Physical objects that contain data sensing, analysis and recording functions coupled with the ability to remotely communicate comprise the Internet of Things (IoT). These devices number 3.8 billion across all industries today, and are expected to grow to between 25-50 billion by 2020, creating a projected market around $19 trillion. With the strong growth projection, technological momentum and increasing reliance on smart technology, a logical challenge for developers becomes how to reduce critical-path bottlenecks in data transmission. For context., global internet traffic increasing at a rate of about 22% per year, while mobile data alone is increasing by 53% per year.
Though the end use of the data is transmitted wirelessly, the path between wireless access points is made by a physical network. Many new smart devices utilize the consumer’s home internet connection, creating a local hub from which to drive smart technologies such as thermostats, security systems, home theater systems and appliances. This creates a natural limitation by the infrastructure of a given home. While homes in developed cities and towns may have the latest, up-to-date fiber optic cable network (which is the only type of physical media that can provide the necessary bandwidth needed for large data transmission), rural and/or less populated and developed areas may have a lag in implementing technology capable of handling Big Data.
While geographic regions budget to improve data transmission infrastructure, a strong pull arises for an immediate-term solution to support the entire consumer base. Like increasing the number of cars tunnel or fluid flowing through a pipe, the amount of material traveling through the encasement directly reduces the speed at which it travels. To increase travel speed, either the pipe has to grow or the material has to shrink.
This has led to huge investments in fiber optic networks by companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook. But what alternatives exist for the IoT? It could have its own network, as suggested by French ISP Sigfox. Bluetooth SIG CMO Suke Jawanda disagrees, recommending that only three main networks – cellular wide area, Wi-Fi local and Bluetooth Smart personal area – are sufficient.
Taking another step back from Big Data analytic strategies, Global Edge Analytics could provide an attractive alternative to centralized, collected data analysis. Edge analytics performs analytical computation in real time at the device level. Unlike running new networks of fiber optic cables, edge analytics are cost-effective and more scalable to changing trajectories in data quantity transmission. This is especially interesting for less-developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region that do not have the existing infrastructure of North America and Europe.
The next 3-5 years will be critical in the life of data analysis and transmission. As more data is collected, demand for bandwidth will increase. It is imperative for data transmission agents to ensure technological advancement is not stunted by bottlenecks in communicating the data.