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Has IoT device overstayed its welcome?

Posted: 05 Dec 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Morgan Stanley? IoT? wearable? smartphone? tablet?

The increasing market for IoT devices is validated by the rising volume of emerging and innovative products for basically almost anything. In addition, we hardly read or hear about wearables without IoT attached to it. Call it a hype or not, we feel the impact of this technology on how we conduct our lives. But really, is it still within the realm of what we consider normal?

After the novelty of the wearable device wears off, will consumers settle into device fatigue or out-and-out revolt? Who wants the whole neighbourhood knowing you forgot to brush your teeth?

Hype or no hype, the Internet of Things (IoT) has proven itself an irreversible trend in 2014. The same goes for wearable devices.

As the IoT "becomes more personal and portable," wearables will become "the fastest ramping technology device," according to a Morgan Stanley Blue Paper.

Forecast for wearables market

(Image: Morgan Stanley Blue Paper)

I don't doubt that.

Morgan Stanley's wearable forecast is bullish. Its analysts expect shipments to grow at a 154 per cent CAGR from six million in 2013 to 248 million in 2017. That projection is "more than double industry estimates and is arguably still conservative," the report said.

In addition to this basic scenario, Morgan Stanley offers a one billion "bull case forecast for 2020." That projection is based on the company's optimistic view on "enterprise adoption (in retail, manufacturing), subsidies for consumers (from insurance, employers) and new use cases (augmented reality)."

As many industry experts have long predicted, the adoption of wearable/IoT devices will accelerate in such industries as insurance and healthcare, the report added.

Wearables in terms of consumer and business spending

(Image: Morgan Stanley Blue Paper)

As Morgan Stanley points out, if manufacturing companies want to monitor employee efficiency and improve processes on the factory floor, wearable devices attached to each worker might do the trick. I get that. This is the upside for a lot of corporations.

But how do consumers benefit, I wonder. What incentivises non-corporate people to go whole hog for IoT devices?

Current-generation IoT/wearable devices are often paired with smartphones and tablets. They usually have apps to decipher sensor data collected by a personal IoT end node. Alternately, the mobile device sends IoT data to the cloud for further analysis.

Either way, I find nothing objectionable with such a smartphone-IoT device pairing model. But here's the rub. Many IoT device apps today are lame and self-serving, if not totally ineffective.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand why people are so infatuated with their own personal metric.

Many wearable devices available today are designed to track our personal fitness level and health status: weight, heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns, activities, glucose levels, you name it. These narcissistic apps can turn all this navel-gazing data into neat charts. Yep, a snapshot of your life is packaged in infographics.

I'm supposed to be excited about this? My pulse rate?

Of course, knowing my general physical condition might encourage me to be virtuous and exercise more. I might think about buying a new bed after charting my lousy sleep pattern. But there are aspects of my life that I'd rather not see in a chart that pops up on my wrist or smartphone. Don't our bosses, families, friends and Uncle Sam measure us enough already?

Then, I recently saw a toothbrush that can tell me know how badly (or how well) I'm brushing my teeth. An Oral-B toothbrush embedded with a sensor module can talk to my smartphone. The app on my phone will tell me how many more minutes I should keep brushing and which teeth need to be brushed with greater vigour.

Here's the perfect example of depending on an impersonal IoT device to be a personal life coach. Could anyone please explain to me this fascination with being "coached" on every little thing we do?

After getting out of school, most of us live on our own so that we can get away from the constant scrutiny of parents. That was a big part of my leaving home and becoming independent.

Now we seem to be looking for someone, well, not someone, an app, to tell us how well or badly we're behaving? Mom, hanging on a chain around my neck? And for that, we are willing to share everything tracked by our IoT devices with corporations that collect data and conduct analytics?

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