The Internet of Things (IoT) is already connecting millions of formerly unconnected "things" to the Internet -- allowing us to track and analyze data like never before. But according to Acquity Group, 87% of people reading this article don't know what the term "Internet of Things" represents. If that's you, start here.
To help add context to what the IoT can offer, let's look at some stats to get a fuller picture.
1. In 2008, there were already more "things" connected to the Internet than people. By 2020, the amount of Internet-connected things will reach 50 billion, with $19 trillion in profits and cost savings coming from IoT over the next decade, according to Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO).
2. Knowledge of the Internet of Things is growing slowly. Right now, about half of Americans don't know that smart thermostats and smart refrigerators are already on the market.
3. With the latest Internet address standard (IPv6), there are enough Internet addresses for every atom on the Earth, according to Cisco. Meaning that companies can build a lot of small devices that connect to the Internet without running out of IP addresses.
4. Connected homes will be a huge part of the Internet of Things. By 2019, companies will ship 1.9 billion connected home devices, bringing in about $490 billion in revenue. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Samsung are already ahead of the pack. Google bought smart thermostat maker, Nest Labs, last year for $3.2 billion, and Samsung purchased connected home company SmartThings for $200 million.
5. U.S. consumers are warming to wearable tech. Right now, just 7% of consumers own a wearable tech device, but by the end of next year, that number will have jumped to 28%.
6. Five years from now, more than 20% of U.S. consumers will own smart refrigerators and smart watches. I've had my skepticisms about smart watch adoption, so I'll be watching (no pun intended!) closely to see if this one proves true.
7. Internet-connected clothing is coming. By 2020, 14% of consumers expect to purchase some form of it.
8. People are already concerned about IoT security. That's why 69% of U.S. consumers think they should own the personal data on all Internet-connected devices they own.
9. The Internet of Things isn't just about devices. A Dutch company uses Internet-connected sensors on cattle to tell farmers when the animals are sick or pregnant. Each cow sends about 200 MB of data per year.
10. 60% of Americans are willing to share data from their car with the vehicle's manufacturer -- if it includes one free maintenance session. But carmakers aren't the only ones interested in your car's data; advertisers are already begging for it.
11. Gartner predicts that one in five vehicles on the road will have some form of wireless connection by 2020. That's not so far fetched, considering Mercedes-Benz already has a partnership with Nest that allows the car to tell the thermostats to adjust the temperature when a driver arrives or leaves home. And it's really good news for Sierra Wireless, which already has Ford, BMW, Tesla, Volvo, and Toyota as customers.
12. Autonomous vehicles are a big part of the Internet of Things. Last month, an Audi A7 drove more than 550 miles (from San Francisco to Las Vegas) almost entirely on its own. The car uses some of NVIDIA's processors as part of the brains behind the system.
13. Small IoT efficiencies could bring big savings. General Electric believes that using Industrial Internet (the company's term for the Internet of Things) to make oil and gas exploration and development just 1% more efficient would result in a savings of $90 billion.
14. In 2008, a company called Proteus Digital Health won a U.S. patent for a pill you can swallow with a tiny sensor inside of it. The sensor transmits data about when a patient takes his or her medication, and pairs with a wearable device to inform family members if it's not taken at the right time.
15. The U.S. doesn't dominant Internet of Things. According to a report released by GSMA over the summer, 27% of all global machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are in China, while all of Europe has 29%, and the U.S. has 19%. In the decade leading up to 2020, China's government has committed to spend $603 billion for M2M connections.
16. Consumers aren't the only ones concerned about all of the data the Internet of Things will produce. In a speech last month, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman, Edith Ramirez laid out three concerns the U.S. government has with the IoT: ubiquitous data collection, unintended data use, and (of course) security.
17. Malwarebytes Labs predicts that this year, we'll see the first major attack on Internet of Things devices. "Both mainstream media and the general public will hear about the first major hacker attack against an Internet connected device (that was previously not connected)," the company said in a blog post. How comforting.
Of course, it's possible some of these forecasts may not come true, and if you're an IoT skeptic, then you may want to read some of the bear cases for the Internet of Things. But even if half of these come true, then it's clear the Internet of Thing is about to change our lives.
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Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Cisco Systems, Ford, Gartner, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), Nvidia, Sierra Wireless, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Ford, General Electric Company, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), Sierra Wireless, and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.