Consumers hope that new technologies such as the Internet of Things will give them better career opportunities, but almost half of them don’t know what new technologies are all about. The fear of data loss and hacker attacks often predominates, especially when our data forms the basis for IoT and new technologies such as connected cars and smart cities.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming more and more relevant for businesses – the market is developing rapidly. However, this is also leading to an enormous increase in the amount of data produced by companies. Traditional physical data centers are reaching their limits – both the cloud and data processing at the edge of the network or edge are becoming increasingly important.

Trend Topic

According to a recent IDG study, 78 percent of companies consider the Internet of Things to be important to very important. But to what extent do companies use IoT in practice? The number of companies that have implemented IoT projects has doubled in the past year. Lyreco, for example, which supplies customers with coffee machines and capsules, has implemented a corresponding IoT project. It enables the company to monitor the operation of the coffee machines and the consumption of the capsules in real time. This allows the company to know when the customer should be supplied with additional capsules and to react as quickly as possible.

Connected Cars for greater road safety

In addition to the IoT key topics Industry 4.0, Logistics and Smart Home, the focus will be on self-propelled cars. Autonomous vehicles produce vast amounts of data that “communicate” with each other via sensors. In addition to the required hardware, i.e. the “sheet metal around it”, the software forms the heart of these connected cars. Like humans, the software learns something new every time they drive.

The pioneer here is the Tesla company headed by founder Elon Musk. The goal for all future autonomous vehicles must be that they communicate with each other with the help of swarm intelligence, as well as with their surroundings via sensors, such as traffic lights or construction sites.

Sensor Technology

Sensors on the vehicle already record and analyze the weather and lighting conditions, wetness, snow or other environmental factors and driver intervention. So they are constantly learning new things. If a traffic light is red, the car knows that it has to slow down and can react at an early stage. Sensor technology is essential, but it is only through interaction with the environment that all the advantages are exploited.

This results in an enormous advantage, especially for emergency vehicles used by the police, fire brigade or rescue services: in order to reach their destination as quickly and safely as possible, the vehicle can switch the traffic lights to green automatically and in good time based on the distance travelled. The more data these vehicles collect and exchange, the more intelligent the overall system becomes. If only autonomous vehicles were still on the road, the accident rate could be reduced to a minimum.

To ensure this, however, people must be positive and open to technology. Decisive factors here are trust, transparency and traceability of the processes that affect the interaction of self-propelled cars with the environment. People must have confidence in technology. On the other hand, the technology must be comprehensible, i.e. everyone must be able to see who has theoretically “manipulated” the traffic in their favour.

This should make it particularly difficult for hackers to attack the system. Blockchain technology is ideally suited for this, as it is a decentralized database that can be expanded chronologically and linearly to protect large amounts of data in the IoT. This ensures transparency and increases user confidence in IoT.

Self-propelled cars

Another decisive factor for self-propelled cars is the context and environment in which the car is located. Vehicles must be able to see where they are and adapt flexibly to local regulations. For example, different regions of Europe still have different traffic rules that the vehicle needs to know.

Let’s take the roundabout as an example: In Austria, the rule is right before left. In France, on the other hand, vehicles that want to enter the roundabout have right of way. In Germany, Switzerland, Poland and Portugal, roundabout traffic has right of way. It is therefore of no use to train an autonomous vehicle only in your own country. It has to exchange its information with all other vehicles – and across all manufacturers.

Fast network for fast data

The new 5G mobile communications standard also plays a major role in the Internet of Things. 5G offers enormous data transfer rates and will thus form the basis for data processing between IoT devices in the future. Technology pioneer Samsung, for example, plans to invest 22 million dollars in new technologies such as 5G, AI and IoT. Vodafone is also committed to the new mobile communications standard and is working to make Düsseldorf and Frankfurt am Main the first gigabit cities in Germany.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

According to Gartner, special focus is placed on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). We are currently in the peak phase of digital transformation. Friction losses are to be reduced – companies become superfluid companies. At the center of IIoT is the optimization of business processes in the various business areas in order to achieve competitive advantages and increase efficiency.

However, companies often face difficulties in implementing IoT projects – possible obstacles include security concerns, complexity and heterogeneity within the IT and IoT infrastructure, and the choice of vendor. Here, it is not only worth taking a look at the ostensibly attractive topics such as speed, good integration and simple user interface, but also at simplified, central management of the IoT/Edge devices. A recent example at NASA shows just how important this is.

Here, a hacker was able to suck more than 500 megabytes of explosive data from NASA’s network via the RaspberryPi single-board computer. The unneeded or unmanaged use of IoT devices can result in a massive loss of data and control.

Ignorance about new technologies

A recent study by VMware among 2000 German consumers shows how relevant new technologies such as the Internet of Things are for consumers and companies today. 38 percent of the respondents hope that new technologies will improve their career opportunities. Nevertheless, many consumers – namely 42 percent – do not know exactly what lies behind new technologies such as IoT or Blockchain.

In addition, consumers are concerned about security: 66 percent of respondents do not know exactly who can access personal data. Particularly in the context of the Internet of Things and due to the variety of devices, 59 percent fear that their end devices will be monitored and activities recorded.