Never mind that everyone has their own idea of what the Internet of Things (IoT) is. It is here to stay whether we like it or not. The challenge will be living with the plethora of devices as well as issues such as battery life, reliability, connectivity and security. The vast majority of embedded devices are still standalone but the growing number of connected devices is growing astronomically.
Best of all, many of the services and sometimes these devices will be free! Sort of.
The cost will often be in non-monetary forms like forced advertising, giving away information sometimes on a continuing basis, or restricting other purchases to compatible devices. Hidden from view is often digital rights management (DRM), communication with various Internet sites, and logging of information that may not be available to the user.
I don't want to be too down on IoT. The benefits are significant. The advantages in the medical space alone will be major. New remote patient monitoring systems will give physicians access to diagnostic information never available before with significant cost savings. New sensors and sensor fusion can provide not just simple pieces of information like pulse rate but a range of data from skin temperature to ambient temperature and movement information. Did you really walk a mile today?
The trend leads to all sorts of products you might not have thought of or think you need until you see them. Take Sengled's Pulse Solo (see the figure). It packs a Bluetooth stereo speaker system into a light bulb package. Just screw it into a socket and stream music from you Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. It is also an LED light bulb just in case you needed a smartphone-controllable light too. Of course there is an app for that.
One the plus side is the functionality provided by these products. On the minus is the added complexity and increase in the attack surface for hackers. Embedded designers have a challenge before them to deliver flexibility while keeping the electronic environment secure. It is not going to be easy.