When the World Is Wired: The Magic of the Internet of Everything

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Unexpected convergent consequences: This is what happens when eight different exponential technologies all explode onto the scene at once.

An expert might be reasonably good at predicting the growth of a single exponential technology (e.g., the Internet of Things), but try to predict the future when the following eight technologies are all doubling, morphing and recombining. You have a very exciting (read: unpredictable) future.

1. Computation

2. Internet of Things (Sensors & Networks)

3. Robotics/Drones

4. Artificial Intelligence

5. 3D Printing

6. Materials Science

7. Virtual/Augmented Reality

8. Synthetic Biology

This year at my Abundance 360 Summit I decided to explore this concept in sessions I called Convergence Catalyzers.

For each technology, I brought in an industry expert to identify their top five recent breakthroughs (2012-2015) and their top five anticipated breakthroughs (2016-2018). Then, we explored the patterns that emerged.

This post (the first of seven) is a look at networks and sensors (i.e., the Internet of Everything). Future posts will look at the remaining tech areas.

Networks and Sensors – Context

At A360 my first guest was Raj Talluri, the Senior VP of Product Management at Qualcomm, who oversees their Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile computing businesses. Here's some context before we dive in.

The Earth is being covered by an ever-expanding mesh of networks and sensors that form the Internet of Things (or the Internet of Everything). Think of the IoT as the network of all digitally accessible objects, estimated at 15 billion in number today, and expected to grow to more than 50 billion by 2020.

But what makes this even more powerful, is that each of these connected devices, are themselves made up of a dozen sensors measuring everything from vibration, position and light, to blood chemistries and heart rate.

Imagine a world rapidly approaching a trillion sensor economy where the IoT enables a data-driven future in which you can know anything you want, anytime you want, anywhere you want. A world of instant, high-bandwidth, communications and near perfect information.

The implications of this are staggering, and I asked Raj to share his top five breakthroughs from the past three years to illustrate some of them.

Recent Top 5 Breakthroughs (2013 – 2015)

Here are the breakthroughs Raj identified in networks and sensor technology from 2012-2015.

1. Emergence of Continuous Low-Power Always-On Sensors

One of the major advances from the past three years has been the proliferation of "always on" sensors.

As Raj explains, "You'll be amazed how many of your phone sensors are always on. If you look at your phone, there were times when you had to press the button to say hello Google or hi Siri. Now, you don't. You just talk to it and it figures it out."

"This has been made possible because you're now able to make very low power sensors that listen to you all the time, keyword detect and do the data processing."

2. Smartphones Drive Sensor Volume at Low Cost

The number of sensors in your smartphone today has exploded. Raj continues, "We are now seeing 10, 20 and even 30 sensors embedded in our smartphones. Things like proximity sensors when you pick your phone up, gyros, cameras, depth sensors and so on. This has really driven down cost and driven the discovery of new sensors, because there are a billion smartphones [sold] every year. It's a huge opportunity."

A billion phones means 20+ billion sensors — and we are headed towards a trillion sensor economy.

3. "Systems" Fuse Continuous Sensor Data and Cloud Processing

Seamless integration of processing is happening in the cloud and on your device. Raj explains, "When you say, 'Okay, Google,' a part of what happens next is on the phone and a part is on the cloud. You don't really know where the processing is being done, on your device or on the cloud, the handoff is seamless."

4. 4K Video Format Goes Mainstream

4K screen resolution is close to the point that the brain is unable to notice pixels. As such, somewhere between 4K and 8K, virtual reality become visually equal to visual reality.

Raj explains how this technology is exploding: "If you buy a 4K TV and watch 4K content, it's very hard to go back to 1080p. It almost feels like you were watching a VHS tape when DVDs came out. Today, if you look at what we've done at Qualcomm in the high-end processors space, we shipped over 200 to 250 million processors that actually record in 4K."

5. Opening of Sensor APIs to 3rd Party Apps Development Community

The reality is that the majority of phone apps now come from third party developers. This explosion in apps (perhaps 50 to 100 per phone) is only possible because of (i) the opening of the APIs for the sensors in the devices and (ii) the community of developers that has emerged as a result.

So what's in store for the near future?

Anticipated Top 5 Breakthroughs (2016 – 2018)

Here are Raj's predictions for the most exciting, disruptive developments coming in networks and sensors in the next three years.

As entrepreneurs and investors, these are the areas you should be focusing on, as the business opportunities are tremendous.

1. Wireless Network Densification (4G/5G): Cost / Megabit Plummets

The cost per megabit of connection is going to plummet – essentially nearing "free" in the very near future.

Raj expands, "Already in places like Indonesia, we find that people are actually getting data plans at a price of $5 a month. In most of the world, the cost per megabit is extremely low as the cost of launching networks is plummeting."

2. Emergent Peer-To-Peer Tech Drives Automotive Communication and Safety

Soon all of your devices at home and work (screens, thermostats, DVRs, computers, even cars) will automatically connect seamlessly. You won't have to make conscious decisions about how to connect your washing machine. When it finishes washing the clothes, you will get a notification on your phone."

3. Global Internet Connectivity via Satellite Plummets in Cost

Qualcomm, in partnership with Richard Branson, are working to deploying a 648 satellite constellation called OneWeb. Raj explains, "Global Internet connectivity through satellites is finally going to happen… Just think about three billion new people coming online at a megabit per second. It is going to be completely different kind of experience."

4. Exponential Growth in Connections to Internet from Various Devices — Personal/Home/Cities

Raj says, "I often ask people: how many IP addresses do you think you have at your house?" Most people have no clue. They say, "Maybe two or three..."

For Raj (and most of us) it's more like 50… your TVs, your set top boxes, phone, iPads, Nest, cameras, light bulbs…

"In the next few years, the number of things that will be connected to the Internet at any given point of time in your life is going to be so huge that the way they work is going to be very different. You won't need to reach for your phone to do something. Coupled with sensor networks, you'll just be able to speak and ask for what you want."

5. Major Improvements of Head-Mounted User Interfaces With Rich Bandwidth and Onboard Sensors

Over the next three years, we'll see rapid uptake of VR and AR headsets, each with 4K displays and cameras, and packed with a suite of sensors connected by high bandwidth communications to the cloud. The result is that each of us is wearing an incredible user interface with high-speed communications that will make our virtual experiences so good that you won't need to travel to experience something."

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Peter Diamandis

Dr. Peter Diamandis was recently named by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

He is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions.

He is also the co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that counsels the world’s leaders on exponentially growing technologies.

Diamandis is also the co-founder and vice-chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan.

In the field of commercial space, Diamandis is co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecraft to enable the detection and prospecting of asteroids for fuels and precious materials.He is the also co-founder of Space Adventures and Zero Gravity Corporation.

Diamandis is a New York Times bestselling author of two books: Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think and BOLD – How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.

He earned degrees in Molecular Genetics and Aerospace Engineering from MIT, and holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

His motto is, “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”

Latest posts by Peter Diamandis (see all)

Discussion — 7 Responses

  • DSM February 9, 2016 on 5:40 pm

    What about energy?

    As I see it there are only four variables:

    Control of Mind,
    Control of Knowledge,
    Control of Energy and,
    Control of Matter.

    Do all of the specifics you have mentioned fall into those areas?

    • neotheone DSM February 10, 2016 on 8:32 pm

      Hi DSM<

      I am from the future where world is managed by a central computer called Singualrity Hub which has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of monthly treatments (delivered via transdermal spray or jet injector) so that they will remain satisfied and cooperative "Family members"….

      Singularity Hub is founded by a group of wealthy and visionary tech entrepreneurs and investors who grew up reading too many scientific fiction books and thought the future would look like the Jettisons and wish to impose a technological future where they can gain control and dominion over society and life through technology(as they are too weak to do it themselves like everyone else) and also out of arrogance that technology, computers, AI are superior to human beings(as they are were the nerds and geeks and outcasts growing up and this is their way of getting revenge) and can create a 'utopia".

      SO to answer your question yes all of those things will be controlled! I warn everyone, beware of the secret burning desire for revenge from the nerds.

      • DSM neotheone February 10, 2016 on 9:44 pm

        How about you control yourself? That would be the first item on the list.

        There is no such thing as “the future” singular, therefore I am pretty sure you are actually a NI, a Natural Idiot.

  • Quantium February 10, 2016 on 2:50 am

    This is amusing and relevant to the discussion
    http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2016/01/btpt-wordpress-blog.cfm

    Pocket computers, marketed these days as “telephones” to draw in the computer phobic, have the problem that they can make noises when their owner doesn’t want them to and also many of them are fragile. The problem that has yet to be solved with voice telephony is that the people around hear one side of the conversation. Once someone has worked out how to make a non invasive method of speaking silently into these computers, (ie interface between the brain and the computer via surface electrodes) this will really be disruptive technology in one sense. Or maybe a way of making technology less disruptive.

    My wife loves TV cop shows, and so we watch a lot of them. It is interesting to note how mobile telephony dominates most of the action in modern plots. A lot of the dialogue goes on via this medium, and forensic examination of suspects’ telephone instruments is often essential to solving a crime. Forensic scientists seem to be able to get information from a telephone instrument after a suspect has jumped up and down on it for a couple of minutes to destroy evidence. I do wonder whether this really reflects reality. Of course it makes more sense to get call connection logs from the service provider. This also happens in these plots.