for monitoring health, and Indian Railways. In the Indian Railways example, IoT devices on the trains communicate through the cloud to indicate fuel consumption. This information can be used to increase efficiency on India’s railroads.
These projects are a good indication of how important India’s government views the IoT, but a number of obstacles still exist that may prevent the country from becoming the biggest user of IoT devices as predicted. One of the most formidable challenges is internet accessibility among the general population. Many people in India still cannot get the internet on a consistent basis, with reliability problems plaguing many areas. Even when internet performance is consistent, bandwidth becomes a serious issue, and since the IoT needs plenty of bandwidth to function properly, this may hinder widespread prevalence of the IoT. The cost of IoT devices is another major hurdle in mainstream acceptance. Some existing devices, such as wearable health bands, have failed to take off among Indian customers, mainly due to price. India also deals with plenty of challenges regarding its infrastructure. To make the IoT function well, more work first needs to be done to set up support for smart grids, traffic systems, and technologies that can handle increased data demands, like flash storage (SSD).
Despite these challenges in consumer acceptance of the IoT, the outlook is more optimistic within the commercial sphere. Businesses in India are more likely to take advantage of the benefits of the IoT, allowing for more industrial automation and efficient operations. Logistics are expected to get a real boost from IoT devices, as seen in how some companies have already used it to maximize their transportation. And some businesses are developing platforms designed to make the IoT more accessible to other organizations and, eventually, the rest of the population.
That’s not to say there still isn’t promise for more consumer IoT devices. A number of startups have arisen in India seeking to harness the potential of the IoT. One company called CarIQ manufactures a device that turns normal cars into smart cars. This IoT device records and analyzes data like mileage and speed while also taking into account driving patterns, all while communicating with other cars. The device made by LifePlot is similar to the Indian government’s healthcare initiative, in which the connected device is able to record medical data about a patient, providing remote diagnosis with little training needed. These are just a few examples of companies fully utilizing the potential of the Internet of Things.
Though challenges still remain, the future of the IoT in India is a promising one. The government is fully backing the effort to develop better infrastructure, companies are coming out with innovative products, and industries understand the benefits the Internet of Things provides. With more time and resources, IoT progress could prove to be impressive on a large scale. If that progress continues, the prediction about IoT use in India may come true after all.