Q&A with the father of IoT Kevin Ashton
Kevin Ashton, the Innovator who coined the term the Internet of Things (IoT), shares with us his vision for the future of IoT in 2020, along with the top three IoT applications that excite him the most.
If you could coin the term the Internet of Things again, would you still call it that?
What three IoT applications excite you the most personally?
I’m excited about the Internet of Things in general; some of the most interesting applications at the moment include self-driving cars (and other vehicles, like buses, trucks, and vehicles for industrial use), tools for managing our consumption of resources like electricity and water, and systems that manage product life-cycles, all the way from manufacturing and distribution to field-service and disposal.
If you had total power to change one thing that would accelerate the realisation of the grandest vision for IoT, what would it be and why?
Most innovation is rate-limited by vested interests, ego, and bias. Few organisations are even remotely meritocratic: they pretend to be, but promotion and power is really distributed based on prejudice and privilege. That includes governments, educational institutions, and banks, as well as corporations. This is why, almost everywhere you look, you see a fairly homogenous group of middle-aged white men in charge of everything, despite the fact we have a diverse society.
We need to abandon privilege and embrace equality to speed up innovation in general, not just in the Internet of Things. Meritocracy, where the best people and the best ideas win, no matter what their race, gender, sexuality, age, or background, is the fastest path to innovation.
There is so much hype around the future of IoT and its estimated value, what do you envision IoT to realistically look like in 2020?
There’ll be lots of changes, but in such a short time, many of them will be linear steps from where we are today. Some examples: we’ll see some fairly rapid advances in sensor controlled autonomous systems, particularly in things like self-driving cars, self-flying drones, and so on; camera and video systems with very sophisticated image recognition, possibly to the point where they can take pictures themselves; a lot more services and apps like Uber that deliver greater efficiency and value to take full advantage of Internet connected sensors in smartphones; a lot more contactless and biometric systems for payment, transit, border control, and so on; and possibly a growing trend towards virtual reality headsets in video games, other entertainment, and possibly education and training.